Arkansas Repertory Theatre announces 2017-2018 season


Editor’s note: The season featured in this article occurred in 2017-18, but we hear that this year’s season will be the best yet. Find it on our Events page.

The Arkansas Repertory Theatre, the state’s largest non-profit professional theatre company, has announced their 2017-2018 lineup. This will be their 42nd season and their first fully under new Producing Artistic Director John Miller-Stephany, who in a statement said the season might be “more varied than ever before,” a notion that fits with the Rep’s mission of presenting a diverse body of theatrical work that highlights the human journey.

The season opens August 25 with The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, adapted by Rebecca Gilman from the novel of the same name by Carson McCullers and directed by Miller-Stephany himself. The haunting Southern story of a handful of eccentric misfits who seek kinship with a deaf-mute in a Georgia mill town, the play was named by Time magazine among the top 10 of 2009.

Next up is The School for Lies, adapted from Moliere’s 17th-century comedy The Misanthrope by comic genius David Ives, who is perhaps best know for his play Venus in Fur and its 2014 film adaptation by Roman Polanski. Miller-Stephany describes Ives’s 2012 script—rendered in rhyming couplets—as “whip-smart, delightfully bawdy and an overall hoot.” Opening night is Friday, October 13, and the play runs through October 29.

Just in time for the Christmas season comes The Gift of the Magi, a new chamber musical based upon the beloved, bittersweet O. Henry story of spousal love and sacrifice. The opening night of December 1 marks the world premiere of the work written by Jeffrey Hatcher, Maggie-Kate Coleman and Andrew Cooke and directed by Miller-Stephany. The play runs through December 24.

The new year brings The Call, a recent work by Tanya Barfield that examines the real and emotional complexities of adoption, particularly when middle-class cultural sensibilities bump up against global divisions during the process of international adoptions. Hailed as “thoughtful and engrossing” by the New York Times after its 2013 Off Broadway debut, this play opens on Friday, January 26, 2018.

Oh boy—or as you might say in Sweden, “Mamma Mia!” This delightful musical about a young bride-to-be trying to discern her biological father from a trio of her mother’s old loves is a world-wide sellout and smash hit. All of your old favorite ABBA songs are included; maybe you’ll discover a few new ones. This is the “let go and have fun” production in a season chock full of mental and emotional heavy-hitters. Mamma Mia runs from March 14 through April 8, 2018.

The final main stage production of the season will be God of Carnage, written by Yasmina Reza, translated from the original French by Christopher Hampton and directed by Cliff Fannin Baker. Described by Miller-Stephany as “a laugh-out-loud comedy of adults behaving badly,” this (very) dark comedy begins on a playground and devolves in maturity from there. My Dinner with Andre this ain’t. The Tony Award-winning play runs from June 8 to 24, 2018.

New this season, The Rep will run concurrent productions throughout the Christmas Holiday. With the productions running on different stages and at staggered curtain times, patrons are encouraged to see both holiday productions back-to-back. The debut production in this new format will be The Santaland Diaries, a one-man, one-act show adapted by Joe Mantello from David Sedaris’s essay “Santaland Diaries,” which is about his experience as a department-store elf during the holiday season. This show will run in the Black Box Theatre from December 6 to 24, 2017.