It starts with a sentimental tale of Southern sisterhood, then moves into classic and classy musicals by Irving Berlin, the Gershwin brothers and Rodgers and Hammerstein.
It ends with a play about a dead man who believes he's Tammy Wynette and musicals about con men and urine.
Players Theatre has just announced its 2013-14 season, and it's an assortment of crowd-pleasing standards and edgy works that have loyal followings.
The Players' 84th season kicks off Sept. 18 with "Steel Magnolias," Robert Harling's play (which he later adapted into the massively popular movie) based on his experience with the death of his younger sister. It runs through Sept. 29.
October brings "Crazy for You." The Tony-winning early-'90s musical is based on the Gershwin's "Girl Crazy," which premiered more than 60 years earlier, and adds songs from other Gershwin musicals. Its classic tunes include "Someone to Watch Over Me," "I Got Rhythm" and "Bidin' My Time." It runs Oct. 23-Nov. 3.
The holiday show is Berlin's "White Christmas," (Dec. 4-15) a stage adaptation of the classic film. Besides the title song, the show features "Blue Skies" and "I Love a Piano."
The first show of the new year will be "Carousel," arguably the finest Rodgers and Hammerstein musical (Jan. 8-19). The classic adaptation of a 1909 Fernc Molnar drama is highlighted by the gorgeous "If I Loved You" and the soaring "You'll Never Walk Alone."
The season takes an edgier turn with the next show, "Sordid Lives," which is set for Feb. 12-23. Del Shores wrote this 1996 comedy about a family dealing with the accidental death of its matriarch, who was having an affair in a seedy motel. That scandal opens the closet door and reveals other family skeletons.
Shores, who's best known as a television writer, adapted the play into a 2000 movie that has a cult following, and later into a short-lived TV series that starred Bonnie Bedelia and Olivia-Newton John. By most accounts, the play is much funnier than the movie and the series.
"Dirty Rotten Scoundrels," which runs March 19-30, began life as the 1964 movie "Bedtime Stories," with Marlon Brando and David Niven, then became the 1988 film "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels" with Steve Martin and Michael Caine. The musical by David Yazbek and Jeffrey Lane hit Broadway in 2005. It doesn't have a lot of familiar songs, but its rollicking story about a couple of bickering con men has made it a hit around the country in touring productions.
The season ends with "Urinetown," a dystopian comedy about a future in which water shortages cause bathroom use to be heavily regulated. The purposely distasteful title and subject will probably keep some people away, but it's a hilarious romp of a show that lampoons everything from politics to musical theater. It runs April 16-27.
Tickets run $25 for general seating and $30 for seats in the first five rows. A subscription for all seven shows is $122.50 per person. A "Silver Flexpass Subscription" offers seven tickets to be used in any combination for $140.
The best bargain may be the "Wednesday Preview Series," that allows patrons to see all seven shows, a night before the general public, for just $98.
For more information call 941-365-2494 or go to www.theplayers.org.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-748-0411, ext. 7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.