The Theatre in the Park has unveiled an ambitious 2018 schedule with 12 productions, including seven indoor shows at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center and five at the outdoor amphitheater in Shawnee Mission Park.
“This is a huge season for us,” Theatre in the Park Producing Artistic Director Tim Bair said. “It’s our first full season since the Arts & Heritage Center opened and, with 12 shows on the docket, we are looking forward to an entire year of outdoor and indoor fun.”
The slate all gets underway March 9 at the Arts & Heritage Center, 8878 Metcalf Ave. in Overland Park, with the R-rated “Avenue Q.” The Broadway show won Tony Awards for best musical, best score and best book.
The show is packed with adult humor as it follows a recent Princeton graduate as he moves into a shabby apartment, all he can afford, on Avenue Q and makes life-changing friends.
“Avenue Q” is directed by Tiffany Schweigert, who is making her directorial debut at The Theatre in the Park.
The opening show for the outdoor season in Shawnee Mission Park, 7710 Renner Road, is more family friendly with “The Little Mermaid,” an enchanting fairy tale based on a Hans Christian Anderson story, scheduled to open June 8.
“We want to start the season off with large, enthusiastic crowds, especially families whom we hope will be back for more,” Bair said. “‘The Little Mermaid’ is that kind of show.”
Ariel, a 16-year-old mermaid, sees a handsome young sailor, who actually is a prince, on the deck of a passing ship and wants to pursue him. She strikes a bargain with Ursula, the wicked sea witch, to trade her fins and tail for legs so she can go on land.
With the aid of her undersea friends, Ariel’s story eventually has a happy ending.
Shawnee Mission South’s longtime theater director, Mark Swezey, will direct the debut of “The Little Mermaid” at The Theatre in the Park. He directed “Camp Rock, the Musical” last summer and has directed more than 20 shows for the company.
Directed by Julie Erving, “South Pacific” — a Broadway classic that features Rogers and Hammerstein classics such as “Some Enchanted Evening,” “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out of My Hair,” “Bali Ha’i” and “Nothing Like a Dame” — returns to The Theatre in the Park June 22.
Set on a Pacific island during World War II, the story revolves around two romances both beset by prejudices: one between Nellie, a nurse, and Emile, a mature French planter; and another between Lt. Joe Cable and a Tonkinese girl.
Next, fairy tales become larger than life July 6 with “Into the Woods,” a touching musical that deals with three wishes: Cinderella’s wish to attend the King’s festival; Jack’s wish that his cow, Milky White, would give milk; and a baker and his wife’s wish for a child.
Although, all their wishes are granted, there are consequences that return to haunt them.
“Into the Woods,” written by James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim, opened on Broadway in 1987 and won three Tony Awards including best score. It’s directed by Chris McCoy, who directed “Annie Warbucks” two years ago at The Theatre in the Park.
Laughter returns in full force July 20 as “The Addams Family” makes its The Theatre in the Park debut complete with Morticia, Gomez, Wednesday, Lurch and Uncle Fester.
Family drama ensues when young Wednesday falls in love with a nice young man from a respectable family and the kooky Addams family must host a dinner for the “normal” boyfriend and his parents.
“The Addams Family” is directed by Zach Faust.
Finally, the curtain comes down on The Theatre in the Park’s outdoor 2018 season with Disney’s “High School Musical,” a two-act show about students at East High balancing their classes and extra-curricular activities after the winter break.
A romance develops between Troy, captain of the basketball team, and Gabriella, a girl he met on a ski trip who has transferred to East High.
The second act is the last day of school when students are looking for summer jobs and college money. Troy gets jobs for students at the County Club but Sharpay, whose father owns the Club, tries to steal Troy from Gabriella. All ends well when the group remembers its motto “All for one and one for all.”
Disney’s “High School Musical,” which opens Aug. 3, is directed by Guy Gardner. He directed “Back to the 80s’”at The Theatre in the Park last season and “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in 2015.
Auditions for the 2018 season took place Feb. 24-25 at the Arts & Heritage Center and cast lists were expected to be announced March 4. Those auditioning were required to bring their own sheet music and sing 16 measures of a song of their choice.
The Theatre in the Park Academy, which also produces a range of shows, will be split into three two-week sessions with two in June for performers in third through eighth grades and one in July for performers in fifth through 12th grades.
The Academy produces a total of four shows, including one during the winter session, at the Arts & Heritage Center’s theatre: “Willie Wonka Kids,” June 16 and 30; “Lion King Kids,” June 16 and 30; “James and The Giant Peach Jr.” July 16 and 30; and “Zombie Prom,” Dec. 28 and 29.
This year’s The Theatre in the Park indoor season for the Arts & Heritage Center wraps up with “In the Heights” from Oct. 5-25 and “The Happy Elf” from Dec. 7-23.
Curtain time for all outdoor productions is 8:30 p.m. Admission is $8 adults, $6 youths and children under three are free.
Admission for productions in the Arts & Heritage Center, with the exception of Academy shows, is $16.50 or $14.85 for seniors over 60 years old. Academy shows are $10.
2018 The Theatre in the Park season
Indoor schedule at the Arts & Heritage Center, 8878 Metcalf Ave.
“Avenue Q” — March 9-11, 15-18, 22-25 (Rated R)
“In the Heights” — Oct. 5-7, 11-14, 18-21 (Rated PG)
“The Happy Elf” — Dec. 7-9, 13-16, 20-23 (Rated G)
Outdoor schedule at Shawnee Mission Park, 7710 Renner Road
Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” — June 8-10 and 13-16 (Rated G)
“South Pacific” — June 22-24 and 27-30 (Rated PG)
“Into the Woods” — July 6-8 and 11-14 (Rated PG)
“The Addams Family” — July 20-22 and 25-28 (Rated PG)
Disney’s “High School Musical” — Aug. 3-5 and 8-11 (Rated G)
Academy shows at the Arts & Heritage Center, 8878 Metcalf Ave.
“Willie Wonka Kids” — June 16 and 30 (Rated G)
“Lion King Kids” — June 16 and 30 (Rated (G)
“James and the Giant Peach Jr.” — July 27-28 (Rated G)
“Zombie Prom” — Dec. 28-29 (Rated PG)