Arts and Culture

A group of strangers in an acting class, a parody of a classic film thriller, and the last days of a renowned singer will all be part of the 2016-17 season at Actors Theatre of Louisville, the company announced today.

Along with the traditional productions of “Dracula” and “A Christmas Carol,” the season will see several plays written in the last decade or so, including Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker’s “Circle Mirror Transformation,” which takes place in a community drama class. The New York Times called it “absorbing, unblinking and sharply funny.”

The season will open with “The 39 Steps,” a frenetic comedy that spoofs the 1935 Hitchcock film. Four actors take on 150 roles and take the very serious spy story over the top. It ran on Broadway for two years, and was most recently seen in Louisville in 2014, produced by Mind’s Eye Theatre Company.

The newest play in the season is Dominique Morriseau’s “Detroit ’67,” the story of an after-hours club in a basement rec room, and the historic changes happening in the Motor City that year. The play was awarded the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History in 2014.

Good casting is always important, but especially in the case of “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill,” which is essentially a one-woman show set at one of Billie Holiday’s last gigs. Audra McDonald most recently played the role on Broadway and earned her sixth Tony Award for it; it’ll take the right performer to inhabit this iconic part and make Lady Day come alive in Louisville.

Along with all this contemporary drama, we’ll get a chance to see what Actors Theatre artistic director Les Waters does with Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” They’re calling it the “original game of thrones,” so maybe that provides a clue. Kentucky Shakespeare’s production last summer was chilling and suspenseful, but the Scottish play is always worth revisiting.

And of course, the season concludes with the 41st Humana Festival of New American Plays in the spring. The 40th Humana Festival gets started just a couple of weeks from now.

Tara Anderson is a contributing editor for WFPL News, and the host and producer of Five Things, a podcast about the physical objects that tell our stories.