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WATERLOO – The Waterloo Community Playhouse wraps up its 100th anniversary season in March with the risqué comedy, “The Full Monty.”

A year-long celebration featuring 10 decades of theater fare is a hard act to follow. But the WCP undaunted and preparing their 2018-2019 season as a gift to patrons, a “thank-you” in the form of some of the most popular shows on stage.

“With this season, we’re trying to give back to the community and appeal to what people want to see when they attend theater. It’s meant to be a season that is fun and engaging,” says Norman Ussery, executive director.

Artistic Director Greg Holt is excited about the upcoming season. “We’ve got some big-show musicals that will interest a lot of people and two lesser-known shows that are newer and vibrant. We’re doing five shows instead of six so we can present a studio series of edgier shows,” he explains.

Traditionally, WCP opens their new season with a summer musical – and this summer is no exception. “Grease” will be on the boards from July 13-22. The 1950’s tribute to teen angst and young love will feature Danny, Sandy, the Pink Ladies and greasers from Rydell High. Popular songs will include “Summer Nights,” “You’re the One That I Want,” “Beauty School Drop-out” and “Greased Lightnin’.”

The beloved “Annie” comes to Hope Martin Theatre, Dec. 7-16, as the annual Christmas show. “‘Annie’ is a story of redemption on so many levels, and the finale is the Christmas hook – we’re getting ‘A New Deal for Christmas,’” he says, “and we have the talent in this community to pull it off.”

2019 will begin on a serious note with “Marjorie Prime,” Jan. 18-27, in the studio space at the Walker Building. In this new play about the future, artificial intelligence is the norm, allowing an 85-year-old woman to resurrect her deceased husband with a hologram. The Prime is programmed to represent her husband at the age they met and fulfill the need for companionship while keeping memories of alive.

The jukebox musical “Ring of Fire” invokes the spirit and quasi-biography of Johnny Cash through his songbook, including “I Walk the Line,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “The Man in Black” and “Ring of Fire.” It runs March 22-31 and is described as an intimate story about “struggle, disillusionment, faith and redemption” told through 38 songs.

Ussery says “Grease,” “Annie” and “Ring of Fire” are the three anchors for the season. “Each show is popular and hits different segments of community. ‘Grease’ is not for little kids because there are adult themes, ‘Annie’ appeals to children and adults and ‘Ring of Fire’ is a little rowdy. That show should be a great attraction for people who don’t normally go to the theater but love vintage country music.”

Rounding out the season is “The Understudy,” May 24-June 2 about a stage manager who is charged with training a new understudy to play Kafka, a role being played by an action star with modest ability but who can put audiences in the seats and needs stage cred. When he takes a break, the understudy – who is a credible actor – must resist the temptation to improve the role. A sore spot is that the new actor is the stage manager’s ex boyfriend.

The studio series also will “Santa Land Diaries” about a man who works at Macy’s an elf during the holiday season, along with “Night of the Living Dead” that will give audience members a chance to become zombies for the show. “It’s a very interactive, audience participatory, tongue-in-cheek telling of the movie,” Holt says.

The Black Hawk Children’s Theatre season opens with quirky “The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales,” Sept. 21-29. It’s the story of Jack the Narrator and his off-beat friends who fracture fairy tales. Jack tries to save himself from the Giant, but his friends – Little Red Hen, the Stinky Cheese Man and others — keep getting in his way.

“I always want to do a mix of classic and newer shows, and one of the ways we’re consistent each season is doing a fairy tale. This one is has a twist on fairy tales and is very kid friendly, then we go back to our roots with a few other shows,” explains BHCT Artistic Director Anita Ross.

From Nov. 9 to 17, “The Giver” is a stage adaptation of Lois Lowry’s Newbery Award-winning book about a utopia where each person is assigned a role in society and a young boy is chosen for special training as the Receiver of Memories.

The unlikely friendship of a spider and a pig is explored in “Charlotte’s Web,” which runs Feb. 15-23. Charlotte, the spider, must find a way to save her friend Wilbur from the butcher in this classic tale of friendship, bravery and selfless love.

The BHCT season closes with a favorite character from the incomparable and popular Junie B. Jones books by Barbara Park in the hilarious tale, “Junie B. Jones Is Not a Crook.” The show is from April 26-May 4.

In June, “Shakespeare in the Park” will take place at the Cedar Valley Arboretum June 20-24. Plans are to present “King Lear,” one of Shakespeare’s plays with a strong family dynamic.

“This is our fifth Shakespeare, and our program has grown so much. ‘Lear’ is a heavy hitter and no small feat to play.

“The play will be free for the public because we’re trying to get more teenagers to take a look and to make Shakespeare more accessible. He wrote his plays to be performed, not sit on a shelf,” Ussery added.

Plans are being made to perform “King Lear” at Jubilee Methodist Church, as well.

“The play will be free for the public because we’re trying to get more teenagers to take a look and to make Shakespeare more accessible. He wrote his plays to be performed, not sit on a shelf,” Ussery added.


Arts/Special Sections Editor

Special Sections Editor for the Courier

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