GLOW Lyric Theatre explores the place authority has in society through three productions running simultaneously during its Summer Festival Season, July 13–30.
The season’s theme, “Question Authority,” was born out of the post-election atmosphere sensed by organizers Christian Elser, executive director, and his wife, Jenna Tamisiea, artistic director.
“We always start from asking questions about what’s going on in our community, in our world, we want to start a conversation about,” Tamisiea says. “We actually had another theme planned for this season, but then the November election happened.”
She says seeing the various protest marches and the overall sense of uprising caused them to want to explore the place authority has in society through some well-known productions.
The season begins with a haunting opera version of “The Crucible,” July 13–28, followed by the hippie rock musical “Hair,” July 14–30, and concluding with the Gilbert and Sullivan political satire operetta “The Gondoliers,” July 21–29.
The three shows will run simultaneously in the Fine Arts Center black box theater, using a skeleton set with interchangeable decorations for each production. For “Hair,” the tiered plank deck set will be decorated with strips of fabric, chains will hang from the beams for “The Crucible,” and columns and nautical items will transform the set for “The Gondoliers.” Props will include modular furniture pieces that will be used for multiple purposes.
Many of GLOW’s 85 guest vocalists, instrumentalists, and technicians from around the U.S. and South Carolina will be participating in all three shows.
Some of the more notable guest performers are mezzo-soprano Melissa Parks, who performed in the Italian premiere of “Sweeney Todd” as well as at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City; tenor Hugo Vera, who has performed with the Metropolitan Opera among dozens of other notable opera companies; bass Ryan Allen, who also performed with the Metropolitan Opera during his distinguished career; baritone Nicholas Hawkins, a Greenville native who received his degree in vocal performance from the University of South Carolina; and Tierney Breedlove, a Furman University graduate from Rock Hill and musical theater and film actress.
Tamisiea says when she and Elser were planning the season, which is the first time they’ve attempted three shows at once, they first thought about “Hair” because of its relevant themes to the current social and political climate: protest culture, the horrors of war and nuclear weapons, the environment, racism, sexism, and the clash of generations.
“They’re all still very relevant,” Tamisiea says. “It’s made accessible through rock ’n’ roll.”
Robert Ward’s operatic adaptation of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” dramatizes the Salem witch-hunt of the 1690s.
“‘Witch-hunt’ is a phrase I hear on the news every night,” Tamisiea says.
To lighten the mood, “The Gondoliers” was added to the lineup.
“We knew we wanted to do Gilbert and Sullivan,” Tamisiea says. “It had the most material we could turn into political farce.”
She says “The Gondoliers” is like the “Saturday Night Live” production of the season.
“It’s very funny and pokes fun at everybody,” she says. “It’s really great to be able to go to the theater and laugh.”
GLOW Lyric Theatre
Summer Festival Season
“The Crucible” (July 13–28)
“Hair” (July 14–30)
“The Gondoliers” (July 21–29)
Fine Arts Center, 102 Pine Knoll Drive
Tickets: 864-558-GLOW or glowlyric.com/tickets