September is here, and that means that the 2017-18 seasons at Centre Stage, Greenville Little Theatre, South Carolina Children’s Theatre, and The Warehouse Theatre are about to get underway.
As usual, there’ll be comedies, contemporary classics, and children’s book adaptations, with a little Shakespeare, Agatha Christie, and rock ‘n’ roll thrown in for crowd-pleasing good measure.
This list includes plays that I would attend if I could go to only two productions at each theater. Your “season” may differ from mine, but that’s the beauty of theater. Here’s the list of shows that I’ll be posting to my refrigerator.
“Clybourne Park,” The Warehouse Theatre, Sept. 22–Oct. 8
This is Mike Sablone’s first full season at the artistic helm of The Warehouse Theatre, and this is the first play in the season. Sablone came to Greenville from Los Angeles, where he was a production and development director for actor John Krasinski’s Sunday Night Productions. Sablone worked on two Hollywood films — the 2012 release “Promised Land,” which Krasinski co-wrote with Matt Damon, and 2016’s “The Hollars.”
But Sablone, who also spent a good bit of time in New York, got his start in regional theater.
“Clybourne Park” is a Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning play that looks at the sale of a house 50 years apart. When the house was sold at a bargain price in 1959, it brought the first black family into the neighborhood. In 2009, a young white couple that wants to raze the house and start again buys it, raising the disapproval of black residents of the soon-to-be-gentrified area. Sablone said he chose the play because it is applicable to Greenville right now.
“Santa Claus: A New Musical,” S.C. Children’s Theatre, Dec. 1–10
Let’s face it, Christmas ‘tis not the season for originality. Yes, “A Christmas Carol,” “A Christmas Story,” and “It’s a Wonderful Life” are classics, but sometimes you just want to shake it up a little. It’s kind of like going to a familiar restaurant and ordering something other than your go-to meal.
When it comes to theatrical Christmas fare, you can’t get much newer than “Santa Claus: A New Musical,” which has previously been performed only at one theater in Texas.
In the musical, Santa has announced his decision to retire, and the search is on for someone who can handle the difficult task of delivering toys to children all over the world. Santa returns from his toy run with his potential replacement, Nick, a web designer, and Nick’s daughter, Bee. But not everybody is thrilled with Santa’s choice, especially Henchy, the head elf, who has visions of becoming the new Santa himself.
“Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Christmas Goose,” Greenville Little Theatre, Dec. 7–17
This selection is another “something new at Christmastime production,” but it has some familiar characters, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.
Based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s story, “The Blue Carbuncle,” this family-friendly show takes the audience along as Homes unravels the mystery of a man who lost his hat and a goose in a late-night scuffle. The intrigue increases once Holmes discovers that the goose had a large blue carbuncle jewel belonging to the Countess of Morcar in its throat.
The Greenville Little Theatre is known for its mysteries, and “The Christmas Goose” is the second one on the docket; Agatha Christie’s “Mousetrap” kicks off the season.
“Mamma Mia!,” Centre Stage, March 15–April 7, 2018
Centre Stage’s executive director Glenda ManWaring was thrilled to secure the rights to “Mamma Mia!,” a pop musical featuring the signature songs of ABBA.
“Mamma Mia!” tells the story of bride-to-be Sophie Sheridan, who learns through reading her mother’s diary that three men could possibly be her father. She invites all three to her wedding, assuming that she will know which one is her father when she meets him and can ask him to walk her down the aisle.
“Mamma Mia!” is also the eighth-longest running musical on Broadway.
“Perfect Wedding,” Greenville Little Theatre, April 13–19, 2018
Who doesn’t love a riotous comedy? I do. And so does GLT.
In this drawing room-esque farce, a bridegroom wakes up on his wedding day in his hotel room with a strange girl in the bed beside him. In his bachelor party-induced hangover haze, he doesn’t remember who she is or even being introduced to her. Of course, before he can get the woman dressed and out the door, his bride-to-be arrives.
Let the fun begin.
“Madagascar: A Musical Adventure,” South Carolina Children’s Theatre, June 16–24, 2018
It’s “Madagascar.” Enough said.
“Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson,” The Warehouse Theatre, June 8-June 30, 2018
Sablone helped develop this musical from first draft until it got to Broadway in 2010. He said it’s a show about how we choose our leaders and how difficult it is for our leaders to lead. Seems timely.
This rock musical starts off as a broad satire of America’s seventh president and tells the story of how democracy works. Reminds me of another show that was pretty popular on Broadway and is heading to Greenville as part of the Peace Center’s 2018-19 Broadway show.
“The Tin Woman,” Centre Stage, June 19–30, 2018
ManWaring said she reads scores of scripts throughout the year, and this play, based on a true story, had her wanting to read the next page to find out what was going to happen.
“The Tin Woman” is about a recent heart transplant patient named Joy, but instead of enjoying her new lease on life, she enters a downward spiral, unsure of whether she truly deserves a second chance. At the urging of a friend, Joy tracks down the family of her donor, Jack. But are Jack’s parents and sister ready to accept his death? The play explores loss, family, and what it means to be given new life.