The Manatee Players, Bradenton’s iconic community theater, will stage 15 musicals and plays in 2017-18 — and 14 of them have never been performed at either the old Manatee Players Riverfront Theater or the new Manatee Performing Arts Center, Rick Kerby, the Players producing artistic director, announced Monday.
The only show that has been on a Players’ stage before is one that Kerby could not announce along with the rest of the 2017-18 show slate, which he revealed before a VIP audience on the second floor of the Center.
“We can’t tell you what this one is because there is a tour going through the area, so they put a restriction on us, but we hope we can tell you tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow,” Kerby said, singing the last three words in a tune that got the crowd to laugh and applaud.
That mystery show would run Nov. 30 through Dec. 18.
‘The Producers’ gets the season started
The Players’ “Broadway Series” in Stone Hall kicks off with one of those tried-and-true fan favorites — “The Producers” by Mel Brooks Aug. 10-27.
“It’s gigantic,” Kerby said. “If you like tap dancing, show girls and lots of fun comedy, there you go.”
The classic Jerry Herman musical “Mame,” with Angela Lansbury in the title role on Broadway in 1966, follows Sept. 14 through Oct. 1.
“Can you believe we have never done ‘Mame’ at the Players ever?” Kerby said.
Then, “A Little Night Music,” featuring music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, Oct. 26 through Nov. 12.
“We love Sondheim here, so we are continuing that tradition,” Kerby said. “I have to tell you, I hope to do the entire Sondheim cycle.”
The crowd applauded.
“We try every year to find a balance of shows,” Kerby said. “We want to keep our patrons excited. We want to keep those who are pretty traditional involved, and at the same time, we want to challenge ourselves every year. I think we have done a good job of that lately.”
“We also want to get the actors excited,” Kerby added. “We have such talented people here.”
“Nine,” which is a musical about a film director and the many women in his life, is on tap Jan. 11-28.
“We’ve never done ‘Nine’ here and it’s a great showcase for female talent,” Kerby said.
“Hunchback of Notre Dame” follows Feb. 15 through March 4.
“We are the first in the area to do ‘Hunchback of Notre Dame’,” Kerby said. “This is based on the Disney movie. We actually really had to fight to get this one. I had to pry it out of a professional theater’s hands.”
The sweetly nostalgic “Little Women” is set for March 22 through April 8.
George and Ira Gershwin, or at least their spirits, will be in the Players when their musical, “Nice Work If You Can Get It,” rounds out the Broadway Series, April 26 through May 13.
“Lots of big, splashy, showgirl tap dancing and it’s Gershwin — and who doesn’t love that,” Kerby said.
“The Father,” a show about a daughter and her father who gets dementia, opens the “Studio Series: Action through Acting” season Aug. 24-Sept. 10.
“Anna in the Tropics,” based in a cigar factory in Ybor City, follows Oct. 12-29 and next is the classic “Flowers For Algernon” about a young man with learning disabilities who suddenly becomes super intelligent, runs Nov. 30 through Dec. 17.
The topical “Driving Miss Daisy” is set for Jan. 25 to Feb. 11.
“Baby,” which is about three different couples in various ages who are each having a baby, runs March 1-18.
The Studio Series wraps up with “Good,” a story of a man involved in the Nazi movement who never intended for that to happen. It runs April 5-22.
Single tickets go on sale July 3 for the new season. Box office: 941-748-5875.