After a 25th-anniversary year filled with such heavy, classic dramas as "Fences" and "A Streetcar Named Desire," Everyman Theatre will shift gears next season.
"It's a little newer, a little fresher — and funnier," Everyman founding artistic director Vincent Lancisi says of the 2016-2017 lineup. "I'm always struggling to find one comedy; we've got three next season. Two have serious undertones."
The totally comic item is "Noises Off," a popular farce by Michael Frayn about a British acting troupe. Eight of the nine actors in Everyman's resident company will be in the production, directed by Lancisi, May 17 to June 18, 2017.
Two recent plays that blend humor and poignancy will receive regional premieres; both won favorable notices when showcased at the 2015 Humana Festival in Louisville, Ky.
Jen Silverman's "The Roommate" focuses on a lonely, middle-aged woman in an Iowa town and the vegan from Brooklyn who answers her ad for someone to share her place. The Everyman production, running Oct. 26 to Nov. 27, will star resident actors Deborah Hazlett and Beth Hylton.
"Dot," by playwright and actor Colman Domingo (a regular on AMC's "Fear the Walking Dead"), centers around an aging mother with a failing mind. The play, which had a well-received staging off-Broadway earlier this year, contains Domingo's trademark mix of laughs and sentiment. Resident actor Dawn Ursula will star; Lancisi will direct. "Dot" runs Dec. 7 to Jan. 8, 2017.
In addition to pumping up the comedy next season, Everyman will produce its first commissioned musical, only the third musical in the company's history.
"Los Otros," which made its first appearance in Los Angeles in 2012, will be "reimagined" by the original team of Tony Award nominees. Michael John LaChiusa will redo the score; Ellen Fitzhugh will do some rewriting of the book and lyrics.
"It's about a middle-aged white woman and a middle-aged Hispanic man," Lancisi says. "Over the course of the work, you find out how their lives are intertwined. Immigration has been such a huge issues in politics. This [musical] makes you think of immigrants as real people."
After a New York workshop, the new version of "Los Otros" will be presented by Everyman from March 22 to April 23, 2017. It will be directed by Baltimore-born, New York-based Noah Himmelstein, who guided the company's staging of "An Inspector Calls" at the start of the current season.
Casting for the musical will likely not include Everyman regulars. "My resident company of actors was not curated because of their singing voices," Lancisi says with a laugh.
Everyman's 26th year will also see the company offer its first staging of a work based on the writings of Charles Dickens. Gale Childs Daly's adaptation of "Great Expectations" uses only six actors, one to play the central character of Pip, the rest to play about three dozen others. The work, which had an acclaimed run at Chicago's Strawdog Theatre a few years ago, will be presented Feb. 1 to March 5, 2017.
The 2016-2017 season will open with a vintage thriller, "Wait Until Dark," the 1966 play by Frederick Knott that was quickly turned into a film starring Audrey Hepburn as a sightless woman in Greenwich Village hounded by bad guys.
Everyman will use Jeffrey Hatcher's recent adaptation of the original stage version. The production, featuring Megan Anderson in the Hepburn-associated role and directed by Donald Hicken, runs Sept. 7 to Oct. 9.
"You always worry about the season after a big anniversary," Lancisi says. "Next season will be very different from this one. I think there's a joy of discovery in each of the plays — and around every corner in 'Wait Until Dark.'"