MRT stages new, old and more in upcoming season – Lowell Sun

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“Something old, lots of new and plenty of other good stuff, too.”

That’s the buzz at Lowell’s Merrimack Repertory Theatre these days with a new season announcement, plus a celebratory gala and a special music event coming in June.

MRT artistic director Courtney Sale and executive director Bonnie Butkas announced its 44th season this week, an eclectic lineup that brims with optimism and exuberance.

Sale, MRT’s Nancy L. Donahue artistic director, said: “Our 44th season celebrates innovation, invention and the special virtuosity of live performance. These plays were selected for all audiences in the Merrimack region to invite us to come together under one roof and share the magic of live theater.”

Butkas added, “We’re looking forward to welcoming longtime audience members and new patrons — especially families. It’s an exciting mix of show created with the greater Merrimack Valley region in mind.”

The season opens with “The 39 Steps,” Sept. 14 through Oct. 2. Adapted by Patrick Barlow, from the novel by John Buchan and directed by Sale, it’s a mix of a juicy Hitchcock spy flick with a dash of vintage Monty Python and it is equal parts whodunit, espionage thriller and quick-change comedy.

Next up is “Macbeth,” Oct. 19 through Nov. 6. Directed by Rosa Josi, with original music by Heather Christian, it’s a brisk, unnerving version of the Shakespeare tragedy with the three witches, or weird sisters, who play out his story and share how his ambition will destroy anyone who gets in his way.

Sale has written and will direct her world premiere of a new adaptation of the beloved “A Christmas Carol,” Nov. 30 through Dec. 24. It’s perfect for family outings.

The season continues with the East Coast premiere of “Letters from Home,” Jan. 18 through Feb. 5. Written and performed by Kalean Ung, it weaves her Cambodian family’s refugee story with hers as a biracial, second-generation American.

“How High the Moon: The Music of Ella Fitzgerald,” playing April 5-23, featuring Tina Fabrique and conceived by Rob Ruggiero, is a tribute to the late, great songstress.

MRT launches its new Theater for Young Audiences initiative with a new adaptation of “Red Riding Hood,” by Allison Gregory, May 3-14. The show is recommended for ages 5 and up and adults.

“We are honored to welcome a new generation of theatergoers to MRT,” Sale said.

Season subscriptions on sale now with a 25% discount off individual tickets. Senior and student discounts are available at mrt.org or 978-654-4678.

Closing out the current MRT season is the special event performances of “Woody Sez: The Life and Music of Woody Guthrie,” June 8-26. Directed by Nick Corley, with music direction by David Lutken, it’s a joyous, toe-tapping tribute to Guthrie, portrayed by four performers playing over 20 instruments and bringing Guthrie classics like “This Land is Your Land” and “Bound for Glory” to life. Call the box office at 978-654-4678 or visit mrt.org for info.

And don’t forget the upcoming 43rd season gala on June 17. It includes dinner, entertainment and a silent auction. Visit the website or call the box office at 978-654-4678 for info.

In the wings

SEASON PASSES: Summer is right around the corner, and that means one thing to local music fans — The Lowell Summer Music Series. Get a season pass to all 16 evening concerts for $540, which is less than $34 per show or 20% off the regular ticket price. Tickets are transferable. You’ll receive one ticket for each of the 16 shows by mail. If you can’t make it to a show, share the ticket with a friend for easy admission to the event. The offer is only available until the first concert — The Mavericks on June 18. Visit lowellsummermusic.org for the full lineup and call the box office at Lowell Memorial Auditorium at 800-657-8774, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday with questions.

AUDITION NOTE: Calling all thespians, ages 8-18, to unleash your hidden Ariel or Ursula. Nashua, N.H.’s Peacock Players holds auditions May 30-31 for its summer show “Disney’s The Little Mermaid Jr.” Auditions will be held in person and virtually. Find out all about it and sign up for a slot at peacockplayers.org.

Nancye Tuttle’s email address is nancyedt@verizon.net.



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