Get ready for a fun summer with TheatreTheater in the Park’s 2014 season announced today, Oct. 21, and plan to attend all family-friendly shows in the park’s amphitheater where picnics, blankets, coolers, lawn chairs and rockin’ musicals come annually.
Theatre in the Park’s Producing Artistic Director, Tim Bair listed the shows as Pirates of Penzance, Guys & Dolls, Honk, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and Ragtime.
First up, the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, The Pirates of Penzance opens the season and runs weekends from June 6-14. Book & Lyrics by Sir William Schwenck Gilbert and Music by Sir Arthur Seymour Sullivan. The show, widely produced on Broadway, completed runs in 1879, 1900, 1912, 1915, 1918, 1926, 1927, 1931, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1936, 1939, 1940, 1942, 1944, 1946, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1955, 1976, and 1981. That’s right, 25 mountings of the famous musical.
“A fresh take on one of Gilbert and Sullivan's most popular comic operas, this updated version of The Pirates of Penzance took New York by storm when it premiered in Central Park in 1980, leading to a subsequent smash-hit Broadway run,” Bair said. “Wacky, irreverent and as entertaining today as it was when it first opened in 1879, The Pirates of Penzance spins an hilarious farce of sentimental pirates, bumbling policemen, dim-witted young lovers, dewy-eyed daughters and an eccentric Major-General, all morally bound to the often-ridiculous dictates of honor and duty.”
The show is rated G.
Next up for Theatre in the Park, comes a well-loved family classic that went from Broadway musical to major movie musical, Guys & Dolls. The show rung weekends of June 20-22 & 26-28, and is based on the book by Jo Swerling and Abe Burrows, with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, and stems from the story and characters of The Idyll of Sarah Brown by Damon Runyon.
“Set in Damon Runyon's mythical New York City, this oddball romantic comedy - considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy - soars with the spirit of Broadway,” Bair said. “Guys & Dolls introduces us to a cast of vivid characters who have become legends in the canon: Sarah Brown, the upright but uptight "mission doll," out to reform the evildoers of Time Square; Sky Masterson, the slick, high-rolling gambler who woos her on a bet and ends up falling in love; Adelaide, the chronically ill nightclub performer whose condition is brought on by the fact she's been engaged to the same man for 14 years; and Nathan Detroit, her devoted fiancé, desperate as always to find a spot for his infamous floating crap game.”
The show is rated G.
For the kids, the annual Fourth of July show always packs ‘em in–families with children, parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. This year’s production of Honk comes for the holiday offering running July 4-6 & 10-12.
With book by Anthony Drewe, music by George Stiles, lyrics by Anthony Drewe and based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling, the G-rated story aims to please.
“In the London season featuring the appearance of Disney’s The Lion King, HONK! became a stand-out by winning the 2000 Olivier Award (the British equivalent of the Tony® Award) for Best New Musical,” Bair said.
A synopsis of the show states, “Written by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe (dubbed “The brightest hopes for the future of the British musical” by The London Daily Telegraph), HONK! is the story of Ugly, whose odd, gawky looks instantly incite prejudice from his family and neighbors. Separated from the farm and pursued by a hungry Cat, Ugly must find his way home. Along his rollicking and harrowing journey he not only discovers his true beauty and glorious destiny, but also finds love and acceptance in all its forms.”
The show is rated G.
What’s more American than apple pie and Mark Twain? As such, Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, Aunt Polly, Injun Joe, Becky Thatcher and Hanibal, MO come to mind. With that in mind, prepare for the next musical, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
From July 18-20 & 24-26, audiences step back into the 1800 along the Missouri River and Hanibal, MO. Noted playwright, Ken Ludwig conceived and wrote the show, with music and lyrics by Don Schlitz from the novel by Mark Twain.
“The classic Mark Twain story jumps off the page and comes to life in this musical adaptation of America's favorite book, Bair said. “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is the irresistible story of a fourteen-year-old boy growing up in the heartland of America.
“Set in 1840 Missouri, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is the tale of young Tom Sawyer and the never ending mischief of which he so often finds himself a part of; whether it's matching wits with Aunt Polly, tricking his friends into white-washing a fence for him, or narrowly escaping the clutches of a murderous villain. Along with best friend Huckleberry Finn and love interest Becky Thatcher, the greatest Tom Sawyer exploits are plucked from the book and plopped on the stage.
“Aside from having one of the most recognizable titles from literary history, this musical piece is a superb family-friendly show.”
The show is rated G.
The final production of the Theatre in the Park season, Ragtime, comes from the novel of the same name by E. L Doctorow. The show runs Aug. 1-3 & 7-9. Book by Terrence McNally, music by Stephen Flaherty, and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, the music and story causes a sensation and encourages multiple viewings.
According to the Theatre in the Park’s website, “Called by Time Magazine "A triumph for the stage," and by the International Herald Tribune "the best musical in twenty years," this acclaimed musical won 1998 Tony Awards for Best Score, Book and Orchestrations, and won both the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Musical and Best Score.
“Ragtime is not only a powerful portrait of life in turn-of-the-century America, but a relevant tale for today. Written by the award-winning composer/lyricist team of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens (Once on This Island, Seussical–The Musical, and Lucky Stiff), noted playwright Terrence McNally, (Kiss of the Spider Woman and Master Class), and based on E.L. Doctorow's distinguished novel, the musical intertwines the stories of three extraordinary families, as they confront history's timeless contradictions of wealth and poverty, freedom and prejudice, hope and despair, and what it means to live in America.
“The Tony-winning score by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty is just as diverse as the melting pot of America itself. It draws upon many musical styles from the ragtime rhythms of Harlem and Tin Pan Alley to the klezmer of the Lower East Side, from bold brass band marches to delicate waltzes, from up-tempo banjo tunes to period parlor songs and expansive anthems.”
The powerful story of Ragtime does feature some adult themes, though not strongly adult. The show contains some racial language and situations based on America in the Ragtime Era. Many of the figures in the show came from real persons and their stories. Harry Houdini, Emma Goldberg, Henry Ford, are characters in the show. Also the show looks at immigrants, high society, slaves, labor unions, racial prejudice and more.
Parental guidance is suggested for Ragtime. Ragtime is rated PG.
Overall, TheTheatre in the Park’s summer season continues to produce family-friendly shows in a casual atmosphere. More information about each production may also be found on the website: theatreinthepark.org.