Announcing Round House and Signature Theatre’s New Seasons and Signature’s Newly Appointed Artistic Director

By Sara Dudley Brown, Theatre Editor

Evening at Round House Theatre, Bethesda, MD. Photo courtesy of Round House Theatre.

I am thrilled to report that theatre is alive and well in the DC Metro area and will be available in person to theatre enthusiasts as early as September 8, 2021! Round House Theatre in Bethesda recently announced their 44th Season, which includes an American premiere of a West End dramedy hit, two world premieres, and the DC premiere of a new Jocelyn Bioh play. Additionally, they are planning an exciting Gala on May 14, 2022, featuring one of Broadway’s biggest and brightest stars, the Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara!

Signature Theatre’s new Artistic Director, Matthew Gardiner. Photo courtesy of Signature Theatre.

Signature Theatre has also announced their exciting 2021-22 season, leading off with the announcement of their search committee’s selection of Matthew Gardiner for Artistic Director. Gardiner has directed and/or choreographed more than 25 productions for Signature, including the much-lauded revivals of A Chorus Line, West Side Story, La Cage aux Folles, Jelly’s Last Jam, and many, many more memorable Signature Theatre productions. Outside of Signature, Matthew Gardiner has directed and/or choreographed at most of the area’s prominent regional theatres, including Arena Stage, Ford’s Theatre, The Kennedy Center, Round House Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre Company, and Studio Theatre. He has also worked abroad, choreographing Titanic and Doctor Zhivago in Seoul, Korea.

First up, Round House Theatre:

Beautiful interior shot of Round House Theatre, Bethesda, MD. Photo courtesy of Round House Theatre.

Round House Theatre’s Artistic Director, Ryan Rilette, shared, “We are welcoming audiences back to live performance with a theatrical journey around the world, offering stories that combine the universal with the specific, which is one of the strengths of the theatrical form. And each of these stories does so in incredibly theatrical ways.”

Round House Theatre’s 2021-22 Season opens with “Quixote Nuevo” on September 8, 2021. Pictured, playwright Octavio Solis. Photo courtesy of Round House Theatre.

The season begins with the regional premiere of Quixote Nuevo (9/8/21-10/3/21) by celebrated playwright Octavio Solis. The spirited contemporary adaption of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote transports the classic character to the modern-day border between the US and Mexico.

Next up is the regional premiere of The Great Leap (11/10/21-12/5/21) by Lauren Yee. Inspired by events from her father’s life, Yee collides the historical with the personal to follow an American college basketball team that goes to post-Cultural Revolution China for a “friendship” game.

A US premiere of Nine Night (1/5/22-1/30/22) by Natasha Gordon follows. Gordon’s debut play centers on the traditional Jamaican funerary celebration of “Nine Night,” as a British-Jamaican family and community unite to mark the passing of their matriarch with an extended wake full of food, music, and revelry.

“it’s not a trip, it’s a journey” by playwright Charly Evon Simpson (pictured), opening at Round House Theatre April 5, 2022. Photo courtesy of Round House Theatre.

In it’s not a trip it’s a journey, (4/5/22-5/8/22) by Charly Evon Simpson, June needs a journey–now! So, she convinces her friends to ditch NYC and take a road trip to the Grand Canyon. AND they must come together to contend with being black, female-identifying, and American—all at the same time.

In “We declare you a terrorist” (4/7/22-5/8/22), playwright Tim J. Lord takes the real events of the infamous 2002 Moscow theatre hostage crisis and refines them into a taut, four-person thriller.

Jocelyn Bioh (pictured) wrote “Nollywood Dreams” opening at Round House Theatre June 8, 2022. Photo courtesy of Round House Theatre.

Another regional premiere will close the season, Nollywood Dreams (6/8/22-7/3/22) by Jocelyn Bioh. This production will take the audience to Nigeria and pull back the curtain on one of the most prolific film industries in the world.

Health and Safety Information: Round House Theatre is prioritizing the health and safety of their artists, audiences, students, and staff. As they prepare to return to live performances, they will continue to monitor conditions and local and CDC recommendations and will update their policies as circumstances require.

Subscription Information: Subscription packages for Round House Theatre’s 2021-22 season are now available for purchase online at or by calling the Box Office at 240-644-1100.

Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA:

A reimagined version of Jonathan Larson’s “RENT” will open Signature Theatre’s 2021-22 Season. Photo by Christopher Mueller.

The 2021-2022 Signature Theatre season kicks off in early November, 2021.  with a reimagined new production of Jonathan Larson’s musical RENT, and continues with the DC premiere of Daphne’s Dive by Quiara Alegria Hudes. Next up is a new production of She Loves Me by Joe Masteroff, Jerry Bock, and Sheldon Harnick; the world premieres of The Upstairs Department by Chelsea Marcantel and the new musical We Won’t Sleep by Lauren M. Gunderson and Ari Afsar. Signature closes the season with a new production of The Color Purple based on the novel by Alice Walker and the Warner Bros/Amblin Entertainment Motion Picture written by Marsha Norman and Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray. In addition, Signature will present the pre-Broadway engagement of KPOP, The Broadway Musical (at The Anthem) by Jason Kim, Helen Park and Max Vernon (December, 2021-January, 2022).

The world premiere of “The Upstairs Department” by playwright, Chelsea Marantel, opens April 26, 2022. Photo by Christopher Mueller.

Reopening Signature’s MAX Theatre is Jonathan Larson’s RENT (11/2/21-1/2/22) directed by Signature Theatre Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner with choreography by James Alsop and musical direction by Mark G. Meadows! The story begins at the end of the millennium. A group of bohemians in the East Village of New York City struggle with gentrification, love, loss, and legacies amidst the HIV/AIDS crisis. Through such songs as Seasons of Love, and One Song Glory, and more, they embrace hope and ultimately find the strength to survive.

Reopening The ARK Theatre, acclaimed artist Paige Hernandez takes the helm as director for the Washington Premiere of Daphne’s Dive (2/1/22-3/20/22). Run by the warm and enterprising Daphne, a north Philadelphia bar becomes home for a disparate band of society’s outsiders. Over the course of 20 years, they drink, dance, rejoice and grieve together in a captivating weave of interconnection.

“She Loves Me” opens 3/1/22 at Signature Theatre, with Matthew Gardiner directing. Photo by Christopher Mueller.

In the spring, Signature Theatre Artistic Director Matthew Gardiner will direct She Loves Me (3/1/22-4/24/22). In a charming European perfumery, two salesclerks spar endlessly, saving their sweetest words for an anonymous pen pal. Unbeknownst to them, however, their dear friend happens to be each other. Treasured songs include Vanilla Ice Cream, and A Trip to the Library, and the irrepressible title song, She Loves Me!

The world premiere production of The Upstairs Department (4/26/22-6/12/22) is a surprising new play written by Chelsea Marcantel, directed by Holly Twyford, and is this season’s SigWorks: The Heidi Thomas Writers’ Initiative play. Desperate to communicate with their late father, a young man who thinks he can communicate with the dead and his skeptic sister set out to test his paranormal talent.

Signature Theatre presents “We Won’t Sleep” opening May 31, 2022. Photo by Christopher Mueller.

At the start of the summer, Signature presents the innovative world premiere musical We Won’t Sleep (5/31/22-7/3/22), is based on the true story of a proud Montanan who became the first congresswoman in US history. Through invigorating pop music, it theatrically disrupts the then and now in an exuberant and inspiring experience that explores the dream of an equal vote for all Americans.

Closing the 2022 Season is adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple” on August 16, 2022. Photo by Christopher Mueller.

To close the season Timothy Douglas directs the musical adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Color Purple (8/16/22-10/9/22) with musical direction by Mark Meadows and starring Felicia Curry. A teenage Celie is torn from her beloved sister and forced into an abusive marriage. Over the next forty years, while Celie encounters repression, despair, and heartbreak, she also discovers hope in a group of friends who inspire her to find her voice, discover her beauty and change her life.

Health and Safety Information: Signature considers safety of paramount importance and the reopened facility will have several measures in place to ensure audience, artist and staff health, including day of ticketing exchanges, air filtration systems, and increased sanitation. More detailed information on Signature’s safety plans can be found at

Season Subscription Packages: Subscription packages are on sale now. Call Signature’s Box Office at 703-820-9771 or visit

Sara Dudley Brown

Sara Dudley Brown is the Theatre Editor of The Zebra Press. She graduated with a music degree in voice from Rollins College Conservatory of Music in Winter Park Florida. After several years of professional singing and acting (Disney World and The Kenley Theatres as well as voice-over and film here in the DMV area), trying and failing miserably at being Barbra Streisand (the post was already filled), Sara decided to take her lifelong love of music and the theatre to create a profession which would use everything she had learned theatrically and musically over the years—corporate event production and management. She began with department store events, working for the May Company putting on events in 18 stores, and went on to found her own corporate event management company. She recently retired after 30 years of mounting mega events internationally and domestically for some of the world’s top aviation manufacturers. Now Sara is once again using her years of theatrical work as well as her musical training to review Metro Area professional theatre productions for The Zebra Press. She thinks this is a much more sane way to live and never tires of the excitement of a theatre opening!

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