LOWELL -- Charles Towers says it's a fluke that the final show he directs as Merrimack Repertory Theatre's artistic director is "The Outgoing Tide." But it's fitting, nonetheless.
"It's pure coincidence that a play with the word 'outgoing' in the title would be my final production as artistic director," he said recently.
"The entire 2014-15 season was selected and announced before I made my decision to pass the torch. But now that I'm in rehearsals with Bruce Graham's wonderful play, I can't imagine a better way to say goodbye to our wonderful audience."
The play opens in previews on April 23, to the press on April 26 and runs through May 15.
It is the second play by Graham that Towers has directed here in recent years, after partnering in last season's popular production of "Stella and Lou."
"While 'The Outgoing Tide' still reflects Bruce's unique blend of humor and heartbreak, the story couldn't be more different from 'Stella and Lou.' The twists, the turns, the deeply recognizable family relationships and, of course, Bruce's incomparable wit, all combine to carry us to a place where dignity, honesty and humanity take hold and refuse to let go," he noted.
The play focuses on Gunner Concannon, who is dealing with an aging mind and his uncertain future. But he has a plan, although it is not what his wife Peg and son Jack had in mind.
"Despite dealing with Gunner's condition, it's a very funny play. I knew I wanted to bring it to MRT audiences the first time I read it, since I laughed and laughed throughout and was weeping at the end," said Towers.
He has assembled a cast of actors who each have previous credits at MRT. Ross Bickell (Gunner) won an IRNE (Independent Reviewers of New England) Award for 2007-2008's "A Delicate Balance" and also appeared in "The Drawer Boy." Felicity LaFortune (Peg) appeared in last year's "Equally Divided," and David Adkins (Jack) was in "The Seafarer," "Homestead Crossing" and "Glengarry Glen Ross."
Towers' creative team is rounded out by others he has worked with through the years: scenic designer James Fenton, costume designer Deborah Newhall, lighting designer Dan Kotlowitz and sound designer Benjamin Emerson.
"It's like a family situation; they all came together and worked well. Knock on wood, it's going fabulously well," Tower said.
And, he added, "I'm glad that it happened that 'Outgoing Tide' is my final play here. It's a rich evening of theater and a celebration of life and love," he said.
And he couldn't be more pleased saying goodbye to audiences in this way.
Performances are in the Nancy L. Donahue Theatre, 50 East Merrimack St., Lowell. $20-$60 at www.mrt.org or call 978-654-4678.
On the marquee
A TIMELESS CLASSIC: Actors Inc. presents Rodgers and Hammerstein's "Oklahoma!" on Friday, April 24 at 7 p.m. and Saturday, April 25 at 1 and 7 p.m. in the Cyrus Irish Auditorium of Lowell High School, 50 Father Morissette Blvd. The show is presented in conjunction with the Kiwanis Club of Greater Lowell. The Lowell Philharmonic Orchestra provides the music, which includes such classics as "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'," "Surrey with the Fringe On Top" and "People Will Say We're in Love." Tickets start at $30 at 978-984-3151 or www.actorsincorporated.com.
TIME OF YOUR LIFE: "Dirty Dancing -- The Classic Story on Stage," based on the hit movie starring Jennifer Grey and Patrick Swayze, plays the Citi Emerson Colonial Theatre April 28-May 10. $34 and up at 800-982-2787 or www.BroadwayinBoston.com.
SUMMER FUN: Sister's on her way back -- the irrepressible Sister, that is, who wowed crowds 20 years ago with "Late Nite Catechism" in Boston, brings "Sister's Summer School Catechism, God Never Takes a Vacation" to Stoneham Theatre June 18-28. $45-$60 at www.stonehamtheatre.org.
Nancye Tuttle's email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.