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Classic meets new in TheatreWorks season

The 2011-2012 lineup includes Austen and indie rock, Great Depression and Hurricane Katrina

In its new season, TheatreWorks will enter many worlds: Jane Austen's England, post-Katrina New Orleans and the 1930s British art scene, for starters.

The company's 42nd season of plays and musicals, announced this week by founder Robert Kelley and managing director Phil Santora, encompasses three world premieres and a variety of stories. TheatreWorks has premiered 59 shows in its history, including the upcoming three.

All shows will be performed either at the Lucie Stern Theatre in Palo Alto or the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.

The 2011-2012 season kicks off in July with a brand-new indie-rock musical that was seen in an earlier incarnation at TheatreWorks' New Works Festival last year. "Fly By Night" follows a nervous young sandwich maker-slash-musician looking for love in the time leading up to the New York City blackout of 1965. The show was conceived by Kim Rosenstock and written by Will Connolly, Michael Mitnick and Rosenstock. Show dates are July 13 through Aug. 13.

An adaptation of Jane Austen's tale-of-two-sisters novel "Sense and Sensibility," by Roger Parsley and Andy Graham, runs Aug. 24 through Sept. 18.

Next comes the second world premiere of the season, "Clementine in the Lower 9," a play by Dan Dietz set in post-Katrina New Orleans. An onstage jazz band helps tell the story of a struggling saxophonist and his wife, which runs Oct. 5 through Oct. 30.

A more familiar show is the Tony award-winning musical "The Secret Garden," based on the Frances Hodgson Burnett novel, with music by Lucy Simon and lyrics and book by Marsha Norman. The tale of an orphaned English girl is on stage Nov. 30 through Dec. 31.

Turning to 2012, the comic drama "The Pitmen Painters," written by Lee Hall of "Billy Elliot" fame, runs Jan. 18 through Feb. 12. In the play, a bunch of 1930s miners become painters and art-world sensations.

"Now Circa Then" is on stage March 7 through April 1. The Carly Mensch comedy-romance play centers on two historical re-enactors at New York's Tenement Museum. The classic John Steinbeck Great Depression drama "Of Mice and Men" follows, running April 4 through April 29.

The season closes with the third world premiere, the latest offering from the pop-rock trio GrooveLily. The musical "Wheelhouse" follows a traveling rock band in a beat-up Winnebago, and runs June 6 through July 1.

Season subscriptions are $121-$449. For more information, go to theatreworks.org or call 650-463-1960.

==I Editor's note: Rebecca Wallace blogged about last summer's production of "Fly By Night" when it was still a musical in development. To read her posting, go to adlibs.paloaltoonline.com.

— Rebecca Wallace

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