Summer is in sight, and Festival Theatre’s summer company of guest artists arrive this week to begin the comprehensive rehearsal process for the four shows in the theatre company’s rotating repertory of classics.
Opening the season on June 19th is the raucous musical comedy, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. This show has one goal, to make audiences laugh. Utilizing classic ideas from burlesque entertainment, this play tips its hat to lots of adult humor, while still keeping things innocent and appropriate for most ages. A favorite since its Broadway debut in 1962, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” won several Tony Awards, including Best Book and Best Musical. Readers may be familiar with the 1966 film adaptation starring the hilarious Zero Mostel. Notable for many reasons, the film marks Buster Keaton's final on-screen performance. Still there is nothing like seeing it come to life on stage before your eyes, so all are reminded to come ready to laugh, to applaud, to guffaw, and to cheer.
And truly, audience members for every production should come ready to embark on a story's adventure. Almost, Maine is a journey of a different style. Often humorous, often tender, this show consists of several short scenes, all set in the same small town in rural Maine. All taking place over the course of one night, we see different characters grappling with human experiences, all on the theme of love. Some are falling into love, some falling out of it. Some are ending a relationship; others don't even realize they are beginning one. This play is a romantic comedy with a slightly surrealist approach allowing the figurative to become tangible. “Almost, Maine” opens July 5th and will be produced in the Elbow Room, the street-level performance space, which will assist in creating an intimate atmosphere, and will feature limited seating. Early reservations are recommended for this memorable play about the rise and fall of our hearts, and the human stories that are created from sharing love.
Popping back upstairs to the main stage for the rest of the summer repertory, Aristophanes’ The Frogs is the fourth annual Festival Theatre Conservatory for Young Performers (FTCYP) production, opening July 19th. Featuring a cast of roughly half youth actors and half adult professionals, "The Frogs" is an ancient but hilarious play. It centers on the Greek god Dionysus as he journeys to the underworld to bring back to the land of the living the best playwright, Euripides, who has recently died. Along the way he encounters many obstacles and humorous characters as he battles his own fear, vanity, self-importance, and a few outside intrusions. Although the play is centuries old, the humor and the values that it reflects are timeless. From slapstick style humor to thoughtful examination of what makes good art, this play is perfect for audiences of all ages. With the goals of introducing young audiences to classical work, this Conservatory production will delight, entertain, astonish and even surprise audiences! Festival’s Arts Education Action Group has been working to develop "The Frogs" Theatre Resource Guide, a tool for school groups or families to use, which will be available on the website. Prior to bringing your child or grandchild to the show, read through the activities together. It will help to deepen their understanding of the show, and it might even let you in on some interesting factoids.
The final repertory selection of the summer is the mysterious playground of a show, The 39 Steps, opening August 9th. This show is theatre candy! Four actors take on a hundred roles in this face-paced mystery comedy. An adaptation of the 1935 Hitchcock film (which was based on the 1915 book by John Buchan), this spy thriller is taken apart and put back together in the almost Monty Python-like style. One actor will play the lonely Richard Hannay, one actor will play the beautiful and mysterious women he encounters, and the other two actors will play everyone else in the show. A whirlwind of dramatic action, "The 39 Steps" moves from a dusty apartment to train stations to high-brow parties to police stations and back again in seamless transition. The show will take advantage of every creative impulse the director, actors and designers put into this play, and will be an experience that audiences remember as a true act of theatre magic. Come and see how the mystery unfolds, but come ready to have a blast, because theatre artists having this much fun is simply bound to be contagious!
See the calendar for show dates and times, and reserve your tickets here!