NEW PORT RICHEY — Richey Suncoast Theatre has announced major changes for the 2018-19 season at its Grand Boulevard venue, as well as the return of a four-show season geared toward mature audiences in an intimate Black Box Theatre setting.
The most obvious change is that each regular season show will be presented seven times, down from 10. Instead of opening on a Thursday and continuing for three subsequent weekends, the theater will open on a Thursday and continue the next two weekends. Third-weekend season ticket holders will have to choose seats during the shortened run of a show.
The hope is to have larger audiences at fewer shows, reducing the cost of performance rights and saving the theater a considerable amount of money, according to Marie Skelton, executive director. The season consists of three musicals and two comedies.
Season and individual ticket prices for the regular-season shows remains the same as this year: $18 for individual shows, $70 for all five, a savings of $20. Curtain times remain at 8 p.m., except Sundays at 2:30 p.m. Season tickets are on sale; current ticket holders have until May 27 to keep their seats.
Tickets also will have a new form. Instead of the red, white or blue punch cards, individual show tickets will have a bar code that can be scanned, and once scanned, not re-used.
A children's holiday show will run Nov. 23-25, Skelton said. Tickets for that event will be $5.
The schedule change also allows time for the return of Black Box shows on the Richey Suncoast Stage, Skelton said.
"Only this time, we will have comfortable padded chairs, instead of those folding chairs," she said. Patrons can purchase tickets at the box office and climb the stairs onto the stage or enter through the side stage door, with no steps to climb.
The Black Box Theatre was launched two years ago, with hopes of having its own venue in the former Jimmy Ferraro Studio Theatre on Main Street. Several construction issues arose during the reconfiguration of the theater, so that idea was nixed. Instead, shows were presented on the stage of Richey Suncoast Theatre. When the construction issues couldn't be resolved, Richey Suncoast's board of directors decided to abandon the idea of a separate theater and continue the Black Box shows at the main theater for now.
"We'll do the Black Box shows with just props, no sets," Skelton said.
Because there will be only 30 seats, ticket prices will be slightly higher, she said. Individual shows are $25 and available the night of the show; season tickets are $80 and on sale now. The shows will run for one weekend: 8 p.m. Friday; 2:30 and 8 p.m. Saturday; and 2:30 Sunday.
Both seasons (nine shows) will cost $140, a savings of $50 over individual purchases. Season tickets are available at the box office in the theater lobby, 6237 Grand Blvd., from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and 1 to 6 p.m. Fridays until May 27. Cash or check is preferred. A service charge will be added for credit card sales.
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Richey Suncoast Theatre season
Sept. 6-16: Hands on a Hardbody, a musical based on a documentary about a contest in Longview, Texas, where contestants put their hands on a pickup truck and the last one to remove his or her hand wins the truck. The musical is about the lives and loves of the contestants.
Oct. 25-Nov. 4: Unnecessary Farce, a comedy/farce about a philandering mayor and the cops who try to videotape him during a tryst.
Jan. 17-27: The Fox on the Fairway, a comedy by Ken Ludwig (Leading Ladies, Moon Over Buffalo, Shakespeare in Hollywood) about the sports and sexual shenanigans during a golf tournament at a fancy country club.
March 7-17: Dogfight, a poignant musical set around the time of the war in Vietnam. The "dogfight" is a contest among soldiers on the night before they ship out to see who can bring the ugliest woman — the "dog" — to a late-night party. One soldier feels guilty about the cruelty of the game and seeks his date out after he returns from the war.
May 9-19, 2019: Sister Act, a musical based on the 1992 film, when the female witness to a gangland murder hides out in a convent with a lively group of nuns and becomes the director of a wildly successful choir there.
Black Box Theatre
Nov. 9-11: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, a dramedy about a petty criminal who pretends to be insane so he can spend his jail time in the relative luxury of a mental institution, rather than on a work farm.
Feb. 1-3: Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks, a comedy about a St. Pete Beach widow who hires a teacher from a local dance school to come to her apartment to teach her to dance.
May 31-June 2: Almost Maine, a comedy about love and romance under the Northern Lights in a remote town in Maine.
Aug. 2-4: Night Mother, a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama about a young woman who vows to commit suicide, despite the pleadings of her mother.