NEIL SHURLEY | CONTRIBUTOR
Centre Stage says its 2018-2019 lineup of plays is “a season for you.” Literally.
“I asked our marketing department to get real input from our audiences so that we could put on the shows that they want to see,” explains Centre Stage executive artistic director Glenda ManWaring. “With so much wonderful theater going on in Greenville, I feel that it’s really important to program for our patrons. So we sent out questionnaires to our patrons and based our season on the responses.”
The result is a season that includes classic musicals, dramas, and comedies, along with a brand-new variety show and, of course, its trademark rock ‘n’ roll revues.
Here’s a look at the Mainstage Series.
Based on the ups and downs of such acts as The Supremes and The Shirelles, this big, booming, Tony award-winning musical features powerhouse songs like “I Am Changing” and “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”
“I’m extremely excited about Dreamgirls,” ManWaring says. She says she’s long wanted to stage the show and praises its focus on breaking down racial barriers. “It is so relevant right now. It’s a magnificent piece, and it hasn’t been done in our area in a long time.”
“ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST”
Best known as the film that launched Jack Nicholson’s career into the stratosphere, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” revolves around a mental patient named McMurphy as he encourages his fellow misfits to break the iron will of the tyrannical Nurse Ratched.
“We’ve had a number of patrons over the past five years who’ve asked us, ‘When are you going to do ‘Cuckoo’s Nest’?’ And we just really thought that now was the time,” ManWaring says. “It has the whole gamut of emotion in there. You have the comedy, the drama, the shock value, the questioning, and the really thinking about what’s at stake. It’s not a frivolous piece. It’s tried and true and so very well written.”
“LAUGHING ALL THE WAY: An Original Variety Show”
“It is going to be a full-blown variety show,” ManWaring says. “All kinds of acts, all kinds of fun, and, of course, it’s a Christmas theme. We’ve noticed that there’s just a ton of talent in the area, and sometimes we don’t get to see that talent because it doesn’t fit into that particular script, so this way we get to open it up. Some of my fondest memories are seeing those kinds of things at Christmas, where it was a family that came up with their instruments and did this fabulous piece, or a comedy routine or a juggling act or a magic act. Or just anything! And that’s what we want. We want it fun and we want it family friendly.”
Jan. 17-Feb. 9, 2019
The new year kicks off with the annual rock show, this one featuring songs from the golden age of the ’50s and ’60s, when pompadours were high, beehives were higher, and “The Twist” was all the rage.
“We haven’t done a ’50s/’60s montage in quite a while, and our patrons have been asking for it and that’s what we’re going to focus on. It should be a lot of fun,” ManWaring says.
“INTO THE WOODS”
March 14-April 6, 2019
Stephen Sondheim’s beloved Tony award-winning blockbuster features everyone’s favorite fairy-tale characters, but with a modern twist. A movie version, starring Meryl Streep, was released in 2014.
“The survey was overwhelming in wanting to see ‘Into the Woods,’ and we were shocked,” ManWaring says. “I think the movie opened up a wider variety of patrons to see that it’s a cool, fun story. And we’re going to be doing some unique things with this show, incorporating the woods into our entire space.”
May 9-25, 2019
This show is one of the world’s most beloved backstage farces, complete with slamming doors, falling trousers, and flying sardines.
“It is a classic, and it’s one of the funniest plays I’ve ever seen. Farces are always fun, and people can come for just pure entertainment, for laughs,” ManWaring says. “It’s a show that’s perfect for our stage and one that I’ve always wanted to be a part of in some capacity. And people love to come back and see this one over and over again.”
“DRIVING MISS DAISY”
June 13-30, 2019
This Pulitzer Prize-winning play, set during the civil rights movement, explores the way friendship can transcend prejudice and social conventions.
“When we looked at this season, we wanted to have a Southern play, and people keep asking about ‘Driving Miss Daisy,’” ManWaring says. “It’s a good time for us to bring it back, and our audience really wanted to see it again. It’s so beautifully written and still so poignant today. It’s a wonderful piece that is very clear and very distinct, and you can’t leave the theater without thinking.”
July 25-Aug. 17, 2019
Another original musical revue, this time featuring a classic blend of country and rock ‘n’ roll.
“With the overwhelming success of Million Dollar Quartet, our audiences have continually begged us to bring them back. Our patrons have just loved that style of music – Elvis, Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline – and we thought, why not, we’ll put together a rockabilly show! It’ll be a blast.”
Alongside the mainstage shows, Centre Stage also offers a Fringe Series of smaller issue-oriented plays. Each Fringe production will be offered in partnership with a local nonprofit. The five Fringe shows deal with mental health, health-care access, substance abuse, and socioeconomics.
Nov. 6, 7, 13, 14
Jan. 22, 23, 29, 30; Feb. 5, 6, 2019
March 26, 27; April 2, 3, 2019
Winner of Centre Stage’s 2017 New Play Festival
“TIGERS BE STILL”
May 14, 15, 21, 22, 2019
June 18, 19, 25, 26, 2019
To order season tickets, call the Centre Stage box office at 864-233-6733 or visit centrestage.org.