Festival Time!

Summer theatre festival time, that is. In this final post in my mini-series about summer theatre offerings around Canada and the United States, we’re going to look at some festivals — both well known and lesser known. Some of these festivals have resident troupes of actors, as well as attracting some of the finest actors in the world — while others feature an eclectic variety of performers. Some festivals focus on theatre classics, augmented with newer plays that are well known; some give opportunities to new playwrights and avant-garde productions, while others have a particular cultural focus. There is something for everyone in the summer theatre festivals in the U.S. and Canada. For just a taste of what’s available, click the magic “read more” box…

‘Tis the Season — for Summer Theatre

You’ve spent the day at the beach, you’ve had a wonderful time, but you’re not ready yet to go back to the hotel or the campsite (or home). How about going down the street to the theatre? Although most theatre companies wind down their season in May or perhaps June, some theatres are just revving up for their main season. Some theatres are mainly, or even exclusively, summer theatres with offerings that span the summer months, often lighter fare that will delight, amuse, and send the audience out smiling. Unlike last week, when we were under the stars, or out in a sunny park, the productions we’ll be looking at today are indoors, in a variety of venues across the United States and Canada. Although my space is limited here, and I can only feature a few, perhaps there’s something similar where you are! Get your ticket ready for the summer stage experience —

This Day in the Arts — January 2 in Theatre History

We’re visiting the theatre again today for our trip into the history of the arts. On January 2, 1983, the musical Annie closed on Broadway after an amazing 2,377 performances (it opened on April 21, 1977). Over those years, there were many cast changes and the play moved to a different theatre 3 times after opening in the Alvin Theatre (now the Neil Simon Theatre). It also played the ANTA Playhouse (now the August Wilson Theatre), the Eugene O’Neill Theatre, and the Uris Theatre (now the Gershwin Theatre). It won numerous awards, including seven Tonys. Because Annie became a hit movie musical, many people who would never have had the chance to see it on Broadway are familiar with the show, and particularly with the iconic song, “Tomorrow.” Today, instead of talking about the final performance of that first run, although that’s what brought us here, I’d like to tell you a bit about the musical’s beginnings.

Setting the Stage

What do you see in the picture to the left? A rainbow? A bar graph? I see a night-time cityscape, a stage set ready for a big production number, perhaps from the Alan Lund production of Singin’ and Dancin’ Tonight, a musical revue. I grew up on a farm 85 miles from the nearest city. Seeing professional stage productions wasn’t an option, although I certainly attended local productions from an early age (my mother had a lovely singing voice, and was part of local Gilbert & Sullivan productions when I was 3 or 4). Pinning down a date for my first experience of professional theatre has been an interesting exercise (thank goodness for the internet!) — I have finally ascertained that it was in 1970, and I was 13. The city’s professional theatre was in its infancy,  still in the process of perfecting their “theatre in the round” trademark, not yet in a permanent building of their own,  touring the province and staging in-city productions in a small theatre in the newly opened Centre of the Arts. The play was Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie, and I remember the set to this day.

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