Although the 2011-12 theater season is still in full swing, with some of the most promising shows still on the agenda, local venues are already thinking about 2012-13. Last week it was Stage West Community Playhouse. This week it's Richey Suncoast Theatre — and both have announced what promises to be good times for all concerned.
Richey Suncoast's season includes three musicals — one completely new to this area's stages — and two comedy/farces by the team of Michael and Susan Parker, playwrights I would describe as 21st century American versions of England's Ray Cooney, heretofore this market's favorite (Run for Your Wife, Caught in the Net, Wife Begins at Forty, It Runs in the Family, etc.).
The Parkers set their brand of wild humor in the United States, and Richey Suncoast has chosen two that are timely and rib-tickling.
The Sensuous Senator will play Oct. 18 to Nov. 4, just in time for the presidential election. It's about a U.S. senator who has built his career on "family values," but when his wife takes an out-of-town trip, he calls his voluptuous secretary to come over for an all-night tryst (anything sound familiar here?). The secretary turns him down, but a fellow congressman shows up, as does the senator's nephew and a girl the senator has booked through an escort service — and, finally (well, almost) the secretary and a snoopy reporter from the National Intruder. Of course, chaos ensues.
The Parkers' Hot Bed Hotel plays Jan. 10-27, 2013, and is set in the Florida Keys, where a couple is trying to sell their shabby hotel and asks the staff to impersonate paying guests to impress a prospective buyer. There are mistaken identities, zany impersonations, unexpected twists and turns — and, of course, chaos ensues.
The three musicals start out with the new-to-us Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick 1963 romp, She Loves Me, set in the 1930s and based on the movie, The Shop Around the Corner, and later, the Judy Garland flick, In the Good Old Summertime. In it, a female clerk at a perfume shop constantly quarrels with her manager, while day-dreaming about her secret pen pal. You can guess who the pen pal is, but it takes a whole musical to work things out.
The second musical is Thoroughly Modern Millie, the Tony and Drama Desk Award-winning 2002 musical based on the 1967 movie starring Julie Andrews. Set in the 1920s, it's the tale of a small town girl who goes to New York City in search of a rich husband. She's mugged and robbed and checks into a cheap hotel, which turns out to be a front for a Chinese white slavery racket. It's funny and fun and was very well received when it played at the Show Palace Dinner Theater in early 2009.
The season closer is A Chorus Line, the multi-award-winning musical that ran for 6,137 performances on Broadway after its 1975 debut. It's a series of stories by a group of dancers trying out for a place in the dance line of a big Broadway show. I've seen the show more than a dozen times, but I'm already looking forward to seeing it again, even though I cry during one of the closing stories told by a hopeful and have to leave the theater with a bright red nose.
Tickets will go on sale in February (watch this space for the date) and will cost the same as last year: $60 for the five regular shows or $70 for those five, plus the annual holiday show, A Pasco Christmas. Current season ticket holders will have until May 27 to keep their seats; everyone can buy tickets from the start and either choose their seats from what is available or buy now and put in a request for a currently reserved one.
All regular shows open on a Thursday and continue for the three subsequent weekends. The holiday show plays two weekends. Shows are at 8 p.m., except Sundays at 2:30 p.m.