Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Theatre Thoughts: Our 85th Season

From the little village of Anatevka, Russia to a shabby New York apartment, all the way out on Avenue Q, with stops in 1960s Alabama, Victorian London, 1980s Georgia, and a professor’s home near a small college campus, Theatre Charlotte once again takes you on an incredible theatrical journey during our 2012-2013 season. Theatre has the power to change lives, and Theatre Charlotte has been changing lives since 1927—85 years and counting!

During its 85 years, Theatre Charlotte has produced over 450 main stage productions which have been seen by over half a million theatre-goers and utilized the services of thousands of volunteers onstage, backstage and front of house. For the 85th season, Theatre Charlotte will present five main stage productions and A CHRISTMAS CAROL.

After several years of trying to secure the performing rights, we finally are able to bring the beloved musical FIDDLER ON THE ROOF to our audiences. The performing rights had been on hold due to a successful multi-year tour which finally came to an end in time. At one time, FIDDLER ON THE ROOF was the longest running production in Broadway history, featuring a wonderful score highlighted by “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” and “Sunrise, Sunset.” This timeless musical has always finished at or near the top of our annual audience surveys. Vito Abate directs, with Lisa Blanton choreographing and Ryan Deal as music director.

Our second production of the season is the regional premiere of John Ball’s IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, adapted by Matt Pelfrey. It is based on the award-winning book that inspired the Oscar-winning film (starring Rod Steiger and Sidney Poitier) and the Emmy-winning television series (starring Carroll O’Connor and Howard E. Rollins). It is an intense adult crime drama that is set in a racially-tense community Alabama in 1962. A white man is murdered and the local police arrest a black stranger named Virgil Tibbs. It is discovered that Tibbs is actually a homicide detective from California and he becomes the community’s main hope in solving the brutal murder. This absorbing drama will be directed by Dave Blamy.

In December, Theatre Charlotte’s holiday tradition, A CHRISTMAS CAROL, is back for the sixth consecutive year. It is the classic tale of hard-hearted Ebenezer Scrooge who is visited by the ghost of his late partner, Jacob Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. This year, A CHRISTMAS CAROL will be directed by Kevin Campbell, who has played Scrooge at Theatre Charlotte for the past five years.

Our January production is just “dad-gum” funny. It is Larry Shue’s THE FOREIGNER and is set in a fishing lodge in Georgia. An incredibly shy Englishman, Charlie Baker, is visiting the lodge and is too embarrassed to talk to anyone so he adopts the persona of a foreigner who doesn’t understand English. When the other people at the lodge begin to speak freely around him, he hears many things he is not supposed to-secrets both frivolous and dangerous. The cast includes the 70-year old owner of the lodge, a fraudulent preacher, his attractive fiancĂ©, and other memorable comic characters. Paige Johnston Thomas, the director of Theatre Charlotte’s STEEL MAGNOLIAS, returns to direct this comedy.

In March, Theatre Charlotte is excited to present the tragicomedy, WHO’S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? by one of America’s greatest playwrights, Edward Albee. It is the classic dark comedy in which George and Martha take part in a searing night of dangerous fun and games. The play inspired the award-winning motion picture starring Elizabeth Taylor as Martha and Richard Burton as George. With its razor-sharp dialogue and shocking ending, this was a landmark Broadway play that changed the face of American theatre.

The season concludes in May with AVENUE Q, winner of the Tony Awards for Best Musical, Score and Book. The cast includes puppets and humans and is a funny musical that tells the story of a recent college graduate who moves into a shabby New York apartment out on Avenue Q. It soon becomes clear that this is not an ordinary neighborhood. And be advised: this play contains full puppet nudity.

I think this is a fabulous line-up to celebrate our 85th anniversary season. We hope you agree and join us for all six of our productions. We at Theatre Charlotte are proud of our heritage and excited about our future—as we head toward 100 years of presenting outstanding theatre for the people of the Charlotte region.

Season ticket packages for our upcoming season will go on sale Friday, April 20, 2012.