“Mary Poppins” and “The Drowsy Chaperone,” both being produced on The Theatre in the Park stage for the first time, and three Broadway hits from the past bring variety to The Theatre’s 2016 season.
“The lineup offers our patrons a wide variety of musical theater that includes two shows with subject matter not appropriate for youngsters, a colorful biblical story and two new shows suitable for the entire family,” said Tim Bair, producing artistic director of Theatre in the Park.
The 2016 season opens June 3 with “Cabaret” (rated PG-13), followed by “The Drowsy Chaperone” (rated G), “A Chorus Line” (rated PG 16), “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” and “Mary Poppins” (both rated G).
“While three shows have been on our stage in the past, we think it’s time to introduce them to a new theater-going audience,” Bair said.
“Mary Poppins” will be co-produced by The Theatre in the Park and the Jewish Community Center in which both theaters use the same cast, share the cost of costumes, sets and props and keep their own gate receipts. This is the third show they have collaborated on, starting with “Hairspray” in 2013 and “Shrek” last year.
“Mary Poppins” runs first in White Theatre at JCC, then moves to The Theatre in the Park to close the 2016 season. Bair will direct the show at both theaters.
“We’ve been talking about it since last summer. There are several reasons to co-produce ‘Mary Poppins,’ not the least is expense,” he said. “It’s a great family show that also appeals to adults and also costs a good chunk of change to produce.”
“As we did with ‘Peter Pan’ in 2013 we bring in a flying company to handle the aerial scenes in ‘Mary Poppins’ and that’s costly,” Bair said. “JCC had already planned to run the show this summer so co-producing worked well for both theaters.”
“Cabaret” opened on Broadway in 1966 and follows Sally Bowles, an American singer, working in a Berlin nightclub in the 1930s as the Nazi Party takes over Germany. “Cabaret” is directed by Mark Swezey, director of theater at Shawnee Mission South High School. Swezey has directed more than 20 shows at The Theatre in the Park, including the first time “Cabaret” was produced there in 1988.
David Hastings, a drama teacher at Olathe South High School, will direct “The Drowsy Chaperone” in its first time at the Theatre. “It’s a light, feel-good show with a lot of laughs,” said Hastings, who directed “Peter Pan” in 2013. He also directed “Gypsy,” “Urinetown” and “Les Miserables” at Theatre in the Park.
“ ‘Chaperone’ is about a lonely, depressed gentleman who sits alone in his apartment listening to 1920s music when the cast of a make believe musical comes to life, rousing him with singing and dancing,” Hastings said. “It’s a play within a play and good entertainment.”
“A Chorus Line,” directed by Greg Shaw, examines the lives of 17 dancers vying for a spot in the chorus line of a Broadway musical during the 1970s. During the audition they begin revealing their true feelings about life. The stories are funny, heartbreaking and refreshingly honest.
The show won a Tony for best musical in 1976. Shaw, who teaches speech and theater at Pittsburg High School, has directed 10 shows at Theatre in the Park, most recently “9 to 5,” a musical based on the 1980s movie, in 2013.
Guy Gardner makes his Theatre in the Park debut as director of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” the biblical story of Joseph, whose dreams put him in conflict with his brothers who sell him into slavery. Gardner choreographed “The Secret Garden” last year.
Dates of auditions for the 2016 season have been announced by Bair. They will be held on consecutive Saturdays, March 19 and 26, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at a location to be determined later. “We’re making changes in the audition process this year to reduce the hours of waiting performers have experienced in the past,” Bair said. “Those auditioning can now select their time slot in advance cutting the waiting time substantially.”
“We hope this will allow people to be in and out within two hours. We also are not requiring a dance audition for everyone as we have in the past. I’m hopeful this will attract people who are not comfortable dancing and are really just interested in singing roles,” Bair said.
Full details about auditions can be found at www.theatreinthepark.org/2016-audition-info. Walk-in auditions will still be permitted on March 26 beginning at 3 p.m.
Cabaret: June 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10 and 11
The Drowsy Chaperone: June 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24 and 25
A Chorus Line: July 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8 and 9
Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat: July 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22 and 23
Mary Poppins: White Theatre at Jewish Community Center July 9, 14, 16, 21 and 23 at 7:30 p.m. and July 10, 17, and 24 at 2 p.m.: The Theatre in the Park July 29, 30, 31, Aug. 3, 4, 5 and 6.
Show time is 8:30 p.m. for all shows at The Theatre in the Park. The box office opens at 6 p.m. and gates to the seating bowl open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $8 adults, $6 youths and children 3 and under are free.