Lewisville — While most community theaters stick to seasons of family-friendly and easy to digest plays and musicals, regardless of how frequently those titles are produced at myriad other nearby community theaters, a few mostly volunteer theaters in North Texas have been stepping outside of that box in recent seasons. Among them are Onstage in Bedford, Runway Theatre in Grapevine, and the long-running Greater Lewisville Community Theatre (GLCT).
Next season, the group has plays by Martin McDonagh and David Mamet in the mix, and that’s not all. Chris Robinson, who has directed several musicals at GLCT over the years, has been named artistic director. It’s the first time they’ve had someone in that position for several years. It is an unpaid position, but his first change is to pay actors. It will be a small stipend, he says, but it’s something. While directors, designers, choreographers and musicians (GLCT has been staging musicals with live musicians for years) have been paid stipends, actors have gone without.
“Paying actors has always been the goal,” says Robinson, “so I can’t take credit for massive changes, because the thing that attracted me to the theater is that the group who founded it really love theater. We’ve always been challenging community theater audiences.”
Robinson says that other changes for 2016-17 include a new online ticketing system, and patrons will be able to pay by credit card for the first time in the group’s three decade-plus history. (Previously it was cash or check only.)
“In two or three years, I want to be able to develop a theater where people want to come and work, I want them to look forward to auditions, I would love to get anyone who wants to direct or design,” he says. “We consider ourselves a training venue. We take people who want to learn something and can work alongside someone who’s been doing it for years and hone their craft.”
GLCT’s 2016-17 season is below. For subscription and ticket information, visit www.glct.org.
Saturday Night Fever: This musical adaptation of the ’70s classic film is the story of a talented, streetwise kid from Brooklyn who attempts to escape his dead-end life through dancing. The score to Saturday Night Fever includes many disco-era hits by the Bee Gees. Directed by Chris Robinson, Saturday Night Fever runs September 9 – October 2, 2016.
The Last Night of Ballyhoo: This 1997 Tony Award winning comedy/drama takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, in December of 1939. Gone with the Wind is having its world premiere, and Hitler is invading Poland, but Atlanta’s elitist German Jews are much more concerned with who is going to Ballyhoo, the social event of the season. Directed by Harry Friedman, The Last Night of Ballyhoo runs December 2 – 18, 2016.
The Beauty Queen of Leenane: Set in the mountains of Connemara, Ireland, this is a darkly comic tale of Maureen Folan, a plain and lonely woman, and Mag, her manipulative aging mother, whose interference in Maureen’s first and possibly final chance of a loving relationship sets in motion a train of events that leads inexorably toward the play’s terrifying end. (Co-winner of the 1998 Lucille Lortel Award for outstanding play.) Directed by Kenny Green, The Beauty Queen of Leenane runs February 3 – 19, 2017.
Chickens: In this delightful musical comedy, Pal escapes from his woes of bankruptcy and immerses himself in the world of raising exotic chickens while his wife, Liza, tries to keep the family farm afloat. Meanwhile, in the chicken coop, two roosters and two hens parallel the couple’s life and get down and dirty with the pressures of egg fertilization, the country poultry fair and the question of flying. Directed by LisaAnne Haram, Chickens runs May 12 – 28, 2017.
Memphis: From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, comes the Tony Award winning musical that bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. Directed by Larry Borero, Memphis runs from June 30 – July 23, 2017.
Special Engagement - November: It’s November in the presidential election year, and incumbent Charles Smith’s chances for reelection are looking grim. Approval ratings are down, his money’s running out, and nuclear war might be imminent. Though his staff has thrown in the towel and his wife has begun to prepare for her post-White House life, Chuck isn’t ready to give up just yet. With Mamet’s characteristic no-holds-barred style, November is a scathingly hilarious take on the state of America today and the lengths to which people will go to win. Directed by Ben Phillips. Rated R for language. This production is recommended for adults only. *Not part of season ticket packages. November runs October 21 – November 6, 2016.
Special Engagement - Musician’s Benefit: As winter turns to spring in North Texas, GLCT presents their second fundraiser of the season. Be sure to join us for this well-known powerhouse musical that exploded onto the scene in 1971, changing the world of musical theater forever. Due to contractual obligations, we aren't at liberty to announce the title of the show until September, but with a score of amazing songs, this energetic and colorful rock opera is as relevant and timeless as ever. *Not part of season ticket packages. March 24 - April 9, 2017.