Folks are going to be singing "the sun will come out — tomorrow" a lot this fall at the Children's Theatre Company, which kicks off its post-pandemic season with the indefatigably optimistic Depression-set musical, "Annie."
Directed by Peter Rothstein, who staged a smashing version of the classic in 2011, "Annie" is one of several uplifting titles in the just announced 2021-22 lineup. Another is "Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Musical," the last show in the roster. It premiered at CTC in 2016 and will be getting some updates with the continued backing of Broadway producer Kevin McCollum.
In between those high-wattage tentpoles, the company will premiere new plays it has commissioned from Cheryl West and Lloyd Suh. CTC rounds out its roster with another new show — about the first African woman to win Olympic gold — by Circus Abyssinia, the balletically athletic Ethiopian troupe.
"We see this as a season of hope — of finding strength and joy as we, as a country, come out of incredibly confusing, dark and challenging times," artistic director Peter Brosius said. "We are negotiating our way to contact with each other again, and these works capture, enhance and celebrate that sense of resilience."
Rothstein's revival of "Annie" was supposed to close the 2019-20 season before the pandemic hit. His creative team includes choreographer Kelli Foster Warder, music director Victor Zupanc and actor JoeNathan Thomas as Oliver Warbucks.
"We've had 'Annie' taped out in the rehearsal room for 15 months and we're ready to bring it to audiences," Brosius said.
After "Annie," which runs Nov. 7-Jan. 9, the company premiere's Suh's "Bina's Six Apples," about a Korean girl's search for her family, separated by war.
Suh, whose play "The Wong Kids in the Secret of the Space Chupacabra, Go!" premiered at CTC in 2013, said that he developed "Bina" from family history.
"It is inspired by my parents, in what they experienced as children during the Korean War, but it is equally inspired by my kids — not just in the remarkable differences in how they're growing up, but in the similarities, too," he said in a statement.
"Bina's Six Apples" is a coproduction with Atlanta's Alliance Theatre, where it travels after its premiere in Minneapolis. Eric Ting, artistic director of California Shakespeare Theater, directs (Jan. 9-Feb. 13, 2022).
Ethiopian runner Derartu Tulu is celebrated in "Circus Abyssinia: Tulu." The troupe's athleticism includes high-flying acrobatics, hand balancing and juggling, often to an Ethiopian beat (Jan. 18-Feb. 13, 2022).
Another new title is West's "Something Happened in Our Town," which is based on a 2018 children's book of the same name by Marianne Celano, Marietta Collins and Ann Hazzard. It is about the confusion and questions that arise between two young friends, one Black, the other white, after police kill a Black man in their community.
Timothy Douglas, who staged Suzan-Lori Parks' "In the Blood" at the Guthrie and "The 24 Hour Plays" on Broadway, directs (Feb. 27-March 27, 2022).
"Wimpy Kid," which closes CTC's post-pandemic season, is returning to the stage where it was born. Based on a series of Jeff Kinney books, it follows a kid's survival through the traumas of middle school. The composer/lyricist team consists of Minnetonka native Michael Mahler and Alan Schmuckler. New York-based director Jenn Thompson replaces Rachel Rockwell, who staged the original but died in 2018 of cancer (April 22-June 19, 2022).
Single tickets for "Annie" go on sale ($15-$73) next month, and for the rest of the season in the fall. Subscriptions, which range from $75 to $185, are on sale now: childrenstheatre.org/subscribe or 612-874-0400.
Rohan Preston • 612-673-4390