By OnMilwaukee Staff Writers   Published Feb 17, 2015 at 1:50 PM

 Artistic Director Mark Clements has announced Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s 2015-16 season highlighted by a couple of award-winning musical productions.

"The plays we have selected for next season reflect our continued commitment to producing theater that is both enlightening and entertaining with strong, substantive stories," said Clements.

"I am particularly thrilled that our season offerings for next year will feature three world premieres: 'Back Home Again: On the Road with John Denver' by Randal Myler (author of this season’s 'Low Down Dirty Blues'), and Dan Wheetman; 'American Song' by award-winning Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith; and 'Sirens of Song' by frequent Rep collaborator Kevin Ramsey. I am also delighted that we’ll be staging 'The Invisible Hand,' by Pulitzer Prize-winning Milwaukee playwright Ayad Akhtar; it will be the first time one of his works will be seen at The Rep.

Here is a list of the season's productions, with descriptions from the Rep:

"Back Home Again: On the Road with John Denver"
By Randal Myler and Dan Wheetman
Sept. 11-Nov. 8, Stackner Cabaret

Created by the writer and music director of the 2014/15 Stackner production Low Down Dirty Blues, this world premiere event is a celebration of folk musician John Denver’s life and music, and includes hits like "Take Me Home, Country Roads," "Rocky Mountain High," and "Leaving On a Jet Plane." Back Home Again offers a rare glimpse of the man behind the music and the stories behind the songs.

Music by Henry Krieger
Book & Lyrics by Tom Eyen
Orchestrations by Harold Wheeler
Directed by Artistic Director Mark Clements
Sept. 22-Nov. 1,  Quadracci Powerhouse

Following on the success of sold-out runs of Ragtime and The Color Purple, the Quadracci Powerhouse kicks off with the groundbreaking musical, Dreamgirls. Winner of six Tony Awards and loosely based on the career of The Supremes, the musical features such hits as "Steppin’ to the Bad Side," "One Night Only," and the show stopping "And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going." Dreamgirls celebrates the music of the 1960s and ’70s with dynamic performances and a moving look at the behind-the-scenes reality of the entertainment industry.

"The Lion"
Written and Performed by Benjamin Scheuer
Directed by Sean Daniels
Sept. 30-Nov. 8, Stiemke Studio

Some stories have to be sung. The Lion is a true story of love, loss, family, loyalty, and the redemptive power of music. Writer/performer Benjamin Scheuer shares his gripping coming-of-age tale in a candid, poignant, and charming new solo musical from a next-generation troubadour. Currently playing a limited return engagement in New York, where The Huffington Post called it "the best new musical of the year," The Lion kicks off its National tour at The Rep where Milwaukee audiences will be the first around the country to hear The Lion roar!

"Guys On Ice"
Books & Lyrics by Fred Alley
Music by James Kaplan
Conceived & Researched by Fred Alley and Frederick Heide
Nov. 13-Jan. 17, 2016, Stackner Cabaret

Back in the Stackner for the first time since 2001, the hit musical Guys On Ice takes you inside a Northern Wisconsin ice shanty. Lloyd and Marvin brave the cold as they dream big dreams about catching big fish, while enjoying the simple luxuries of a faithful fishing-pole and a warm snowmobile suit — and hoping against an unwelcome visit from Ernie the Moocher! The show will feature Steve Koehlerand Doug Mancheski reprising their roles, and Bo Johnson (The Doyle and Debbie Show) as Ernie the Moocher.

"The Mousetrap"
By Agatha Christie
Nov. 17-Dec. 20, Quadracci Powerhouse

Playing in London’s West End for over 60 years, The Mousetrap has been released to American audiences through a limited number of authorized productions – including Milwaukee Rep! A murder is committed at a newly opened rooming house, and the snowbound hosts and guests – with the aid of a police inspector – must determine who the killer is before he or she strikes again. Agatha Christie's masterful whodunit weaves an intricate plot filled with nerve-rattling suspense, all leading up to an unforgettable final twist!

"A Christmas Carol"
By Charles Dickens
Adapted by Joseph Handreddy and Edward Morgan
Dec. 1-24, The Pabst Theater

40th anniversary!

Rep Lab
Short Play Festival
Jan. 8-11 , 2016, Stiemke Studio

Back for its sixth season, Rep Lab features the Artistic Intern Company in a series of short plays.

"Of Mice and Men"
By John Steinbeck
Directed by Artistic Director Mark Clements
Jan. 19-Feb. 21, 2016, Quadracci Powerhouse

One of the most celebrated works in American literature, Of Mice and Men is a compelling tale of friendship and survival. George and Lenny are migrant workers who dream of settling down on a farm where the land stretches on forever and the soft rabbits need tending. This classic drama is a touching portrait of two underdogs in pursuit of the American dream. Mark Clements brings his acclaimed production to Milwaukee after a record-setting run in Philadelphia, where it won eight Barrymore Awards (including Best Production), and played to sold-out audiences.

"The Devil’s Music: The Life and Blues of Bessie Smith"
Book by Angelo Parra
Conceived & Originally Directed by Joe Brancato
Musical Arrangements by Miche Braden
Jan. 22-March 20, 2016, Stackner Cabaret

Laughter and bawdiness come together to deliver an entertaining and unforgettable evening as "The Empress of the Blues," Bessie Smith, gives an after-hours show and recounts a life as large and outrageous as her talent. Featuring the incomparable Zonya Love, last seen at The Rep as Celie in The Color Purple, The Devil’s Music features songs including, "I Ain’t Got Nobody," "St. Louis Blues," "Baby Doll," and "Tain’t Nobody’s Bizness If I Do."

"The Invisible Hand"
By Ayad Akhtar
Feb. 24-April 3, 2016, Stiemke Studio

Written by Pulitzer Prize-winning Milwaukee playwright Ayad Akhtar, The Invisible Hand investigates the relationship between terrorism and world financial markets. When an unnamed Islamic Pakistani terrorist group kidnaps Nick Bright, a highly successful player at a major investment bank, his captors demand he raise the money for his ransom by trading in the financial markets. Nick ends up teaching them how to manipulate the market, and, in doing so, changes the relationship with his captors fundamentally.

"American Song"
By Joanna Murray-Smith
Directed by Artistic Director Mark Clements
March 15-April 10, 2016, Quadracci Powerhouse

Andy Mancheski's child left for school one morning and never came back. A Milwaukee Rep commission from award-winning Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith, American Song asks what it means to be a father, a husband, and a citizen in a complex and changing world. It tells the story of an ordinary man, who turned on the television news and knew the story of his happy life was about to take a shocking and insurmountable turn. American Song, featuring the extraordinary Jim DeVita (An Iliad), is one man’s deeply moving examination of guilt and innocence, parental bonds, and life here and now.

"Sirens of Song"
Written and Directed by Kevin Ramsey
March 25-May 29, 2016, Stackner Cabaret

Created especially for The Rep’s Stackner Cabaret, Sirens of Song is a musical celebration of the songs and stories that defined the consciousness of women throughout history. Three powerhouse and versatile female singers take us on an uplifting journey through fantastic heart-on-the-sleeve standards, like "Phenomenal Woman," "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," and "Natural Woman." Part Concert. Part Play. All Heart.

Written by August Wilson
Directed by Lou Bellamy
April 26-May 22, 2016, Quadracci Powerhouse

The beloved Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning drama, Fences explores a family’s hopes and dreams in a rapidly changing 1950s America. Troy Maxson, a former Negro League baseball player, must grapple with the reality of his life as a sanitation worker in Pittsburgh. "Fences" is August Wilson at his best: challenging the American dream through a poetic, powerful and deeply personal story.