Three musicals about Jesus and a show about a whorehouse are coming to Bradenton.
Something for everyone, said Manatee Players producing artistic director Rick Kerby.
Those shows, and nine others, are part of the Manatee Players 2014-15 season announced Monday. Its the companys second full season at the Manatee Performing Arts Center.
The season includes seven shows in the larger Stone Hall and six in the Bradenton Kiwanis Studio Theater.
The Stone Hall shows, all musicals, are Disneys Tarzan (Aug. 7-24), Dames at Sea (Sept. 11-28), The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Oct. 23-Nov. 9), Meet Me in St. Louis (Dec. 4-21), Brigadoon (Jan. 8-25), Into the Woods (Feb. 12-March 1, 2015) and Jesus Christ Superstar (March 19-April 5, 2015). The studio theater season mixes plays and musicals: Mornings at Seven (Sept. 11-28), Godspell (Oct. 31-Nov. 17), Amahl and the Night Visitors (Dec. 4-21), The Foursome (Jan. 15-Feb. 1, 2015), Agnes of God (Feb. 19-March 8, 2015) and I Love You, Youre Perfect, Now Change (April 9-26, 2015). Most shows are classics, or at least well-known to theatergoers. But a few arent so familiar.
Tarzan is of course based on the 1999 animated film, which features music by Phil Collins. It ran for a little more than a year on Broadway in 2006-07. The same company that created the flying effects for this seasons production of Peter Pan for Manatee Players will be back for this show.
Mornings at Seven is 1939 drama about four aging sisters. Its three Broadway runs have not been hugely successful, but its popular with regional theaters. The Foursome is a Norm Foster comedy about four buddies who play golf.
Kerby said he picked Godspell, the 1970s Stephen Schwartz musical, to balance out Best Little Whorehouse. Theyre running at the same time.
Kerby said he doesnt expect any community objection to Whorehouse, which despite its title, is a light and splashy musical. But by staging Godspell, which is based on the Gospel of St. Matthew, at the same time, hes ensuring the company is offering something for families.
Amahl and the Night Visitors, Kerby said, gives Manatee Players a chance to explore opera.
We certainly have the talent for it, he said. I like the youth orientation of it. It was written as an opera for children. Amahl will be the first opera Manatee Players has done in decades.
Actually, historically, like 60 years ago, operattas were a regular part of our offerings, said Exective Director Janene Witham. Im excited because with our new facility we can offer all the different kinds of musical productions, and non-musical porductions, for our performers and our audiences.
As for Jesus Christ Superstar, Kerby said he chose the Andrew Lloyd-Webber show after speaking with Norman Small, producing director of Theatre Winter Haven. Superstar is one of Smalls favorite shows, so Kerby enlisted him as guest director. I think hell bring a lot of passion to that show, Kerby said.
Another show Kerby is especially excited about is Stephen Sondheims Into the Woods. Im passionate about Sondheim, and weve never done that one before, he said.
The companys first season of presenting shows in two theaters proved to be a big success, Kerby said, and audiences have responded to the more varied offering made possible by the intimate Bradenton Kiwanis Studio Theater.
The people who like plays are asking for more plays, and the people who like the smaller musicals are asking for more smaller musicals, he said. For the first season I kept the technical requirements pretty limited, but I think youll see more technical complexity in the second season. The Manatee Performing Arts Center is at 502 Third Ave. W. in Bradenton. For information about the season or any of the shows, call 941-749-1111 or go to manteeplayers.com.
Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919. Follow twitter.com/martinclear.