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American Theater Company announces season of three new plays…and The Wiz

Written by
Kris Vire

American Theater Company this morning announced its 31st season, which it's calling the Legacy Season in honor of artistic director PJ Paparelli's untimely death last month. The season consists of three new plays as well as a fresh take on the Broadway musical The Wiz, in the tradition of ATC's recent rethinkings of Rent, Grease and Hair.

The season opens in November with Fulfillment, a new work by provocative playwright Thomas Bradshaw, about an attorney who suspects he keeps getting passed up for partner at his firm because of racial discrimination, only to discover it's…something else. ATC says its world premiere staging is a co-production with an Off Broadway theater to be named later.

Next up in January is Bruise Easy, a new play about estranged siblings by Dan LeFranc, whose The Big Meal, which premiered at ATC in 2011, was my number one play of that year. That's followed in March by Kill Floor, about a mother who finds employment at a slaughterhouse upon her release from prison, much to the chagrin of her vegetarian teenage son. ATC's staging of Abe Koogler's new work will come hot on the heels of the play's premiere in Lincoln Center Theater's LCT3 series this fall.

Finally, opening in May, The Wiz will be a co-production with Bailiwick Chicago of the 1975 Tony-winning musical in which writers Charlie Smalls and William F. Brown updated The Wizard of Oz for an African-American cast. Bailiwick artistic director Lili-Anne Brown will direct. No directors are yet announced for the three plays.

Ahead of Fulfillment's opening, ATC will host a Legacy Celebration honoring Paparelli's work, with details to be announced later this summer. “All four shows in our Legacy Season are projects that PJ championed at American Theater Company,” said interim artistic director Bonnie Metzgar in a statement. “He had an uncanny ability to discover and nourish the country’s top playwrights and to provide intensive development opportunities for their new works. We celebrate PJ's legacy by partnering with New York organizations to tell two important American stories, by introducing a new work by one of his closest collaborators, Dan LeFranc, and by cracking open a great American musical, The Wiz, with one of Chicago's powerhouses of musical theater, Lili-Anne Brown.”

Paparelli's final show, The Project(s), closed on Sunday.

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