Three local productions and a trio of touring shows add up to the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts’ 2019-20 season, announced Tuesday.
“Smokey Joe’s Cafe,” a musical revue showcasing the songwriting of Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, opens the season with a new production directed by Joshua Bergasse, who won an Emmy for choreographing the TV series “Smash.” Produced by the Ordway, “Smokey Joe’s” features a cast of nine belting more than three dozen Leiber/Stoller hits, including “On Broadway,” “Yakety Yak,” “Jailhouse Rock” and “Stand by Me.”
The last time the show was presented here was a 2001-02 Hey City Theater production in Minneapolis.
The season concludes with another new Ordway production, a reimagining of the Tony-nominated “Groundhog Day.” An adaptation of the 1993 Bill Murray movie comedy, “Groundhog Day” is about a continually repeating day in the life of a weather forecaster as he awaits the annual appearance of the rodent from the work’s title, aka Punxsutawney Phil. Featuring songs by unorthodox rocker Tim Minchin (“Matilda”), the original production of the musical played on Broadway in 2017.
Comedian Mike Birbiglia brings his one-man show “The New One” to the Ordway — it’s the season’s only nonmusical offering. Birbiglia, best known for playing Amy Schumer’s brother-in-law in “Trainwreck” and for his own 2016 film, “Don’t Think Twice,” has played “New One” on and off-Broadway. The title refers not only to this being his latest one-man show; it’s also a nod to the ambivalence he felt about parenthood as he and his wife prepared to welcome their family’s newest member.
The third new-to-Minnesota production, “Ever After,” means the Twin Cities will have dueling Cinderellas this Christmas, with one production on each side of the river. While the classic version is being presented by Children’s Theatre Company in Minneapolis, the St. Paul venue will tackle “Ever After,” an Ordway production based on the Drew Barrymore rom-com that was inspired by the classic tale of the young woman whose stepsisters and stepmother try to prevent her from attending a ball.
CTC audiences also saw “Once on This Island” when that theater staged the Caribbean-set musical in 1999. It’ll return to the Twin Cities in a touring version of the Tony-winning Broadway production that closed last month. The romantic fable features songs by the “Ragtime” team of Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty and draws inspiration from Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid.”
Rounding out the season is another musical adaptation, “The Color Purple.” It’s inspired by Alice Walker’s 1982 novel that follows the decadeslong journey of a traumatized woman named Celie, whose thoughts unfold in the letters she writes to God. It was last performed just a few blocks from the Ordway at Park Square Theatre in 2015.
Individual tickets will go on sale at a later date, but season subscriptions are available right away at 651-224-4222 or ordway.org.
Ordway Center for the Performing Arts 2019-20 season:
“Smokey Joe’s Cafe: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller,” Sept. 9-22
Mike Birbiglia’s “The New One,” Oct. 17-19
“Ever After,” Dec. 3-29
“Once on This Island,” Feb. 4-9, 2020
“The Color Purple, “March 31-April 5, 2020
“Groundhog Day,” July 21-Aug. 9, 2020