A classic family musical based on a beloved book returns and a recent Broadway hit that celebrates the anthemic rock and roll of the 1980s will debut next season at Civic Theatre in Allentown.
Civic artistic director Williams Sanders revealed the community theater's 2017-2018 season Monday.
Civic's fall musical is "The Secret Garden" the Tony Award-winning show based on Frances Hodgson Burnett's classic book. Civic last presented "The Secret Garden" in 1994. The show has had a resurgence in recent years with an award-winning production production at the Arden Theater in Philadelphia and a concert presentation of the show at New York's Lincoln Center last year.
"The Secret Garden" features a book by Marsha Norman and a soaring musical score by Grammy-winner Lucy Simon, who is the older sister of singer Carly Simon. Both were nominated for a Tony for their work on the show when it premiered on Broadway in 1991. The show was nominated for seven Tony awards and won three.
The story is set in the early 20th century, when 10-year-old Mary Lennox is orphaned by a cholera outbreak in India and sent to live with her troubled uncle in his gloomy home in Yorkshire, where she brings new life to a neglected garden as well as the inhabitants of the house.
For the holidays, Civic will present "A Christmas Carol" for the 28th year. The production of Charles Dickens' familiar ale of redemption has become an annual tradition at Civic featuring more than 100 actors, including many children. The script which has been used for all of the productions originally was adapted by Sanders and Civic board member Sharon Lee Glassman from Dickens' novella, not straying far from the author's own words. The production also features familiar Christmas carols and a candle-lit tableau at the end featuring the entire cast singing "Angels We Have Heard on High."
Civic's winter show will be the Lehigh Valley community theater premiere of the "jukebox" musical "Rock of Ages." "Rock of Ages" originally opened in 2009 on Broadway, where it surprised critics by earning five Tony nominations, including one for former "American Idol" finalist Constantine Maroulis. The show became a hit and went on to tour worldwide.
The story is about a guy who wants to be a rock star, a girl who wants to be an actress, and a struggling rock club on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles circa 1987. But the real star of the show is the 1980s era music which includes classic hits from bands like REO Speedwagon, Styx, Journey, Bon Jovi, Poison, Foreigner and Pat Benatar. Songs include “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” "Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” “Here I Go Again,” “Harden my Heart,” “Heat of the Moment,” and the 1980s rock anthem "Don't Stop Believing.'"
"Prelude to a Kiss," a romantic play with a magical element at its heart will finish Civic's season in the spring of 2018. The play was written in 1988 by Craig Lucas, who was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for his work.
The show opened on Broadway in 1990 and was nominated for two Tony awards, including for best play. A 1992 film adaptation starred Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan.
In the story, a young couple get married and after the wedding, a mysterious man kisses the bride causing their souls to switch places. When the groom realizes what has happened, he finds his love tested as searches for the man in whose body his wife's soul is trapped.
The 2018 Civic Theatre School production will be "Shrek the Musical Jr." based on the Oscar-winning animated film. The musical, a shorter version of the original Broadway musical that is designed for younger performers will be presented by the theater school students.
For more information call Civic at 610-432-8943 or go to www.civictheatre.com.