The patrons asked, and Stage West Community Playhouse listened.
For some time, many patrons have been asking Stage West to move the curtain time for evening performances from 8 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., especially on the Main Stage, when lengthy musicals often don't conclude until 11 p.m. or later.
It makes sense; Stage West's co-tenant, the Hernando Symphony Orchestra, set its start at 7:30 p.m. ages ago, even though the concerts rarely run more than two hours. The change to the earlier start for the acting side would make the theater's start times completely consistent.
Two other big changes for Stage West: (1) Because of heavy ticket demand for the 159-seat Forum auditorium shows over the past couple of years (and as I look at the yummy 2014-15 Forum season — see below — I think that is only going to increase), Stage West is adding a Saturday matinee performance next season, for a total of eight Forum shows, and (2) Over on the 391-seat Main Stage, because of heavy patron requests, the board is switching the second Saturday evening show to a matinee, for a total of three matinee shows (first weekend Sunday and second weekend Saturday and Sunday) and four evening shows (opening weekend Thursday, Friday and Saturday; second weekend, Friday only).
People who have second Saturday evening tickets will get first dibs on those Saturday matinee tickets.
And there will be a slight increase in price for those tickets next season. Individual Main Stage shows will be $18; all four musicals go for $65. In the Forum, individual tickets will be $15, and $50 for the season. The best bargain is to get all eight shows for $100, a savings of $32 off individual tickets. Current season ticket holders have until the end of this season to keep their current seats. After that, any seat is fair game for all. If you're not a season ticket holder now, you can go ahead and buy your tickets and get your seats if they're not already taken, or choose them after the deadline, when several choice seats become available.
Call (352) 683-5113 for information.
The season starts on the Main Stage on Oct. 16 and ends in the Forum on May 17. There's a show every month, alternating between musicals on the Main Stage and comedies or dramas in the Forum.
Oct. 16-26: Hairspray (Main Stage), an eight-time Tony Award-winning feel-good musical comedy set in 1962 Baltimore, where the chubby young Tracy Turnblad dreams of dancing on the American Bandstand-style TV show, the Corny Collins Show, and when she does, crusades to bring along her new black friends to dance, too. It's heart-warming and lively with some of the funniest moments in musical theater and best songs ever.
Nov. 13-23: Greater Tuna (Forum), set in Texas, its vignettes of 22 hilarious characters — male and female — all played by two actors who make lightning-fast costume and attitude changes.
Dec. 4-14: Nuncrackers (Main), the holiday installment of writer/composer Dan Goggin's series showcasing the Little Sisters of Hoboken. In this one, the sisters are supposed to do The Nutcracker ballet, but the lead dancer is injured, so the sisters have to improvise.
Jan. 15-25, 2015: To Kill a Mockingbird (Forum), the dramatization of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize-winning book, it's the touching story of a principled attorney in the Depression-era South, who, through example, teaches his two young children about the evils of racism and prejudice.
Feb. 12-23, 2015: The Sound of Music (Main Stage), based on the lives of the Von Trapp Family singers, who escape from their homeland of Austria as Nazi Germany invades.
March 12-22, 2015: Moonlight and Magnolias (Forum), a hilarious comedy based on the tale that Hollywood producer David O. Selznick once locked three scriptwriters in a room for five days with orders to finish a script for his latest project, Gone With the Wind. They clash, crash and complain, but in the end … well, it's Gone With the Wind.
April 9-19, 2015: I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change (Main), a musical look at the different stages of love and attraction.
May 7-17, 2015: Born Yesterday (Forum), the 1946 comedy about an uncouth, corrupt junk dealer who brings his showgirl girlfriend with him to Washington, D.C., with plans to bribe a congressman, but is embarrassed by her apparent dimwittedness. He hires a journalist to quickly educate her, but she's smarter than she looks, and the tables are turned.