Even before taking over its just-purchased Broadway flagship, the Helen Hayes Theatre, the estimable off-Broadway company Second Stage has lined up major talent for its upcoming 37th season, with help from nonprofit friends up Boston way. Diane Paulus (Finding Neverland, Pippin) will stage the local premiere of Invisible Thread, a musical, and Kenny Leon (Holler If Ya Hear Me, Fences) will direct Smart People, a play by Stick Fly author Lydia R. Diamond, also a New York premiere.
“The writers behind our first two productions of next season embrace a unique and refreshing perspective on the American experience,” Second Stage Artistic Director Carole Rothman said in announcing the lineup. “And it is an honor to have Diane Paulus and Kenny Leon,two of the finest directors working in this country, joining us for the season.”
Invisible Thread will open in the fall with newcomers Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews’ musical, presented in association with American Repertory Theater, where Paulus is artistic director and where the show had its world premiere last year under the title Witness Uganda. It concerns a young man from New York City who volunteers for a good-will project in Uganda and finds himself on a mind-opening, life-changing journey.
The season will continue in early 2016 with Smart People, set on the eve of Barack Obama’s first election, as four Harvard intellectuals find themselves entangled in a complex web of social and sexual politics. Like Diamond’s terrific Stick Fly — which dealt with similar issues and was staged by Leon on Broadway during the 2011-2012 season — Smart People had its premiere at Boston’s Huntington Theatre.
Specific dates and complete production information will be announced later. Two additional shows remain to be slated.
Second Stage is currently presenting the world premiere of Neil LaBute’s The Way We Get By, directed by Leigh Silverman and starring Thomas Sadoski and Amanda Seyfried, in previews and opening on May 19. The nonprofit is planning a complete renovation of the Helen Hayes and won’t be making its Broadway company debut for a couple of seasons.