Add another name to the roster of local arts groups announcing 2021-22 seasons, after a pandemic-impacted 2020: the Manatee Players.
The community theater troupe, which presents productions at the Manatee Performing Arts Center, had managed to offer some theater this past season, inside its building for limited-capacity audiences, in a drive-in movie theater format, and via home streaming. But moving forward, producing artistic director Rick Kerby plans a full return to the live stage, albeit the season will be a shorter one as staff numbers were reduced because of the pandemic.
So, as the organization rebuilds that staff and capacity, it will present five musicals beginning in October and running through May.
First up, Mamma Mia!, the ABBA-inspired hit about a young woman’s search for her birth father, set in a Greek island paradise. The show opens Oct. 14 and is set to run through Oct. 31.
It’s followed by another feel-good musical, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella, which first starred Julie Andrews in a television production back in the 1950s and later scored again on the small screen with Lesley Ann Warren and once more with Brandy in the title role. That runs Dec. 2-19 as a holiday brightener.
Iconic film actor, writer, producer and director Charlie Chaplin is the focus of the next show, Chaplin The Musical, which spans his career from 19th-century London to his creation of his famous Tramp character and beyond, as well as revealing his often turbulent personal life. It features a score by Christopher Curtis and a book by Thomas Meehan and runs Jan. 20-Feb. 6.
The Will Rogers Follies, a hit for the Manatee Players in previous productions, returns to the stage March 10-27 to tell the life story of another beloved comedian, Will Rogers. Subtitled A Life in Revue, this one portrays the major events of Rogers' life through big production numbers (and, yes, that means lots of showgirls and rope tricks).
Closing out the main season will be the previously planned production of Titanic the Musical, featuring music and lyrics by Maury Yeston and a book by Peter Stone, that examines the first—and last—voyage of that doomed ship. Titanic was actually in rehearsal in the spring of 2020 when production had to shut down. Dates are now set for April 28-May 15, 2022.
The theater will also stage the Stephen Schwartz musical Pippin, running Aug. 12-29, but it is not part of the five-show subscription series, as seating and distancing issues may still apply at that time. And the Action through Acting series, which takes place in the Kiwanis Studio Theatre, will also return; it currently includes Denny, King of the Basement in March and Go Ask Alice in May. John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, also postponed from an earlier run, may finally be presented as well.
For complete season/show information, call (941) 748-5875 or visit manateeperformingartscenter.com.