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Arena Stage announces Homecoming Opening Celebration


Participants include Alice Ripley, Kate Baldwin, Anna Deavere Smith, E. Faye Butler,

the Manzari Brothers, Brad Oscar and the cast and musicians of

Arena Stage’s Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

Opening Gala also scheduled to commemorate Arena Stage’s return to Southwest D.C.

(Washington, D.C.) After more than a decade of planning and two and a half years of construction, Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater in Southwest D.C. returns to the neighborhood with a ribbon cutting ceremony and Homecoming Grand Opening Celebration on Saturday, October 23, 2010. From 11:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. the festivities will include performances and activities in seven venues including the Fichandler Stage, Kreeger Theater and Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, as well as an outdoor stage. Various theatrical performances and children’s activities will occupy one of the rehearsal halls, the lobbies and the classroom.

“It’s good to be home in Southwest D.C.,” says Artistic Director Molly Smith. “The Homecoming Celebration is the first opportunity our community will have to fully experience the Mead Center for American Theater. As people walk through the glorious new center and experience and explore these spaces for the first time, I hope that all will feel they’ve found their artistic home with Arena Stage.”

The cafe in the Mead Center, operated by José Andrés Catering with Ridgewells, will be open all day. José Andrés Catering with Ridgewells offers creative cuisines, similar to those found in Andrés’ restaurants Jaleo, Zaytinya, Oyamel, Café Atlántico and the critically acclaimed Minibar by José Andrés. In addition Design Cuisine and Salamander Hospitality, along with José Andrés Catering with Ridgewells, will set up various outdoor food vending locations during the celebration. The Washington Nationals “NatsMobile” will also be outside, spreading the excitement of Nationals Stadium to Arena’s homecoming celebration.

The Mead Center for American Theater, designed by architect Bing Thom, has been under construction for the past two and a half years, during which Arena Stage presented season productions in temporary locations in Crystal City and at the Lincoln Theatre on U St., NW. The planning and building of this theater complex has been a catalyst for community-wide revitalization in Southwest D.C. New restaurants and commercial retailers have already moved into the Southwest neighborhood. This homecoming celebration will mark the beginning of a new era for Arena Stage, further establishing itself as a national center for the production, presentation, development and study of American theater.

Homecoming Grand Opening Celebration

October 23, 2010

11:30 AM – 6:00 PM

Schedule of Events:

Outdoor Stage

The outdoor stage will feature various performances from local artists, including tap dancers, choir singers and jazz musicians.

11:30 AM  Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

12:30 PM  The Universes, spoken word/slam poetry ensemble

1:30 PM  “Glee” Battle of the Show Choirs

2:30 PM  The Manzari Brothers, introduced by Charles Randolph-Wright

3:30 PM  Yankton Sioux Drummers

4:30 PM  Schlosberg Jazz Band

5:30 PM  Grand Finale featuring the cast of Oklahoma!, Brad Oscar, Kate Baldwin, Matt Bogart and Alice Ripley

*Fichandler Stage

The Fichandler, Arena Stage’s historic theater-in-the-round, will feature excerpts from the upcoming production of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

1:00 PM  Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

2:00 PM  Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

3:00 PM  Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

4:00 PM  Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

5:00 PM  Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!

*Kreeger Theater

The Kreeger, an intimate proscenium theater, will present performances of artists from previous Arena Stage productions.

12:15 PM  E. Faye Butler (The Women of Brewster Place)

1:15 PM  Brad Oscar (Cabaret and Damn Yankees, Tony Award-nominee for The Producers)

2:15 PM  Kate Baldwin (South Pacific, Tony Award-nominee for Finian’s Rainbow)

3:15 PM   Matt Bogart (Damn Yankees, Broadway’s Jersey Boys)

4:15 PM   Alice Ripley (Tony Award-winner for Arena’s and Broadway’s Next to Normal)

*Kogod Cradle

Arena Stage’s newest theater the Arlene and Robert Kogod Cradle, an oval-shaped intimate space built to support new and developing plays, will present conversations with prominent Arena Stage artists and staff.

12:30 PM  Resident Playwrights Karen Zacarías and Katori Hall read from their new projects

1:30 PM  Anna Deavere Smith discusses her new piece, Let Me Down Easy

2:30 PM  Resident Playwrights Lisa Kron and Amy Freed in conversation with The Washington Post’s Peter Marks

3:30 PM  Playwright Marcus Gardley and members of the company of every tongue confess discuss the new play

4:30 PM  Resident Playwright and Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies director Charles Randolph-Wright reads from his new work

Rehearsal Hall B

This room will feature performances from Arena Stage’s Community Engagement programs and prominent local performance companies.

12:15 PM  Washington Improv Theater

1:15 PM  Arena Stage’s Voices of Now

2:15 PM  Synetic Theater

3:15 PM  Liz Lehrman Dance Exchange

4:15 PM  Arena Stage’s Student Playwrights Project

The Study

The Study, nestled between the glass curtain and Fichandler exterior wall, provides a clear view of the corner of 6th and Maine St., and will feature singing performances from past Arena Stage artists.

12:45 PM  Nina Negri (3 Mo’ Divas)

1:45 PM  Bayla Whitten (Christmas Carol 1941)

2:45 PM  Diego Prieto (Cabaret)

3:45 PM  Nina Negri

4:45 PM  Bayla Whitten


The classroom, where Community Engagement programs meet throughout the year, will provide a space geared to entertain children and for families to create memorable souvenirs to commemorate Arena Stage’s homecoming and the day’s festivities.

12:15–5:15   PM  Children’s Crafts and Activities

*General admission tickets are free, but are required to enter events in theater spaces. Tickets will be available exclusively online beginning October 8, 2010 at www.arenastage.org. Limited tickets will be available for day-of release outside the Mead Center at the Arena Stage visitor’s center beginning at 10:00 AM.

Homecoming Celebration schedule and performers are subject to change.

Current promotional partners and sponsors include The Washington Post, WTOP 103.5 FM, WJLA ABC 7, Mix 107.3 FM, the Washington Metropolitan Transit Authority, the Washington Nationals and Sharp Electronics Corporation.

The Opening Gala Celebration on Monday, October 25, is distinguished by Honorary Chairs President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, as well as Honorary Co-Chairs D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty and Michelle Fenty. The Opening Gala is a black-tie event commemorating the inaugural season at the Mead Center featuring cocktails, dinner and an exclusive one-night-only performance by Tony Award-winner Brian Stokes Mitchell and emceed by award-winning ABC7/WJLA-TV lead anchor Leon Harris.

The 2010-2011 inaugural season headlines with Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, directed by Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. The season also includes every tongue confess, Second Stage’s production of Let Me Down Easy, The Arabian Nights, Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s production of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo, Ruined and a special pre-Broadway world premiere of John Grisham’s A Time to Kill. In addition, Arena Stage will present staged readings of the remaining 28 works by Edward Albee during The Edward Albee Festival, and will produce the #Newplay Festival, a national new play festival featuring the selections for the first round of the NEA New Play Development Program hosted by Arena Stage.

For more information on Arena Stage’s 2010-2011 season and the most current Homecoming Grand Opening Celebration schedule, visit www.arenastage.org.

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater is a national center dedicated to the production, presentation, development and study of American theater. Arena Stage produces huge plays of all that is passionate, exuberant, profound, deep and dangerous in the American spirit, and presents diverse and ground-breaking work from some of the best artists around the country. Arena Stage is committed to commissioning and developing new plays through the American Voices New Play Institute. Now in its sixth decade, Arena Stage serves a diverse annual audience of more than 200,000. www.arenastage.org.

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