Stage West Community Playhouse announced its 2010-11 season in October, so the biggest surprise in the theater's recently mailed brochure wasn't the shows.
It was the ticket price.
The theater has cut the main stage individual adult ticket price by 17 percent. Instead of the $18 adult, $9 student price like this year's shows, next season's tickets will be only $15 adults, $8 students. Season tickets remain at $60 main stage, still a bargain at $12 a show. And the Forum's shows remain $10 apiece or $20 for all three.
The shows are the same as announced, with the addition of production dates. The board is celebrating the theater's 30th anniversary by bringing back favorite shows from the past, with the only new offering being the mental mystery Being of Sound Mind in the Forum.
As in the past, the shows open on Thursday nights and continue for the subsequent three weekends in the main stage and the subsequent two in the Forum.
Sept. 9-26: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, a musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice, based on the biblical story; first presented in September 1997 and brought back in June 1998.
Nov. 4-21: Arsenic and Old Lace, the 1941 black comedy about two homicidal spinster sisters, their nutty brother who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt, and the one sane nephew who wonders if he dare marry; first presented in September 1992 at Central High School's auditorium, a year before the new Stage West Community Playhouse was built.
Jan. 6-23: Man of La Mancha, a musical that is arguably one of the most difficult shows to stage and most challenging to perform; first presented in March 1996, when director Vince Vanni took a big chunk of a year of his life to study the show and find precisely the right actors to play the parts (and here's hoping that Dalton Benson will reprise his excellent rendition of Sancho; I've never seen it done as well by either amateur or professional player).
March 10-27, 2011: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a drama, first presented in January 2003.
May 5-22, 2011: Funny Girl, a musical based on the life of comedian Fanny Brice; first played in November 2003, starring professional actor Sara Del Beato, and I would not want to be the actor trying to match or top her incredible performance.
Oct. 7-17: Being of Sound Mind, a mind game of a mystery wrapped in a spooky premise; new show.
Feb. 10-20: Move Over, Mrs. Markham, a comedy by the area's favorite playwright, Ray Cooney, and co-writer John Chapman, madcap fun with adultery and fornication; first played on the main stage in May 1996.
April 7-17, 2011: Lost in Yonkers, the Neil Simon comedy-drama about — what else? — a totally dysfunctional family; first presented in January 1997.
Seats will be held for this year's subscribers until May 29. After that, all seats are open.
The theater is also offering a flex pass, which lets you buy five main stage tickets for $60 or three Forum tickets for $20 and use one or all of them as space allows.
There are also two shows planned in the summer of 2011, the first (June 11-13 and 18-20) being Jungle Book, based on Rudyard Kipling's book, and the second (Aug. 6-8 and 13-15) being Charlotte's Web, a musical based on E.B. White's book and performed by the children's group. Tickets to either are $10.
The current season is far from over. The musical Li'l Abner continues weekends through March 21 in the main stage, with Edward Albee's dark, adult drama Everything in the Garden there from May 6-23.
In the Forum is the melancholy drama The Shadow Box, about three people in hospice working out difficult relationships as they near death. In 1977, it won the Tony Award for Best Play, Drama Desk Award for Outstanding New American Play and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. It plays April 8-18.
The theater box office, 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill, is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and Saturday, and an hour before each show. Call (352) 683-5113.