Centerstage Announces 2013-14 Season

Mar 11, 2013

Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah and Managing Director Stephen Richard announce today CENTERSTAGE's 2013-14 Season, Theater for the Heart. Season 51 brings together a roster of remarkable theater artists and stories. Featuring classic masterpieces of comedy as well as plays by some of America's most talked-about playwrights, it's a season of music, poetry, and adventure.

"Our 51st season is, quite simply, all about the heart. Each of these plays, whether through music, poetry, or sheer comedic perfection, says something fundamental about what it means to be human; about what it means to feel," says Kwei-Armah. "From the sweeping poetry of Marcus Gardley's dance of the holy ghosts to the quiet triumph of the spirit in Paula Vogel's A Civil War Christmas, they are beautifully crafted plays, each with a daring and thoughtful take on matters of the spirit."

The season gets off to a rollicking start with a fresh new revival of the Marx Brothers' musical comedy gem, Animal Crackers. Starring 2012 City Paper Best Actor Bruce Nelson (Edgar Allan Poe) as Groucho Marx playing the ineffable Captain Spaulding, Animal Crackers proves the comedy genius of the Marx Brothers is as spot-on as ever.

Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah will direct a pair of plays by two of the country’s most exciting playwrights. Following Animal Crackers, Kwei-Armah will helm Marcus Gardley's melodic family drama, dance of the holy ghosts: a play on memory, which brings us the story of blues-man Oscar Clifton as he confronts a history of loves and regrets. In the spring, after directing the World Premiere this summer at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Kwei-Armah will stage Naomi Wallace's historical saga The Liquid Plain for Baltimore audiences. Winner of the prestigious 2012 Horton Foote Prize for Promising New American Play, The Liquid Plain follows two runaway slaves and an amnesic sailor as they live a life and plot an escape on the docks of eighteenth-century Rhode Island.

The holiday season brings Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel's stunning new musical tale of hope and forgiveness, A Civil War Christmas. Weaving together carols, hymns, and folk songs, this "beautifully stitched tapestry of American lives" (The New York Times) follows friends and foes, from the White House to the battlefields, on one frigid and surprising Christmas Eve in 1864.

Ushering in the New Year are two masterpieces of comedy from across the pond. Marie Jones' Stones in His Pockets is an acting tour de force with a cast of two actors playing more than a dozen characters in a small Irish village overrun by a big budget Hollywood film crew. And the Bard makes a return to CENTERSTAGE with Twelfth Night, Shakespeare's quintessential romantic comedy filled with revelry, disguises, and pining lovers.

The Liquid Plain arrives in April, and then, rounding out the season, is the "extravagantly talented" (Entertainment Weekly) Colman Domingo's Wild with Happy. A recent smash hit at New York's Public Theater, this shimmering new comedy follows Gil, a down-on-his-luck actor whose journey to happiness weaves through love, loss and, surprisingly, The Most Magical Place on Earth.

Full information on the season can be found at

2013-14 Season at a Glance

Animal Crackers
Book by George S. Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind
Music and Lyrics by Bert Kalmar and Harry Ruby
Adapted by Henry Wishcamper
Original Orchestrations by Doug Peck
Sep 4- Oct 13

The toe-tapping, knee-slapping Marx Brothers classic gets a zany new revival in this gem of American musical comedy. The society party of the season has landed at the Rittenhouse estate, but the disappearance of a valuable painting threatens to spoil the affair. Thankfully, Captain Spaulding is on the case! Or is he? Filled with secret identities, love affairs, and stolen art, Animal Crackers proves the comedy genius of the Marx Brothers is as spot on as ever.

dance of the holy ghosts: a play on memory
By Marcus Gardley
Directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah
Oct 9 - Nov 17

Oscar Clifton is a blues man living through his memories of the past, until his estranged grandson Marcus pays a visit. Together, they confront a history of loves, regrets, and missed opportunities. This acclaimed play by Marcus Gardley is a poetic family drama set in the key of blues - a memory-scape skipping seamlessly across the decades.

A Civil War Christmas: An American Musical Celebration
By Paula Vogel
Nov 19 - Dec 22

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel spins a musical tale of hope and forgiveness. It's a bitterly cold Christmas Eve in 1864 and all along the Potomac, from the White House to the battlefields, friends and foes alike find their lives strangely and poetically intertwined. Weaving together carols, hymns, and folk songs, this "beautifully stitched tapestry of American lives" (The New York Times) is sure to become a new holiday classic for the entire family.

Stones in His Pockets
By Marie Jones
Jan 15 - Feb 23

When a big Hollywood film crew takes over a small Irish town, the locals line up to earn their "40-quid-a-day" as extras - and maybe pursue some dreams of their own. Charlie wants to write a blockbuster screenplay, while Jake would settle for a date with the lovely leading lady. Where they and their neighbors end up ultimately surprises them all. An "uproarious, joyful evening" (New York Daily News) with two actors playing more than a dozen characters, Stones is an acting tour de force both rollicking and poignant.

Twelfth Night
By William Shakespeare
Mar 5 - Apr 6

Revelry, disguises, swashbuckling, and (of course) pining lovers abound in what some call Shakespeare's most perfect comedy. Twins Viola and Sebastian, separated in a shipwreck and presuming each other dead, wash ashore in the beautiful but mysterious land of Illyria. A tale of mistaken identity and mismatched ardor unfurls as lords and ladies, servants and masters wind a topsy-turvy path to happiness.

The Liquid Plain
By Naomi Wallace
Directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah
Apr 16 - May 25

In this lyrical and award-winning new drama, two runaway slaves and an amnesic sailor live on the docks of an 18th-century New England seaport. But as identities come to light and truths are revealed, plans for an escape to Africa are put in jeopardy and their lives are forever altered. Kwame Kwei-Armah, after directing the world premiere at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in summer 2013, will stage this sweeping historical saga for Baltimore audiences.

Wild with Happy
By Colman Domingo
May 28- Jun 29

Grief is a funny thing. Gil's boyfriend has left him, his acting career isn't exactly taking off, and his mother just passed away. He's not taking it all very well. But luckily his boisterous Aunt Flo, a sensitive funeral director, and his outrageous best friend may be exactly what he needs. Colman Domingo's new comedy, a recent smash hit at New York's Public Theater, is a wild ride through love, loss, and, just maybe, The Most Magical Place on Earth.