“Anything Goes,” the toe-tapping Cole Porter musical, will be the big holiday offering at Arena Stage in 2018-19 and the one show to be shepherded by artistic director Molly Smith. Much of the rest of the season is heavily invested in history — with world premieres of plays about John Quincy Adams and Russia after the Soviet Union’s collapse, and others featuring the stories of comedian Dick Gregory, the junk bond scandals of the ’80s and the a cappella Fisk University Jubilee Singers.
“Power, politics and pleasure” is how Smith describes the nine offerings in the forthcoming season on Arena’s three stages, located along the revitalized Southwest Waterfront. The menu will include a world-premiere musical (“Dave”), the return of the work of two Pulitzer-winning playwrights to the company (Paula Vogel and Ayad Akhtar) and a revival of a classic 1949 American drama, “The Heiress.”
Here’s a brief rundown of Arena’s season (with casting still to be announced):
“Dave” (July 13-Aug. 19 in the Kreeger Theater). A new musical version of the 1993 film comedy that starred Kevin Kline. Tina Landau directs this world premiere, with music by Tom Kitt (“Next to Normal”) and book and lyrics by Nell Benjamin, with contributions to the book by the late Thomas Meehan.
“Turn Me Loose” (Sept. 6-Oct. 14 in the Kreeger). A bio-play by Gretchen Law about Gregory, the late comedian-activist.
“Anything Goes” (Nov. 2-Dec. 23 in the Fichandler Stage). The madcap 1934 musical, with music and lyrics by Porter and a book by Guy Bolton, P.G. Wodehouse, Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse, will be directed by Smith.
“Indecent” (Nov. 23-Dec. 30 in the Kreeger). Vogel’s drama, whose run last year in New York represented the playwright’s Broadway debut, chronicles the successes and tragedies of a European Yiddish theater troupe that comes to America. Eric Rosen directs the production, which will move on to Baltimore’s Center Stage and the Kansas City Rep, Rosen’s home base.
“Kleptocracy” (Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2019 in the Kreeger). The world premiere of Kenneth Lin’s play is set after the fall of the Soviet Union when a new ruling class that includes a hyper-ambitious Vladimir Putin takes hold of the country. A director is to be named.
“The Heiress” (Feb. 8-March 10, 2019 in the Fich). Based on Henry James’s novel “Washington Square,” the play by Ruth Goetz and Augustus Goetz, a perennial crowd pleaser, has been staged on Broadway five times, the last two with Cherry Jones and Jessica Chastain in the lead. At Arena, it will be directed by Seema Sueko.
“JQA” (March 1-April 14, 2019in the Cradle). The initials refer to the country’s sixth president, John Quincy Adams, whose life will be brought to the stage by playwright-director Aaron Posner.
“Junk” (April 5-May 5, 2019 in the Fich). Director Jackie Maxwell tackles Akhtar’s step-by-step dissection of the machinations of a corporate raider in the wild Wall Street of the 1980s.
“Jubilee” (April 26-June 2, 2019 in the Kreeger). A groundbreaking African American choral group, the Fisk Jubilee Singers, is the focus of this world premiere with traditional songs. Tazewell Thompson writes and directs.