Looking Ahead to the Community Theater Season
In the avalanche of announcements of upcoming arts seasons for 2022-23, it’s time to play catch-up with our area’s community theaters.
No surprise: Musicals, perennially the favorite of audiences, predominate for the coming year. But there’s a drama or two in the mix, along with several productions aimed squarely at families.
First up, the venerable Players Centre, launching its 93rd season, with a lineup of six shows at Studio 1130 at The Crossings at Siesta Key. Side by Side by Sondheim, a revue celebrating work of the masterful Stephen Sondheim, bows Sept. 8-18. Then audiences can return to Skid Row and that man-eating plant with the musical comedy Little Shop of Horrors, on tap Oct. 6-16. Get in the spirit of Christmas with Miracle on 34th Street: A Live Musical Radio Play adapted from the 1947 Lux Radio broadcast, marking the upcoming holidays Dec. 1-11.
David Auburn’s Pulitzer Prize winner Proof, following a woman dealing with several issues in the aftermath of her brilliant father’s death, takes the stage Jan. 12-22, followed by the perennial favorite, the two-woman show Always...Patsy Cline, based on the friendship between the late great country singer and her biggest fan (Feb. 2-12). And Stephen Schwartz’s musical retelling of the Gospel of Matthew, Godspell, will close the season March 9-19. Learn more by visiting theplayers.org, or call (941) 365-2494.
Let’s take a look at Venice Theatre’s 73rd season. For 2022-23, VT has lined up its shows this way: The Jervey Five (five shows in the 432-seat Jervey Theatre), The Stage 2 Four (four in the 90-seat Pinkerton), and the simply put “More Offerings in Both Theatres.” Here we go, in that order.
Playing Sept. 16-Oct. 2 in the Jervey will be Lauren Gunderson’s The Revolutionists, in which four “bodacious” women lose their heads (literally) in a tragicomedy set during the French Revolution. That’s followed by a hit Broadway musical, Oct. 21-Nov. 20, of which the title has not yet been announced, but if you know much about Broadway shows, you can figure it out from these clues: It’s based on a British film, and it won six Tonys in 2013, including Best Score for a certain icon of the 1980s. Got it?
A new show conceived by local music makers Scott Keys and Michelle Kasanofsky, tentatively titled You’ve Got a Friend, promises a tapestry of songs that will make the earth move under your feet. Sounds like Carole King, all right.
Next comes the longtime superhit Gypsy (Feb. 24-March 26), with music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, telling more or less the true story of young Gypsy Rose Lee and her Mama Rose. Then we get serious with Arthur Miller’s Pulitzer winner Death of a Salesman, April 28-May 14.
In the Stage 2 lineup is the theatrical docudrama about those dedicated to revolution against the U.S. government, God’s Country by Steven Dietz, Sept. 9-25. Ivan Menchell’s popular romantic comedy The Cemetery Club, about three Jewish widows meeting once a month before visiting their husbands’ graves, takes the stage Jan. 20-Feb. 12. Things get topical with Lisa Loomer’s Roe, March 3-19, which may bear extra relevance just now; and Lydia R. Diamond’s Lizzie Stranton, a more contemporary version of the ancient Lysistrata, in which women threaten to end war by withholding sex. Hope that works. May 5-28.
Now to those other offerings: Coming up July 19-24, The Fantasticks; Aug. 4-7, Godspell Jr.; Oct. 7-16, Arabian Nights; Nov. 18-Dec. 20, Xanadu; Dec. 9-20, A Christmas Carol; March 30-April 2, performances by the volunteer troupe The Silver Foxes; and last but not least, Little Women, the Broadway musical version of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved story, March 31-April 23.
Subscription packages are on sale now, at venicetheatre.org or by calling (941) 488-1115.
Across the county line in Bradenton, the Manatee Performing Arts Center has also announced its season, an all musical one that commences in August with Frank Loesser’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. That’s followed by, guess what, another production of Gypsy (so take your pick between MPAC and VT, or go to both!) in October. The much-beloved Meredith Willson show The Music Man arrives in December, with the more recent, more serious Next to Normal, about a family struggling with the effects of mental illness, taking the stage in January.
Stephen Sondheim’s early hit musical, Company, about a bachelor surrounded by married friends, is set for March, and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s version of the Billy Wilder film Sunset Boulevard will be presented during April and May.
No specific closing dates were given yet, but season ticket renewals are due by June 1, and new subscribers can book by then as well. Single show ticket sales begin July 1. Check it out at manateeperformingartscenter.com, or call (941) 748-5875.