Arena Stage’s New Season Features Kathleen Turner, Bill Pullman, Lawrence Wright, Estelle Parsons, and More

Molly Smith will direct three shows in the 2013-14 season, which also includes three world premieres.

By: Sophie Gilbert

Arena Stage announced its 2013-14 season in typical clandestine fashion last night (a post-midnight press release with details already published in the Washington Post), and it’s fair to say it’s quite a lineup. There are big-name stars (Kathleen Turner, Bill Pullman), theater gods (Moises Kaufman, Estelle Parsons), and world premieres (New Yorker writer Lawrence Wright’s play about the Camp David Accords, resident playwright Charles Randolph-Wright’s Love in Afghanistan), as well as some meaty classics on the agenda (Turner will star in Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children).

The only thing missing? The Manzari brothers, who were scheduled to appear in Tappin’ Thru Life, a co-production with Alliance Theatre and the Cleveland Playhouse starring Maurice Hines. In January, Arena artistic director Molly Smith issued a letter to season ticket holders mentioning Wright’s Camp David, as well as a new musical featuring Hines with John and Leo Manzari, who all appeared together in Arena’s critically acclaimed 2010 show Sophisticated Ladies. There’s no mention of the Manzari brothers in Arena’s season announcement, however, and an Arena spokesperson was unable to confirm at this time whether they’d be appearing in Tappin’ Thru Life when it opens in the Kreeger Theater in November.

Still, with or without the local tap-dancing phenoms, Arena’s new season seems formidable. Here are the details:

Opening in September is The Velocity of Autumn, a pre-Broadway production by Eric Coble starring Tony winners Estelle Parsons and Stephen Spinella and directed by Smith. (The play was billed as Smith’s Broadway debut when it was announced late last year.)

Coming in October is the world premiere of Arena resident playwright Charles Randolph-Wright’s Love in Afghanistan.

Tappin’ Thru Life, directed by Tony winner Jeff Calhoun, and starring Maurice Hines, opens November 15.

Kenny Leon (last seen at Arena directing Phylicia Rashad in every tongue confess) will helm a new theatrical adaptation of the 1967 film Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, opening November 29.

Moises Kaufman and Tectonic Theater Project present The Tallest Tree—A Portrait of Paul Robeson by Daniel Beaty, opening January 10.

Kathleen Turner, who starred in Arena’s hit about journalist Molly Ivins last year, will return to take the lead in Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children, directed by Smith and opening January 31.

Smith also directs Lawrence Wright’s Camp David, opening March 23 (see more about the play in our earlier post).

Arena will stage a new production of the musical Smokey Joe’s CafĂ© opening April 25.

And choreographer Liz Lerman (Liz Lerman Dance Exchange) will debut a new theatrical work commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, starring Bill Pullman.

For more on Arena’s new season, visit the theater’s website.