The American Repertory Theater Announces Its Upcoming Season

‘Tis the season to announce upcoming seasons! Last week, the BSO unveiled its stellar slate of concerts and conductors, and now it’s the American Repertory Theater’s turn. Year after year, the A.R.T.’s artistic director, Diane Paulus, has a increasingly difficult task ahead of wowing subscribers with her slate of new shows — it’s not easy to keep topping the previous season. But that’s what happens when you catapult yourself to the highest echelon of our nation’s theaterati. Fortunately the 2012-2013 season looks to be another steamy stew of stagey spice, what with classics reworked, a world premiere, and Paulus’s trademark presentation of every performance being an “event.”

The season kicks off with that first-ever production of Marie Antoinette (opens Sept. 1), by Guggenheim Fellowship playwright David Adjmi, co-produced by my beloved Yale Repertory Theatre. From the A.R.T.’s description, it sounds like this take the French Revolution is less crusty history than a fantastic mélange of Sophia Coppola’s 2006 film and the Occupy movement. It follows the doomed teenage queen from Versailles to prison, but not without the requisite skyscraping wigs and voluminous gowns. Sounds like fun, but with a steely serious side to it as well.

Then there’s The Lily’s Revenge (opens Oct. 12), by Taylor Mac, which won the off-Broadway Obie Award for its vaudevillian mix of music, dance, and film. It’s a five-part, 30-character “Flowergory.” Okay, I groaned at that. Then I learned that it’s the saga of a flower that goes on a quest to become human, as part of a struggle against anti-gay social norms. Okay, maybe I groaned at that, too, but it seems this piece defies easy description. After all, it’s a pretty surreal concept, and I’m quite intrigued by how it will combine so many artistic media and disciplines and will all feature some of our local artistic talent. Check out the production’s website, and it makes much more sense and looks visually stunning.

The A.R.T. follows with two modern classics you’ve probably seen in some shape or form sometime. There’s the 1970s musical Pippin (opens Dec. 5), which you or your kids have probably performed in a high school auditorium. While I’m not sure what the new take will be exactly, it ought to be eye-opening as Paulus is directing this one herself, and the choreography will be by Gypsy Snider of the mind-boggling Montreal circus troupe Les 7 doigts de la main. (ArtsEmerson fans have enjoyed Les 7 doigts’s madness recently with last year’s PSY.) And it’s always good to see that the Pinter- and Beckett-loving A.R.T. still has a place for 20th century landmarks like Tennessee Williams’s The Glass Menagerie (opens Feb. 2, 2013). The A.R.T. is saying that this is actually the first time ever that it has staged one of Williams’s plays … weird, eh? So even this chestnut is a landmark production for the theater.

And then comes spring 2013, where we can sate our Grendel-slaying jones with Beowulf—A Thousand Years of Baggage. Staged at Oberon, it’s imported from the undeniably awesome Edinburgh Festival Fringe, which thrills me to no end. Having read that ye olde epic in college and then later for fun (yes, yes, I know), just the title alone got me smiling. A drastic retelling of the story, it features music by Dave Malloy (see the A.R.T.’s Three Pianos last year) and boasts a seven-piece band of “dueling trombones,” bass clarinet, an accordion, and even a musical saw (!). Sounds raucous and awesome, and there’s no better way to close out a season than slinging a stein of medieval mead.