News: Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater announces 2022/23 season

The seven-part season of “Survive and Thrive” kicks off July 1, 2022.

(Washington, DC) Arena Stage Art Director Molly Smith and executive producer Edgar Dobie announced today the 73rd season, which is also Smith’s 25and as artistic director. Beginning with a highly anticipated and timely world musical premiere in the summer of 2022, the upcoming season features two new Power Plays, a classic romantic comedy, a timely new drama, a quirky cult musical, and a landmark work of American theatre.

“Reflecting our shared experience, our 2022/23 season is one of survival and prosperity,” said Black-smith. “It’s an affirmation of community ties and identities, which move us forward, not just every day, but during the most complex moments. The works you will see on our stages are a mix of classic and modern, comedy and drama, musicals and music, and everything the absolute best in their classes.

The season will kick off in July with the world premiere of the groundbreaking musical American prophet. Created by Arena favorite Charles Randolph-Wright (Arena’s Born For This: The BeBe Winans Storyoff broadway Motown the Musical) and Grammy Award-winning Marcus Hummon (“Bless the Broken Road”), American prophet is fueled by Douglass’ own speeches and writings and filled with soaring new melodies. Cornelius Smith Jr. (ABC Scandal, All my children) will play the role of the ferocious abolitionist.

“Arena Stage has been my artistic home for over 20 years,” said Randolph Wright, when he accepted the American Artist Award from Arena Stage earlier this year. “I am proud to be part of a diverse and inclusive theater since its inception. it’s a place that encouraged me to try anything and everything.”

Once American prophet is ending, the Arena subscription season continues with:

  • First, Philip Barry’s sparkling romantic comedy Holiday about the haves, the have-nots and the pursuit of a life worth living. This elegant production, known to be a beloved film starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, will be directed by Arena’s Anita Maynard-Losh on the Fichandler stage.
  • The season continues with a presentation of Sanctuary city, a new play by 2018 Pulitzer Prize-winning Martyna Majok, about two immigrants who will do whatever it takes to make their mark and make their mark in America. “What are we willing to sacrifice for someone we love? This is the quintessence of the question at the heart of this moving story,” noted Black-smith.
  • Kicking off 2023 is Ride the Cyclone, a quirky musical by Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond about six teenagers who, after dying in a bizarre amusement park accident, compete for the chance to sing their way back to life. Part comedy, part tragedy, and utterly unexpected, this wild musical reveals the resilience of the human spirit despite senseless tragedy.
  • First Arena Power Play of the season, Heights, takes us back to the Tulsa Race Massacre in 1921, when Tulsa’s Greenwood district was nearly destroyed in just 24 hours. “We have seen time and time again that decades of repercussions follow after violence is perpetrated on a community,” said Black-smith. “The elegant and moving writing of playwright Nathan Alan Davis reminds us of this viscerally.”
  • The Next Step is Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning and Tony Prize-winning drama Angels in America, Part One: Approaching the Millennium, staged in the round at the Fichandler, by the brilliant Hungarian director and filmmaker János Szász. Thirty years after its Broadway premiere, this landmark of American theater continues to speak to our nation’s views on sexuality, religion and politics.
  • The closing of the 2022/23 season is Exclusion, a surprisingly funny story about an academic who is overwhelmed with defending the authenticity of her best-selling book on the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act after it was picked up and became a hit TV show. The second Power Play of the season from writer Kenneth Lin focuses on truth, fiction and who can tell the story. With a wry insight into the world of film and Hollywood, it will immediately strike a chord with anyone who has ever worked in an office.

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater 2022/23

American prophet
By Frederick Douglass, Charles Randolph-Wright and Marcus Hummon
Music and lyrics by Marcus Hummon
Directed by Charles Randolph-Wright
At the Kreeger Theater | July 15 – August 28, 2022

Charles Randolph-Wright (Arena Born For This: The BeBe Winans Storyoff broadway Motown the Musical) returns to Arena Stage with a groundbreaking musical fueled by Frederick Douglass’ own speeches and writings. Coupled with soaring new melodies and an original script by Grammy-winning songwriter Marcus Hummon and Randolph-Wright, Douglass rises as a fierce abolitionist and distinguished orator. Filled with an electrifying new score, this world premiere celebrates the revolutionary legacy of one of history’s first freedom fighters, whose fire is needed now more than ever.

By Philippe Barry
Directed by Anita Maynard-Losh
At the Filchandler Stadium | October 7 – November 6, 2022

A promising Wall Street lawyer from a working-class family yearns to quit and enjoy life once he makes enough money, a prospect that doesn’t thrill his high-born fiancée but excites his sister less conventional. Can his dreams survive his future wife’s narrow vision of wealth? Opposing societal hierarchies and differing views on success collide in this timely commentary on how to live a life worth living. This classic romantic comedy set in the 1920s became a beloved 1938 film starring Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn.

Sanctuary city
By Martyna Majok
At the Kreeger Theater | October 21 – November 27, 2022

Martyna Majok, Pulitzer Prize winner, tells us the harrowing story of two young dreamers who fight to find their place in America, the only country they know as home. Poignant, timely and highly theatrical, Sanctuary city illuminates the triumphs and challenges these lifelong friends face, and how much they’re willing to risk for each other when they have everything to lose.

Ride the Cyclone
Book, music and lyrics by Brooke Maxwell and Jacob Richmond
Directed by Sarah Rasmussen
Co-production with McCarter Theater Center
At the Kreeger Theater | January 13 – February 19, 2023

Part comedy, part tragedy, and totally unexpected, this wildly imaginative story holds surprises at every turn and is destined to become a cult musical. The lives of six teenagers from a Canadian chamber choir are cut short by a freak accident aboard a roller coaster. A mechanical fortune teller invites everyone to tell their story of an interrupted life, providing the opportunity to take charge of their destiny. At the same time quirky and intelligent, edgy and beautiful, Ride the Cyclone ultimately reveals the resilience of the human spirit despite a senseless tragedy.

By Nathan Alan Davis
Directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian
In the cradle of Arlene and Robert Kogod | February 10 – April 2, 2023

A black man in an army uniform stands atop Standpipe Hill in Tulsa, witnessing the destruction and desecration of the Greenwood district of Tulsa – but other forces, both friendly and hostile, are conspiring to destroy it. ‘to take off. A play in conversation with Tulsa, the Oklahoma race massacre of 1921, Heights offers a complex portrait of what it means to bear witness, resist and move forward after devastation.

Angels in America, Part One: Approaching the Millennium
By Tony Kushner
Directed by Janos Szasz
At the Filchandler Stadium | March 24 – April 23, 2023

The drama of Tony Kushner, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Tony Prize Angels in America is one of the great epic American plays of this past century. We meet Louis and Prior and Harper and Joe, two couples whose relationships are on the rocks; the first because of Prior’s AIDS diagnosis and Louis’ inability to cope with the disease, and the second because of Joe’s hidden homosexuality and Harper’s incessant fears and hallucinations. The brilliant Hungarian director and filmmaker János Szász will direct Angels in America, Part One: Approaching the Millennium in the round 30 years after its Broadway premiere.

By Kenneth Lin
At the Kreeger Theater | May 5 – June 25, 2023

A reluctant historian is thrown out of her element when her acclaimed book on the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act is chosen by a larger-than-life Hollywood mogul with a track record for directing hit TV shows. The professional bleeds into the personal when she finds herself weighing historical facts against her own awakening ambitions. In a hilarious workplace comedy with teeth, tensions rise and deals are struck at an awards show in a twist you won’t see coming.

*Pieces, artists and dates are subject to change.

Presentation sponsorship for American Prophet is generously provided by Exelon. American Prophet’s primary sponsorship is generously provided by AARP, Dan and Gloria Logan and Tiffeny Sanchez and Reg Brown. Supporting sponsorship for American Prophet is generously provided by Andrew R. Ammerman, Judith N. Batty, The Drutz Family Fund for Musical Theater, GEICO, Dr. Donald Wallace Jones, Dr. Betty Jean Tolbert Jones and Tracey Tolbert Jones, ANC, R.Lucia Riddle and David Bruce Smith and the Grateful American Foundation. Contributory sponsorship is provided by Sandy and Jon Willen.

American Prophet is the beneficiary of a Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

Heights is the beneficiary of a Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

Subscription packages are now on sale and can be purchased by visiting here or by calling the Arena Stage sales office at 202-488-3300. Sales office hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.


Arena stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, under the direction of artistic director Molly Smith and executive producer Edgar Dobie, is a national center dedicated to American voices and artists. Arena Stage produces pieces of all things passionate, deep, deep and dangerous about the American spirit, and features diverse and groundbreaking works by some of the nation’s top artists. Arena Stage is committed to ordering and developing new parts and impacting the lives of over 10,000 students each year through its community engagement work. Now in its eighth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of over 300,000.

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