When it comes to planning, the Show Palace Dinner Theatre likes to be way out front.
It's still July 2008, of course, but owners Nick and Sal Sessa are already announcing the June 2009 to June 2010 season, with tickets going on sale to current season ticket holders Aug. 4-18 and to the public at 9 a.m. Aug. 19.
"We find that people like to make plans far in advance," especially tour group operators and club program chairmen, Nick Sessa said. "We've secured the rights to the shows, so why not go ahead and sell tickets?"
Besides, early buyers can get the most coveted seats in the house.
Three of the seven shows in the 2009-10 season are making return appearances: Fiddler on the Roof, which the Show Palace did in 1998 and 2000, as well as new versions of the '50s and '60s Revue and A Show Palace Christmas.
Making their Show Palace debuts are the high-energy romance Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, the Bob Fosse favorite Sweet Charity, the male version of the musical comedy Nunsense, this one called Nunsense, A-Men, and a new Broadway musical that, because of current performance rights, can't be announced until January but is described as "a big, fat musical comedy hit," which gives a big, fat clue what it is.
The Show Palace is also announcing a price increase of $2 a ticket, effective Aug. 4, the day the new season goes on sale.
Those who want to save money on the shows through May 31, 2009, must purchase those tickets by 3 p.m. Aug. 3. That would include Smokey Joe's Cafe (this Aug. 1 to Sept. 21); The Unsinkable Molly Brown (Oct. 3 to Nov. 22); A Show Palace Christmas 2008 (Nov. 27 to Dec. 25); The Producers (Jan. 3 to Feb. 22); Thoroughly Modern Millie (Feb. 27 to April 19); and Viva Vegas! — The Sequel (April 24 to May 31).
A bonus allows theatergoers to buy tickets for Smokey Joe's Cafe at the old price through the end of the production on Sept. 21.
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Buyers will get a couple of extra chances for prime seats starting in September 2010, when the Show Palace starts opening its shows with Wednesday and Thursday matinees instead of the usual Friday nights.
This will bring a 10-day break between productions, instead of the current five.
"This gives us a little more time for tech work," said Susan Haldeman, production stage manager. "The actors will be on the set for a little longer" before a show opens.
The longer break is especially good news for performers who are doing back-to-back shows and for crew members who must strike one set and install a completely new one while performers are trying to learn their positions on stage in that five-day span.
"We're giving (set and light designer) Tom Hansen a break here," Ms. Haldeman said. "As it is now, he is really rushed."
The exception to the Wednesday opening is the Christmas show, which will continue to open on Thanksgiving.
If you go
2009-10 Show Palace Dinner Theatre season
June 5 to July 26, 2009: The Fabulous '50s and '60s Revue is quickly becoming a Show Palace tradition. Originally conceived and directed by the late Joe Camper in 2004, Fabulous was a record-setter for its time slot despite being interrupted by Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Jeanne and Ivan. The 2006 version set still another attendance record in its time slot and was held over for two weeks. The 2009 version will have new dances and songs and something even newer, a segment for requests from the audience.
July 31 to Sept. 13, 2009: Nunsense, A-Men! is basically the original 1985 Nunsense musical (there have been several sequels since then) but done in drag. Show Palace favorite Matthew McGee, who played reporter Mary Sunshine in Chicago and also does a mean Dame Edna Everage, will play Mother Superior.
Sept. 23 to Nov. 15, 2009: Fiddler on the Roof is the heart-warming, ground-breaking 1964 musical about Jewish persecution in czarist Russia at the turn of the 20th century. The story is told through the dairyman Tevye, his wife, Golde, and their five daughters.
Nov. 26 to Dec. 27, 2009: A Show Palace Christmas, the all-new, traditional Christmas and Hanukkah musical show, has classic carols, high-energy dancing and visits by familiar holiday characters.
Jan. 6 to Feb. 21, 2010: Seven Brides for Seven Brothers is the robust musical based on the 1954 Hollywood film, which itself was based on the ancient Roman legend of The Rape of the Sabine Women. The happy-go-lucky stage version is set in backwoods Oregon in 1850, where the bride of a man with six brothers hopes to give her brothers-in-law some manners by finding them brides. The enthusiastic young men kidnap six women, who just happen to have boyfriends, then cause an avalanche, which traps all 14 of them in the mountains for the winter. The boys live in the barn, the girls in the house — until spring, when the snow melts and love springs eternal.
March 3 to April 18, 2010: Once again, the Show Palace has scheduled a show that is still running on Broadway (those tickets are going for $240 a pop, by the way), so its name can't be revealed until January. Suffice to say, it's a big, fat hit, both on the stage and in the movies (as a comedy and more recently, as a musical). It's gotten rave reviews, won eight Tony Awards and been running for six years.
April 28 to June 20, 2010: Sweet Charity, the Neil Simon-Cy Coleman musical originally staged and choreographed by the late Bob Fosse for his wife, the late Gwen Verdon, is the story of Charity Hope Valentine, an optimistic dime-a-dance girl at the Fandango Ballroom who is always looking for love in all the wrong places. Includes the songs Big Spender and If My Friends Could See Me Now.