Since this is the first blog for the new website, I will start with painful honesty. There is a committee of board members, volunteers, and staff that goes through hell to pick the season. These insanely diligent people are Mary Hughes, Marsha Stewart, Mary Lemon, Pam Jones, Gary Demuth, David Greiser, Jill French, Peggy Simms, and me. These people have truly suffered for your art.
First, prayers are raised and small sacrifices are made in the hopes that some exciting new musical will suddenly become available during the time period from August through January, when we all meet usually twice a month. Otherwise, we keep throwing out titles we love that at least half the committee will hate. I am told that I have a particular face that I make when certain titles are brought up, indicating a reaction somewhere between horror and nausea.
This year, two great new titles became available, “Mary Poppins” and “A Christmas Story, the Musical.” “West Side Story” was a longer chase. We actually wanted it last season, but a touring, non-equity production in our area closed us out. We tried again this year and were again disappointed. But a combination of persistence, begging, and distance opened that door.
It may surprise most of you to know that the depth of comedies and dramas has been incredibly rich over the past few years. The new business model for non-musicals on Broadway is to hire a movie star (Tom Hanks, Denzel Washington), play for 16 weeks with a possible 4-week extension, then everyone goes home with money in their pockets (everyone, that is, except working New York actors, a fact bemoaned by several friends in the industry). So, enter into our season “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” and “Clybourne Park,” both Tony winners, one a Pulitzer winner. We finished our selection marathon with two American classics, “Barefoot in the Park” and “Deathtrap,” one about youth and new marriage, and the other about… well, a deathtrap (I’m kidding, as it’s the mystery/comedy that you’re going to love to scream at).
“Mary Poppins” opens the season, and in the next couple of blogs, I’ll tease you with some of the inside scoop about how it got made, how we¹re doing it, and who you’ll be able to thank that it got done at all.
Now go buy a ticket.
– Michael Spicer