From its perch on the Mississippi River, the Guthrie Theater will travel all over the map in its just-announced 2019-20 season.
There’s a Southern flair to “Steel Magnolias” (Oct. 26-Dec. 15), the comedy set in a Louisiana hair salon that offers juicy roles for six female actors, and “The Glass Menagerie” (Sept. 14-Oct. 26), which comes from the Mississippi-born imagination (and autobiography) of one of the great dramatists, Tennessee Williams. With its tale of a protective woman and her two adult children, “Menagerie” will open the season with a new production directed by Guthrie Artistic Director Joseph Haj.
Haj returns to helm “Cabaret” (June 20-Aug. 23, 2020), set in 1930s Berlin. The show that brought us “Willkommen” and “Money, Money, Money” continues the Guthrie tradition of a classic summer musical. Haj, who directed it in 2013 at his previous artistic home, North Carolina’s PlayMakers Rep, thinks the show’s exploration of race, gender, sex and politics is especially apt for an election year.
“It seems impossible,” Haj said, “but coming out of the ashes of World War I and before the catastrophe of World War II, you have this incredibly fertile period, artistically.” Haj said he pushed hard for a chance to “reinvest” in the musical with a new group of collaborators.
Legendary theatermaker Anne Bogart will bring her gender-fluid adaptation of Euripides’ “The Bacchae” (Feb. 29-April 5, 2020) to the Twin Cities. The revenge drama played in New York last year in a production the New York Times called “broadly entertaining.”
Some Guthrie soothsayers predicted a 2019-20 production of recent Broadway hit “A Doll’s House, Part 2,” but the theater will present a different contemporary take on Henrik Ibsen’s feminist drama. It’ll be Heather Raffo’s New York-set “Noura” (Jan. 11-Feb. 16, 2020), in which the Iraqi-American title character must weigh her own dreams against society’s expectations.
Karen Zacarias’ “Native Gardens” was a summer hit in 2017 on the theater’s proscenium stage. The playwright returns there next year for “Destiny of Desire” (May 30-July 11, 2020), a live version of Mexico’s popular telenovela soap operas, complete with babies who are switched at birth and improbable musical numbers.
Various shows came in and fell out during season planning, Haj noted. (Versions of the 2019-20 season were budgeted 34 times, Haj said. Which seems like a lot until you learn that’s six fewer than the previous season.) But “Destiny of Desire,” a coproduction with Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park and Milwaukee Repertory Theater, was there from the beginning.
Another Guthrie favorite making a return visit is Lynn Nottage, with her Pulitzer Prize-winning “Sweat” (July 25-Aug. 29, 2020). The drama about economic uncertainty in the town of Reading, Pa., is a companion piece to Nottage’s “Floyd’s,” which will get its world premiere at the Guthrie this summer (the theater also produced Nottage’s “Intimate Apparel” in 2005).
A pair of shows take audiences to 19th-century England: the holiday return of “A Christmas Carol” (Nov. 12-Dec. 29), again directed by Lauren Keating, and “Emma” (April 11-May 31, 2020), which brings Jane Austen’s beloved romcom to the Guthrie, by a playwright who’s still being selected. The theater previously staged takes on Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” and “Pride and Prejudice.”
The current production of William Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” dog whistles to next year’s Shakespeare. When the “As You Like It” characters wander through a magical forest, they pass a sign pointing to Illyria, the setting for “Twelfth Night” (Feb. 8-March 22, 2020). Like “As You Like It,” a comedy that involves gender fluidity and romantic confusion, “Twelfth Night” also includes twins, suggesting a hitherto unexplored connection between Shakespeare and telenovelas.
Season subscriptions go on sale in May, with individual tickets available later via 612-225-6238 or guthrie theater.org. “A Christmas Carol” will be available as a package add-on.
Guthrie Theater 2019-20 season
“The Glass Menagerie,” Sept. 14-Oct. 26
“Steel Magnolias,” Oct. 26-Dec. 15
“A Christmas Carol,” Nov. 12-Dec. 29
“Noura,” Jan. 11-Feb. 16, 2020
“Twelfth Night,” Feb. 8-March 22, 2020
“The Bacchae,” Feb. 29-April 5, 2020
“Emma,” April 11-May 31, 2020
“Destiny of Desire,” May 30-July 11, 2020
“Cabaret,” June 20-Aug. 23, 2020
“Sweat, July 25-Aug. 29, 2020