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The Expectations Season Awaits

Season Reveal Photo by JLA Photography

Live Arts Theater is excited to announce a dynamic lineup of four plays, a powerhouse musical, and a new works festival for its 2023/24 Expectations Season. The 33rd anniversary season opens with Anton Chekhov’s UNCLE VANYA performed in rotating repertory with LIFE SUCKS. by Aaron Posner, followed by a holiday offering—the sequel to Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice—MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon. The Tony® award-winning musical KINKY BOOTS hits the Live Arts stage in the new year, with music and lyrics by Cyndi Lauper and book by Harvey Fierstein, followed by the Virginia premiere of the powerful two-hander FIREFLIES by Donja R. Love. The Expectations Season closes with the return of the Live Arts WATERWORKS festival, a month-long celebration of new theatrical works that brought in more than 600 submissions and engaged hundreds of volunteers during its inaugural year. 

“An element of magic is built into the fabric of live theater. Audiences sit and prepare to be surprised—expecting the unexpected,” says Artistic Director Susan E. Evans.  “Even with a well-known play, live performances are always tangibly tingling with the unknown.” Each show in the 2023/24 Live Arts season explores expectations in its own way. “Characters hope for love, or expect disappointment in love and getting the happy reverse. Some expect failure but wondrously find success,” Evans explains. “We are waiting, anticipating, and holding our collective breath as the curtain is whisked aside.”

Subscribers to the 2023/24 Expectations Season get substantial savings of up to 53% off affordable single ticket prices, premium seating, and other benefits. Subscription options include new discounted packages for educators of all kinds and theater-lovers under 30 years old. As an added bonus, all subscribers now enjoy an extra perk of 20% off additional single tickets for Live Arts shows. Single ticket prices range from $27 to $33 with 10% discounts available for students and senior citizens.

The 2023/24 Expectations Season is presented by Elizabeth LeVaca in memory of the late Joe LeVaca. Season ticket packages ($90-$270) are on sale now through the Live Arts Box Office at, by phone at 434-977-4177 x123, or online at

The 2023/24 Expectations Season

By Anton Chekhov
Directed by Susan E. Evans

September 29-October 29, 2023

Live Arts opens the season with two plays in rotating repertory, alternating performances this fall: UNCLE VANYA and LIFE SUCKS. 

Anton Chekhov’s 1897 masterpiece UNCLE VANYA is a fitting start to a season about “expectations.” When a pretentious gouty professor and his much younger new wife—bewitching, beautiful, and oh so restless—return to his country estate, tensions escalate to the tipping point. The professor’s brother-in-law, the eponymous Ványa, and his long-suffering niece have been keeping the estate afloat for 25 years, but the professor has plans. Throw a few more intensely volatile and fascinating houseguests into the mix, plus a veritable stew of hidden frustrations and passions, and the tedium of their provincial life is upended.

“Life is a tragedy because it’s so farcical.” – The New York Times [from a review of UNCLE VANYA.]

By Aaron Posner
Directed by Fran Smith

September 29-October 29, 2023

LIFE SUCKS. is “sort of adapted from UNCLE VANYA,” playwright Aaron Posner says. His delightfully comic contemporary riff is faithful in its essence to Chekhov’s classic. Seven disgruntled old friends, ex-lovers, estranged in-laws, and lifelong enemies gather and grumble, tangle, carouse, yearn for love, and generally contemplate the meaning of it all.

“[LIFE SUCKS.] is altogether wise, profoundly humane, hilarious, quirky, endearing and, in countless clever ways, brilliantly faithful to its source.” – Chicago Sun-Times

By Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon
Directed by Marianne Kubik

December 1-17, 2023

In December 2023, we journey to Pemberley and the grand estate of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy. MISS BENNET: CHRISTMAS AT PEMBERLEY continues Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice two years after the novel ends, now with bookish, middle sister Mary as the heroine. As Bennet sisters Mary, Jane, and Lydia gather at Lizzy’s for Christmas, an unexpected gentleman arrives. Has Mary met her intellectual match, and perhaps found true love? MISS BENNET is a romantic holiday comedy sure to delight Jane-ites and newcomers alike!

“A perfectly constructed love story … destined to populate future holiday seasons.” – San Francisco Chronicle

Music & Lyrics by Cyndi Lauper
Book by Harvey Fierstein
Directed by Jude Hansen
Musical Direction by Abby Smith
Choreography by Cory Douylliez-Willis

Runs February 16-March 10, 2024

Featuring a Tony® and Grammy®-winning score by Cyndi Lauper and book by Tony® winner Harvey Fierstein, and inspired by a true story, the huge-hearted musical KINKY BOOTS struts down the Live Arts stage in February 2024. Charlie is out of ideas; he’s inherited his father’s shoe factory and it’s going under. Along comes Lola, a fabulous drag entertainer needing a pair of sturdy stilettos, and an unlikely partnership is born. As they work together to turn the fortunes of the factory around, they discover that we can change the world when we change our minds.

“It’s why the word fabulous was invented! … A splashy, bouncy, smart show with a heart, beltable songs and hilarious numbers.” – The Philadelphia Inquirer

FIREFLIES (Virginia Premiere)
By Donja R. Love
Directed by Ti Ames

March 29-April 20, 2024

Before the lights come up in FIREFLIES, you hear the insects humming. Then you start to see them flying in a bright red sky, and hear a repetitive boom … boom … boom. It’s the fall of 1963 and four Black children have just been killed in the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Donja R. Love’s “The Love* Plays” is a trilogy exploring Queer love through Black history. FIREFLIES is part two of the trilogy, centering on the civil rights movement. Olivia is the speechwriter for her charismatic husband, the Reverend Charles Emmanuel Grace, a galvanizing leader in the movement. As he returns home, we witness their marriage at crisis point, as secrets are laid bare. In this story of endurance and empowerment, the language is rich, rhythmic and riveting.    

“A jaw-dropping and explosively dramatic two-hander. Love crafts an intimate story that comes to feel cosmic in its enormity by the end.” –

Curated by New Works Director Adrienne Oliver

Runs May 17-June 2, 2024

In May 2024, we’re bouncing off the ropes for round two of WATERWORKS! Launched in 2023, this three-week festival celebrates new theatrical voices by putting the playwright at center stage and diversifying the stories told on the Charlottesville stage.  

The festival includes two pieces submitted by 2023 WATERWORKS Emerging Artist Award winners, and further developed throughout the season:

AH WING AND THE AUTOMATON EAGLE by Brandon Zang; A steampunk, alternate history retelling of the 1877 San Francisco Chinatown riot.

THE COLOUR WOMAN by Petron Brown; A new play juggling with the intersecting themes of colorism, immigration, and Caribbean folklore.

WATERWORKS also features Locally Sourced, sponsored by long-time champions of local playwrights, Geri and Bruce Schirmer. The annual short play festival showcasing pieces developed by Live Arts Playwrights’ Lab, and plenty of readings, performances, and events.

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