Metro Weekly

Just announced: Signature’s new season includes Hairspray and Xanadu

Signature Theatre, in Arlington, Va. announced its 2011-2012 season today and among the surprises: Hairspray, the Broadway musical based on the 1988 John Waters film, directed by Eric Schaeffer (no word yet on who’s playing Edna, but we can’t wait to see who Eric casts), and Xanadu — yes, that Xanadu — directed by Matthew Gardiner.

The full season, adapted from the company’s press release, follows:

Book by Hunter Foster
Music & Lyrics by Matt Conner
Based on The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
Directed by Eric Schaeffer
August — October 2011
From the composer of Nevermore and Partial Eclipse, The Hollow is a chilling musical reinterpretation of the classic thriller The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. In a devout 18th century village, a mysterious stranger spreading radically new ideas challenges the traditional order. However, when rumors spread of a headless horseman murdering friends and neighbors, the townsfolk blame the outsider for this demonic curse.

Book by Joe Meno
Music & Lyrics by Adam Gwon
Based on novel The Boy Detective Fails by Joe Meno
Directed by Joe Calarco
August — October 2011
The Boy Detective Fails, based on Joe Meno’s acclaimed novel, tells the story of Billy Argo, “boy detective.” In the twilight of a childhood full of wonder, a broken-hearted Billy faces a mystery he can’t comprehend – the shocking death of his young sister and crime-solving partner, Caroline. Ten years later, a 30-year old Billy returns to his quiet New Jersey town after an extended stay at St. Vitus’ Hospital for the Mentally Ill. Although determined to solve the mystery of Caroline’s death and right old wrongs, he instead discovers a world full of unimaginable strangeness, beauty and love.

Book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan
Music by Marc Shaiman
Lyrics by Scott Wittman and Marc Shaiman
Based on the 1988 John Waters film Hairspray
Directed by Eric Schaeffer
November 2011 — January 2012
When she wins a coveted spot on “The Corny Collins Show,” Baltimore’s most popular teen dance program, the high school loser with the big heart, big personality and big hair proves everyone wrong and becomes a local TV celebrity. It seems like Tracy will have it all — the eye of heartthrob Link Larkin, the Miss Teenage Hairspray crown, even a modeling gig with Mr. Pinky’s Hefty Hideaway. But is segregated Baltimore ready to embrace her demand for racial integration? And will her larger-than-life mother ever leave the house?

World Premiere
A New Drama by Paul Downs Colaizzo
Directed by Matthew Gardiner
January — March 2012
At an elite university, when the party of the year results in the regret of a lifetime, one person will stop at nothing to salvage her suddenly evaporating future. In this quick-witted and gripping comic tragedy about “Generation Me,” it’s every man for himself.

World Premiere
Book & Lyrics by John Dempsey
Music by Dana Rowe
Directed by Eric Schaeffer
February — March 2012
A world premiere rock musical from the award-winning creators of The Fix and The Witches of Eastwick. In a desolate potato field north of Omsk, a comically fourth-rate Russian theatre troupe sets up its tents and wows the local farmers with rock-fueled adaptations of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Tonight, however, the company will toss classic literature aside to showcase the life story of their impresario and star, the seemingly immortal Brother Russia — more commonly known as Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin. Yes, that Rasputin: the hypnotic mystic who seduced and ruled the Tsar and Tsarina in the waning days of Imperial Russia.

by Yasmina Reza
Translated by Christopher Hampton
April — June 2012
Two upper-middle-class Brooklyn couples meet to discuss an incident of playground violence between their sons. Though the evening begins with polite pleasantries, it quickly descends into primal madness as tempers flare, loyalties shift and the parents devolve into children. Like last season’s Art, Reza ferociously and hilariously strips her affluent, over-achieving characters down to their savage core.

Washington Premiere
Book by Douglas Carter Beane
Music & Lyrics by Jeff Lynne
Based on the 1980 Universal Pictures film
Directed & Choreographed by Matthew Gardiner
April — May 2012
1980. Venice, California. Legwarmers are in and roller skates are way sexy. Xanadu, the zany send-up to the cult film starring Olivia Newton-John, delivers rock-star hilarity in an electrifying tale of forbidden love. Kira, one of seven quirky Greek muses, is sworn to three things: to inspire mortals, never reveal her identity and never, ever fall in love. However, when she emboldens struggling artist Sonny to create the first roller disco, Kira feels the artistic pull of her own.

You can subscribe to the season or see more here.

Randy Shulman is Metro Weekly's Publisher and Editor-in-Chief. He can be reached at