by Janet I. Martineau
Patsy Cline, Steve Martin and memories of 9/11 all play a role in the 2011-2012 seasons announced by Pit and Balcony Community Theatre in Saginaw, Center Stage at the Midland Center for the Arts, and the Bay City Players.
Collectively the seasons have booked oldies and goodies like “Annie” and “All My Sons,” but more so than usual this coming season are unfamiliar and/or new works -- always a chancy thing to book but much appreciated by theater buffs. So stay tuned for titles like “The Great American Trailer Park Musical,” “On the Verge” and “A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody.”
The seasons are as follows:
Pit and Balcony Community Theatre
- Sept. 10, “The Guys.” In honor of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks In New York City and Washington, D.C., Pit presents a single performance of a play which finds an editor helping a Fire Department of New York captain prepare eulogies for the firefighters who died under his command that day.
- Sept. 30, Oct. 1-2, 7-9, “The Great American Trailer Park Musical.” Country, rock and blues combine to tell the story of a long-married 1980s Florida couple struggling with her agoraphobia, his roving eye when a hot young stripper moves into their trailer park, and a trio of dysfunctional Greek-chorus residents. Among its songs: “Road Kill,” “Flushed Down the Pipes” and “This Side of the Tracks.”
- Dec. 2-4, 9-11, “The Christmas Express.” When a stranger named Leo Tannenbaum appears out of nowhere at a small-town railway station the day before Christmas eve, suddenly an old radio that hasn’t worked for years springs into life, the local group of dreadful carolers starts to sound like the Mormon Tabernacle, and the whole grumpy town gets into the Christmas spirit. Coincidence? Or something else?
- Jan, 27-29, Feb. 3-5, “The Underpants.” Steve Martin penned this adaptation of the 1910 German farce/social commentary satire “Die Hose” by playwright Carl Sternheim. In it a bureaucrat’s pretty young wife attends the king’s parade during which her bloomers slip to her ankles, setting off a scandal.
- March 11-13, 18-20, “Over the Tavern.” Set in Buffalo during the Eisenhower years of the 1950s, a family living in a crowded apartment over the father’s tavern copes with the joys and travails of life -- in particular a 12-year-old son who is starting to question family values and the Catholic church.
- May 11-13, 18-20, 2012, “Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.” A revenge-seeking Victorian-era barber uses his razor to dispatch his clients, who are soon baked into best-selling meat pies by his female accomplice, in this Stephen Sondheim musical based on an urban legend.
For season ticket information, visit pitandbalconytheatre.com
Center Stage, Midland
- Oct. 22-23, 28-30, “Annie.” Little Orphan Annie and her dog Sandy return in the 1977 Tony-winning, Depression-era musical about a hard-knock life lived by an optimistic 11-year-old girl who always believes in a better tomorrow. Bill Anderson Jr. directs.
- Jan. 13-15, 20-21, “On the Verge.” In a decidedly offbeat comedy, three 1888 women set off for the unexplored land of Terra Incognita, only to discover they are adrift in time and are trying to navigate an uncharted territory populated by future pop culture, esoteric language and unusual characters. Jeanne Gilbert directs.
- Feb. 11-12, 17-19, “Treasure Island.” Based on the book by Robert Louis Stevenson, 14-year-old Jim Hawkins and the pirate Long John Silver tell the tale of piracy in the tropical seas. Carol Rumba directs.
- March 9-11, 16-18, “Always....Patsy Cline.” In 1961, an avid Patsy Cline fan met the singer at a Houston honky-tonk, invited her to spend the night at her place, and the two became pals until Cline’s death in 1963. This musical is based on the letters and phone calls between them and, in the process, features upwards of 25 of Cline’s classic songs. Susie Polito directs.
- April 13-15, “The Laramie Project.” Through a collage of interviews collected from the residents of Laramie, Wyoming, this true docu-drama explores the aftermath of the brutal murder of gay university student Matthew Shepard. Keeley Stanley-Bohn directs.
- May 4-6, 10-12, 2012, “Barefoot in the Park.” Penned by Neil Simon, two newlyweds (one free-spirited and the other straight-laced) discover their dream home is a six-floor walk-up with a leaky skylight, bad plumbing and an eccentric neighbor.
For season ticket information, visit mcfta.org
Bay City Players
- Sept. 22-25, 29-30. Oct. 1-2, “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.” Six precocious kids endure the finals of a spelling bee conducted by some weirdo adults in a Tony-winning musical that by tradition also adds members of the audience to the contest.
- Nov. 11-13, 17-20, “A Little Murder Never Hurt Anybody.” Written by Michigan playwright Ron Bernas, the farce finds Matthew deciding he must kill off Julia before the end of the year. The problem is she knows it and it is their friends who hit the dust while she survives. Just who is behind these dastardly deeds?
- Jan. 13-15, 19-22, 2012, “Almost Maine.” Played out in vignettes and set on a cold winter night in Maine, residents of a tiny town find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected and often hilarious ways. The show won the best play award from the New York Drama Critics Circle.
- March 2-4, 8-11, “All My Sons.” The Tony-winning play by Arthur Miller, based on a true story, is set just after World War II as an American family grapples with a son missing in action and a father who sold faulty parts to the U.S. military during the war; parts which resulted in the deaths of 21 pilots.
- May 3-6, 10-13, 2011, “The Drowsy Chaperone.” The musical centers around a man in the chair who puts on a recording of his favorite musical to lift his spirits. What he doesn't expect is chorus girls dancing out of his refrigerator, scoundrels making plans to seduce a bride on her wedding day, the groom roller-skating and gangsters playing caterers — all done in song and dance. The show is a Tony winner for best book and best score.
- Date not yet set, “Portraits.” Planned as a fund-raiser for a local charity, and to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., “Portraits” is a series of monologues by people talking about their feelings connected to that day and how it affected their lives.
For season ticket information, visit baycityplayers.com.