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American Repertory Theater announces 2023-24 season, including an aimed-for-Broadway musical based on an American classic

The Cambridge theater’s four shows are connected by themes of ‘immigration, the American dream, and what it means to feel welcome in our country,’ said artistic director Diane Paulus

From left: Joy Huerta, P. Carl, Martyna Majok, and Inua Ellams.Huerta and Ellams: handout; Carl: by Asia Kepka; Mayok: by Josiah Bania

Cambridge’s American Repertory Theater announced its 2023-24 season Wednesday afternoon, a slate of four productions that will include the premiere of “Gatsby,” a Broadway-aimed musical version of “The Great Gatsby.”

In a telephone interview with ART’s artistic director Diane Paulus and associate artistic director Dayron J. Miles, Paulus said that what the quartet of shows have in common are “the themes of immigration, the American dream, and what it means to feel welcome in our country.”

The concept of welcoming will extend to the audience as well, and will undergird the season, according to Paulus. Even though attendance at ART performances has returned to pre-pandemic levels, Paulus said her goal in programming next season is to make audiences feel at home in the Loeb Drama Center while making each production feel like an “event.”


“Right now in the theater we can’t take it for granted, right?” said Paulus, who was named artistic director at the ART in 2008. “We’re coming out of a period where audiences had not been in the theater. We feel this impulse to program works that feel necessary, that feel bold, that take advantage of everything theater has to offer.”

No dates have been set for the “Great Gatsby” adaptation, titled simply “Gatsby.” Its heavyweight creative team includes director Rachel Chavkin (”Hadestown,” “Natasha, Pierre, & The Great Comet of 1812″) and choreographer Sonya Tayeh (”Moulin Rouge!”), with a book by Pulitzer Prize winner Martyna Majok (”Cost of Living”), music by Florence Welch (of Florence + The Machine) and Thomas Bartlett, and lyrics by Welch.

The ART season will open with “The Half-God of Rainfall” (Sept. 8-24) by the Nigerian-born playwright Inua Ellams, whose “Barber Shop Chronicles” was presented by the ART five years ago.

To be directed by Taibi Magar, “The Half-God of Rainfall” is infused with elements of Greek mythology and Yoruba spirituality. It revolves around Demi, who is half Greek god and half Nigerian mortal, and who proves to possess basketball skills that launch him from his village in South West Nigeria to the NBA playoffs and the London Olympics, arousing the ire and envy of Zeus.


Miles, 36, said the play can be seen as a reflection of the dazzling level of hoop skill on display night after night in the NBA. “Growing up, Michael Jordan was a god to me,” he said. “What these humans are able to do with a basketball, their sheer athleticism, makes them godlike.”

“The Half-God” will be followed by the premiere of “Real Women Have Curves” (Dec. 8-Jan. 14, 2024), a musical adaptation of the play by Josefina López that inspired the 2002 film.

Set in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles in the summer of 1987, “Real Women” revolves around Ana, the first-generation daughter of Mexican immigrants, who is torn between a career at her family’s garment business and her desire to attend college in New York — or, as Paulus put it, “between her parents’ vision of her life and her own vision.”

“Real Women” will be choreographed and directed by Sergio Trujillo (“Arrabal’' at the ART in 2017, “Ain’t Too Proud,” “Jersey Boys”), with music and lyrics by Joy Huerta and Benjamin Velez and a book by Lisa Loomer.

From Feb. 16-March 10, the ART will present the premiere of “Becoming a Man,” based on a memoir by P. Carl about his decision to affirm his gender after living for 50 years as a girl and a gay woman. Commissioned by the ART, “Becoming a Man” will be codirected by Carl — a former leader at Boston’s ArtsEmerson — and Paulus.


“In the moment we’re living inside America right now, with the escalation of anti-trans legislation and attacks on trans people, this story, this narrative, is more important than ever,” Paulus said.

“The play asks the question: When we change, do the people we love come with us?” she added. “It’s really an affirmation of the centrality of relationships.”

Don Aucoin can be reached at donald.aucoin@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeAucoin.