California Musical Theatre announces its 2013 Music Circus season today, looking to build on the success of last year's altered format.
The five-show season opens June 21 with an extended 13-performance run of "The Wizard of Oz" (through June 30). There will be a dark week between each of the four following shows: "Show Boat" (July 9-14); "Sugar" (July 23-28); "The King and I" (Aug. 6-11); and "Chicago" (Aug. 20-29).
The season-ending "Chicago," based on Bob Fosse's original production (not the revival), also receives an extended run of 12 performances. The remaining three shows are scheduled for eight performances each.
Last year, for the first time in its six decades in Sacramento, Music Circus introduced a week break between its shows instead of backing them up on each other, and the schedule was a hit with audiences as well as Music Circus staffers.
"The audience feedback was so overwhelmingly positive," said Scott Klier, the Music Circus associate producer who conceived the plan. "Even folks who were just so attached to the (old schedule) ended up saying, 'We came in not liking the idea but it turns out it worked better for us.' (The show crews) actually got some sleep between the shows and that was amazing for folks who had never had a day off in a Music Circus summer before. We suddenly worked normal hours."
The 2012 season was also a box office success, with 95,000 tickets sold a 5 percent increase over the 2011 season. Subscriptions reached nearly 9,000, a 35 percent increase over 2011.
Opening the season with the production-heavy "Wizard of Oz" marks an early challenge for the company with not only a live dog on stage (Toto), but also flying effects in several sequences. Klier said the popularity of last year's "Wicked," a CMT Broadway Sacramento presentation, made "Oz" appropriate for the summer's family-friendly show.
"It's a title that's been on our minds since the overwhelming success of 'Wicked,' which reminded us that there's a huge appetite for this story," Klier said.
Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's "Show Boat," which documents 40 years in the lives of performers and stagehands on a Mississippi River show boat, was the first Music Circus production, in 1951, and it also was done in the final year of the old tent in 2001. It has not been done in the Wells Fargo Pavilion.
The most unfamiliar title of the season is likely to be "Sugar," based on the classic Billy Wilder film "Some Like It Hot," which starred Marilyn Monroe, Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis.
The musical comedy, written by Peter Stone, Jule Styne and Bob Merrill, has long been favorite of CMT artistic director Glenn Casale, who lobbied for its inclusion in the season. Klier said he was quickly won over after hearing the music.
"Glenn reminded us how good a musical it is," Klier said. "I was surprised by how strong that score is brassy and fun and good as I've heard in a long time. After hearing it I was shocked it's not produced more."
The last two shows of the season are well known.
"The King and I" is another Hammerstein-penned audience favorite (written with Richard Rodgers), which Music Circus is slipping in before a rumored national tour would restrict the rights.
"Chicago," which closes the season, will be based on the original Fosse production, not the downsized revival still playing on Broadway.
"The goal is for it all to be new," Klier said. "None of these shows will come out of storage. There will be new costumes, new scenic elements, and we'll be introducing new actors to the Pavilion.
"These are five stories I'm looking forward to telling."
MUSIC CIRCUS 2013 SEASON
"The Wizard of Oz" June 21-30 (extended run of 13 performances)
"Show Boat" July 9-14
"Sugar" July 23-28
"The King and I" Aug. 6-11
"Chicago" Aug. 20-29 (extended run of 12 performances)
Season subscriptions: Monday
Single tickets: April 29
http://www.californiamusicaltheatre.com, (916) 557-1999.