Signature Theatre Announces its 2016-2017 Season-3 World Premiere Musicals and 2 World Premiere Plays

 Signature Theatre Announces

2016/17 Season T146D3lLThree World Premiere Musicals:

Freaky Friday by Tom Kitt, Brian Yorkey, and Bridget Carpenter

Silver Belles by Matt Conner, Allyson Currin and Stephen Gregory Smith

Two World Premiere Plays:

Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing by James Lapine


 The DC Premiere of Jelly’s Last Jam


Inventive new stagings of Titanic and Jesus Christ Superstar

From Signature’s Theatre’s James Gardiner:

Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer and Managing Director Maggie Boland announce the full lineup for Signature Theatre’s 2016/17 season.

Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer and Managing Director Maggie Boland at Signature’s 25th Anniversary Gala. Photo by Teresa Wood.
Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer and Managing Director Maggie Boland at Signature’s 25th Anniversary Gala. Photo by Teresa Wood.

“The new season at Signature is an eclectic mix of new works as well as reinventions of some great musicals that Washington hasn’t seen,” stated Signature Theatre Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer. “We’re also featuring four DC writers in our season which makes us proud to be premiering their work in their hometown. With four world premieres along with the exciting writers and artists we have lined up, it promises to be a great 27th season.”

“In the past two years, starting with the hiring of Joe Calarco as Director of New Works, Signature has significantly increased its investment in and commitment to bringing new voices to life on stage,” says Managing Director Maggie Boland. “Midwestern Gothic got its start as part of our American Musical Voices Project, and both it and Silver Belles received workshops at Signature last season. The Gulf’s Signature life started as a SigWorks Monday Night New Play Reading piece.  Now all three works are ready to be put on their feet in front of Signature’s smart and appreciative audiences.”

The 2016/17 season kicks off with the DC premiere of Jelly’s Last Jam (August 2 – September 11, 2016); the musical about famed and notorious jazz entertainer Jelly Roll Morton by George C. Wolfe, Susan Birkenhead, Luther Henderson and featuring the music of Jelly Roll Morton.  This immersive new staging, directed by Matthew Gardiner (Signature’s West Side Story, Cabaret) and choreographed by Jared Grimes (Broadway’s After Midnight), places the audience in D.C’s legendary Jungle Inn. Heralded as “roof-raising” by The New York Times when it premiered in 1992, Signature Theatre welcomes back Nova Y. Payton (Signature’s Dreamgirls, Hairspray), Craig Wallace (Ford’s Theatre’s The Guard) and introduces jazz pianist Mark G. Meadows (Jazz at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center) in the role of Jelly Roll Morton.

In the fall, Signature will present the world premiere The Gulf (September 13 – November 6, 2016) by DC playwright Audrey Cefaly (Quotidian Theatre’s Maytag Virgin). Betty and Kendra waste away a languid summer day fishing when the motor breaks down stranding the two, and their tumultuous relationship, in the Gulf. Signature’s Director of New Works Joe Calarco (Signature’s The Flick, Cake Off) directs this provocative new comedy that will transform the ARK Theatre into the Alabama Delta. Featuring Maria Rizzo (Signature’s West Side Story) and Rachel Zampelli (Signature’s The Fix).

In October, Signature partners with Disney Theatricals to present the world premiere musical comedy Freaky Friday (October 4 – November 20) based on the celebrated novel by Mary Rodgers and hit Disney films. When an overworked mother and her teenage daughter magically swap bodies, they have just one day to put things right again before mom’s big wedding. With a score by Pulitzer Prize-winners Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey (Broadway’s Next to Normal,If/Then) and a book by Bridget Carpenter (TV’s Friday Night Lights, Parenthood), Freaky Friday is a hilarious, contemporary update of an American classic. This premiere production is directed by two-time Tony nominee Christopher Ashley (Broadway’s Xanadu, The Rocky Horror Show, Memphis) and choreographed by Olivier Award winner Sergio Trujillo (Broadway’s On Your Feet, Jersey Boys).

For the holiday season, Signature Theatre Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer (Broadway’s FolliesMillion Dollar Quartet) will direct the world premiere of Silver Belles (November 22 – December 24) by Matt Conner (Signature’s Nevermore, Crossing, Creative Cauldron’s Turn of the Screw), Allyson Currin (WSC Avant Bard’s Caesar and Dada) and Stephen Gregory Smith (Creative Cauldron’s Turn of the Screw). The Silver Belles must come to the rescue of the town’s annual Christmas Pageant after the death of their longtime director. It’s a raucous send up of small town Christmas pageantry that features some of D.C.’s favorite leading ladies, including Donna Migliaccio (Signature’s Sunday in the Park with George), Nova Y. Payton (Signature’sDreamgirls), Naomi Jacobson (Signature’s Cabaret), Sandy Bainum (Signature’s Company), and Ilona Dulaski (Signature’s Witches of Eastwick).

In December, Signature will reaffirm its mission to stage inventive new productions of classic musicals by tackling Maury Yeston’s (Nine) Tony Award®-winning musical Titanic (December 13, 2016 – January 29, 2017). Directed by Eric Schaeffer, Titanic will feature a cast, crew and orchestra of over 50 artists and an inventive new 360 degree staging in Signature Theatre’s intimate 300 seat MAX Theatre. Featuring Erin Driscoll (Signature’s Road Show), Florence Lacey (Signature’s Sunset Boulevard), Kevin McAllister (Ford’s 110 in the Shade), Tracy Lynn Olivera (Signature’s The Fix), Bobby Smith (Signature’s Road Show) and many more.

In the spring, Signature will launch two world premiere productions. In the MAX Theater, Emmy® and Tony Award® winner Debra Monk (Mozart in the Jungle, Grey’s Anatomy) stars in Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing (February 28 – March 26, 2017) written and directed by Pulitzer Prize winner James Lapine (Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods). Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing is based on the real-life story of Elva Miller, who gained notoriety as an unlikely pop phenomenon in the 1960s for her renditions of “Downtown,” “Monday, Monday,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” and more. In the ARK Theatre, Matthew Gardiner directs Midwestern Gothic (March 14 – April 30, 2017) by Josh Schmidt (Off-Broadway’s Adding Machine) and Royce Vavrek (Dog Days, 27). Commissioned as part of Signature’s American Musical Voices Project, Midwestern Gothic paints a vivid portrait of a young woman whose imagination runs wild in a desperate to escape her desolate surroundings.

To end the season, Joe Calarco will direct the Tony Award®-winning rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar (May 9 – July 2, 2017). With a score by Andrew Lloyd Webber (The Phantom of the Opera, Evita) and Tim Rice (Evita, Chess), featuring “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” and “Everything’s Alright,” Jesus Christ Superstar tells the story of Jesus’ life in his final week. This epic story will come to life in Signature’s MAX Theatre and will feature Natascia Diaz (Signature’s West Side Story) as Mary Magdalene, Bobby Smith (Signature’s The Fix) as Pontius Pilate and Sherri Edelen (Signature’s Cake Off) as King Herod.

Signature will present several cabaret performances in the 2016/17 Season. In the summer, audiences can escape the heat in the air-conditioned ARK for Sizzlin’ Summer Nights Series (July 5 – 22, 2016); A four-show Cabaret Series (Woodstock, October 11-15, 2016; Nicholas Rodriguez, January 31 – February 4, 2017; Apollo Link, May 9-13, 2017; and Songbirds: Great Women of Jazz, June 6-10, 2017).

Signature offers flexible subscription options for the 2016/17 season. Subscription packages are now on sale. Custom packages for mainstage productions can be created for 3-, 4-, 5-, 6-, 7- or the full 8-show season. Package prices begin at $190.  Sizzlin Summer Nights All-Access passes are $175; Cabaret Series subscriptions are $130 for all four cabarets.

Benefits of subscribing include first choice of seats, savings over individual ticket prices, fee-waived ticket exchanges and discounts on extra tickets. Season subscriptions are now on sale by calling Signature’s Box Office at 703 820 9771 or by visiting Subscribers may add the SHEN Cabaret Series and Sizzlin’ Summer All-Access Pass to their subscription orders.

Patrons can get a preview of the upcoming season at Signature Theatre’s annual Open House (Saturday, July 23, 2016 from noon-8:30PM). This FREE event includes free performances and workshops every 15 minutes, special ticket offers, outdoor activities and more!

Single tickets for the entire season will go on sale mid-June, 2016 signaturelogo


DC Premiere

Jelly’s Last Jam

August 2 – September 11, 2016

MAX Theatre

 Take your seat at the legendary Jungle Inn nightclub for the electrifying, Tony Award®-winning musical that tells the story of jazz through one of its most notorious entertainers: Jelly Roll Morton.

 Journey from the back alleys of New Orleans to the dance halls of Chicago to the stages of New York with “he who drinks from the vine of syncopation” in a sizzling memoir of pride, lust and a past denied.

 Directed by Matthew Gardiner (West Side Story, Cabaret), this Washington premiere stars acclaimed jazz pianist Mark G. Meadows (Jazz at Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center, Strathmore), and featuring the soul-stirring Nova Y. Payton with dazzling, high-energy choreography by Broadway’s Jared Grimes. Now that’s how you jazz!

 Book by George C. Wolfe

Music by Jelly Roll Morton

Lyrics by Susan Birkenhead

Musical Adaptation and Additional Music Composed by Luther Henderson

Directed by Matthew Gardiner 

New Work at Signature is sponsored by The Reva & David Logan Foundation

Sponsored by Shugoll Research


 World Premiere

The Gulf

September 13 – November 6, 2016

ARK Theatre

Dive into a funny and fierce world premiere comedy that transforms the ARK Theatre into a steamy south

Betty and Kendra waste away a languid summer day fishing on the Alabama Delta. Suddenly, their lazy afternoon turns to chaos when the motor breaks, stranding the two, and their tumultuous relationship, in the Gulf.

 Director of New Works Joe Calarco (The Flick) helms this provocative contemporary comedy starring Rachel Zampelli and Maria Rizzo by the exciting DC playwright Audrey Cefaly (Maytag Virgin).

 By Audrey Cefaly

Directed by Joe Calarco

 New Work at Signature is sponsored by The Reva & David Logan Foundation


World Premiere

Freaky Friday

October 4 – November 20, 2016

MAX Theatre

 A delightfully freaky musical comedy from the magical world of Disney.

 There’s nothing worse than turning into your mother. Except, perhaps, turning into your teenage daughter. When Ellie and her mother, Katherine, switch bodies they must literally walk in each other’s shoes as they stumble through the pratfalls and pitfalls of high-school drama and grown-up farce.

With a score by the Pulitzer Prize-winning composers of Next to Normal and If/Then and a book by Parenthood’s Bridget Carpenter, Freaky Friday is a deliciously entertaining world premiere musical

for anyone with a perfectly imperfect family.

 Book by Bridget Carpenter

Music by Tom Kitt

Lyrics by Brian Yorkey

Based on the novel Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers & the Walt Disney Motion Pictures

Directed by Christopher Ashley

 New Work at Signature is sponsored by The Reva & David Logan Foundation


 World Premiere

Silver Belles

November 22 – December 24, 2016

ARK Theatre

DC’s finest leading ladies—Donna Migliaccio, Nova Y. Payton, Ilona Dulaski, Naomi Jacobson and Sandy Bainum star in this hilarious world premiere musical for the holiday season.

When Oralene, the longtime director of small town Sylva Ridge’s Christmas Pageant suddenly passes away, the Silver Belles must come to the rescue! With the spirit of Oralene looking on, the sterling-hued vixens band together, discover their talents and pull out all the stops to keep the beloved pageant alive.

 It’s Golden Girls meets Designing Women with a heaping helping of well-known Christmas tunes and clever new ditties. Christmas without the Silver Belles…just wouldn’t be Christmas!

 Book by Allyson Currin

Music by Matt Conner

Lyrics by Matt Conner & Stephen Gregory Smith

Based on an idea by Sandra Johnson & Cathy Alter

Directed by Eric Schaeffer

 New Work at Signature is sponsored by The Reva & David Logan Foundation



December 13, 2016 – January 29, 2017

MAX Theatre

 Come aboard the ship of dreams in this Tony Award-winning Best Musical—a heart-stopping and riveting ride through the final moments of Titanic’s fateful journey.

 In this stunning, 360-degree production, Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer plunges you into the middle of the glamour, chaos, heroism and, ultimately, the spirit of the most infamous ship of all time. With a lush, unforgettable score and a cast, orchestra and crew of more than 50 artists, Titanic will be the theatrical event of the season!

 Story and Book by Peter Stone

Music and Lyrics by Maury Yeston

Directed by Eric Schaeffer


 World Premiere

Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing

February 28 – March 26, 2017

MAX Theatre

 Pulitzer Prize winner James Lapine’s (Sunday in the Park with George) new comedy stars Emmy

and Tony Award winner Debra Monk (Mozart in the Jungle, Grey’s Anatomy) as Mrs. Miller.

 Mrs. Miller can’t sing—but don’t tell her that. Based on the real life story of Elva Miller, this touching

and funny portrait offers Monk the role of a lifetime as the devoted, warbling songstress whose operatic, off-key singing became an unlikely pop phenomenon in the 1960s. Take a delectable romp through hits like “Downtown,” “Monday Monday,” “A Hard Day’s Night” and more. Simply irresistible, when

Mrs. Miller does her thing, it’s so bad – it’s good.

 A Play with Music

By James Lapine

Conceived by Mark Oliver Everett & James Lapine

Directed by James Lapine

 New Work at Signature is sponsored by The Reva & David Logan Foundation


World Premiere

Midwestern Gothic

March 14 – April 30, 2017

ARK Theatre

 A wildly original world premiere musical from the award-winning composer of Adding Machine that will provoke—even shock—and thoroughly entertain.

 Set in a frozen little town in the middle of continental nowhere, Midwestern Gothic paints a vivid portrait of a young woman, Stina, who is desperate to escape her everyday surroundings. Stina’s wild and twisted imagination drives her to create more and more bizarre diversions that suddenly take a perverse turn toward a surprising end.

 With a gorgeous contemporary score that weaves together rock, country and pure fantasy, this innovative musical thriller will leave you breathless.

 Book by Royce Vavrek

Music by Josh Schmidt

Lyrics by Royce Vavrek and Josh Schmidt

Directed by Matthew Gardiner

 New Work at Signature is sponsored by The Reva & David Logan Foundation

The American Musical Voices Project is made possible by Ted & Mary Jo Shen Charitable Gift Fund


Jesus Christ Superstar

May 9 – July 2, 2017

MAX Theatre

 The icon. His traitor. The most famous story ever told. Experience Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s stunning Tony Award®-winning rock opera in a sleek, modern environmental production.

 With the legendary songs “What’s the Buzz,” “I Don’t Know How to Love Him,” “Everything’s Alright” and the title song, Joe Calarco (Gypsy) directs this dazzling and fiery epic of celebrity, passion, guilt and salvation.

 Lyrics by Tim Rice

Music by Andrew Lloyd Webber

Directed by Joe Calarco


 Special Events

 Signature’s Open House

Sunday, July 23, 2016


Kick off the 26th Season with Signature’s Annual Open House. Starting at noon, come enjoy free performances every fifteen minutes, special ticket offers and a grand finale concert.



Signature Cabarets

 Sizzlin’ Summer Nights Series

July 5 – 22, 2016

ARK Theatre

Signature opens our air-conditioned doors once more for the annual Sizzlin’ Summer Nights Series. With a different concert act each night, there’s always something to keep you entertained. This season’s acts include Shayna Blass (The Mystery of Love and Sex), Will Gartshore, Erin Driscoll, Bob McDonald, and many more.


 Cabaret Series – 4 show series


October 11 – 15, 2016

Three days of peace, love and music packed into a 70-minute original musical tribute. Signature’s favorite groovy singers and musicians reinterpret hits from Janis Joplin to Jefferson Airplane, Sha Na Na, Jimi Hendrix, Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Who and more as we relive the event that changed rock

and roll forever.


Nicholas Rodriguez

January 31 – February 4, 2017

One Life to Live and Broadway star Nicholas Rodriguez fuses his love of The Great White Way with the music of jazz, blues, folk and pop in a unique and intimate evening filled with his charming personality and soulful voice.


Apollo Link

May 9 – 13, 2017

A pop-infused trio with a Broadway twist, Jake Odmark (Kinky Boots, Signature’s Really Really) Brandon Rubendall (Anything Goes, Wicked) and Adam Roberts (Pippin, Dirty Dancing National Tour) fuse intricate harmonies, acapella and lead vocals to reinvent their favorite show tunes. From Sondheim to Rodgers and Hammerstein to Stephen Schwartz, span the Great White Way Apollo-style with three dynamic performers.


Songbirds: Great Women of Jazz

June 6 – 10, 2017

“At Last” an entire cabaret flush with the soulful, smoky voices and soprano lilts of the women of jazz! With songs from Ella Fitzgerald, Eva Cassidy, Billie Holliday, Peggy Lee, Nina Simone and more, this sophisticated and spirited evening kicks off “Summertime” in swinging style.

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Recipient of the 2009 Regional Theatre Tony Award®, Signature Theatre is a non-profit professional theater company in Arlington, Virginia dedicated to producing contemporary musicals and plays, reinventing classic musicals, and developing new work.  Under the leadership of co-founder and Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer and Managing Director Maggie Boland, Signature has presented 44 world premiere productions and is renowned for combining Broadway-quality productions with intimate playing spaces.

 In addition to hosting the finest talent from the DC metropolitan area and New York, Signature has been home to such luminaries as Chita Rivera, Sheryl Crow, Barry Levinson, George Hearn, Hunter Foster, Emily Skinner, Kathleen Marshall, Ann Reinking, Marc Kudisch, Judy Kuhn, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Cameron Mackintosh, Terrence McNally, and the company’s signature composer, Stephen Sondheim.  Since its founding in 1989, Signature has won 94 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in the Washington, DC region’s professional theater and has been honored with 368 nominations.



Subscriptions/Groups: (703) 820-9771

Signature Administration (571) 527-1860

Signature Theatre • 4200 Campbell Avenue • Arlington, VA  22206


  1. Signature could sell me tickets a year in advance to “Mrs. Miller Does Her Thing.” My school friends loved watching Mrs. Miller on sixties TV, even bought a few of her records (’45s, of course.) I imagine there was a back story we knew nothing of, and James Lapine may be the one to show it.


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