California Musical Theatre’s Richard Lewis isn’t taking any chances with the production pipeline that brings professional musical theater touring shows to town.
In announcing the Broadway Sacramento 2014-15 season, Lewis and CMT have publicized a larger-than-usual stake in one of the shows. Along with other members of Independent Producers Network, they’ll be producing “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,” which runs Jan. 27-Feb. 1, 2015.
Other CMT shows are “Jersey Boys” (Nov. 5-22), “Dirty Dancing – The Classic Story on Stage” (Dec. 26- Jan. 4), “Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles” (March 17-22, 2015), “Once” (April 14-19, 2015), and “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella” (May 12-17, 2015).
“Looking down the road at the potential for there to be a lack of product, you can hit dry spells,” Lewis said. “We wanted to get together, pick a title, pony up the dollars and produce a show specifically for us.”
The IPN is a group of presenters that includes Sacramento’s CMT, Broadway San Diego, Broadway San Jose, Center Theater Group (in Los Angeles), and Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre. Each group presents touring Broadway shows in its respective city. The idea of producing “Joseph” appealed to the involved parties as a way to keep the product up to standards while accommodating the presenters’ complex schedules, Lewis said.
The presenters are subject to the availability of tours, and some shows, such as “Book of Mormon,” have performed so strongly in the primary markets (San Francisco, for example) that secondary markets such as Sacramento haven’t been able to secure them yet. Other popular shows have different restrictions. “Jersey Boys,” for example, was unavailable on the West Coast for three years while it had a residency in Las Vegas.
In addition, CMT differs from other presenters as it also produces Music Circus, a summer series of original productions at the Wells Fargo Pavilion. Lewis must coordinate his five Music Circus titles with his six Broadway Sacramento presentations so there’s no overlapping of content.
“We are an anomaly in the group because we have to look out for titles we want to hold and do (later) for Music Circus,” Lewis said. “ ‘Joseph’ is one of those of titles, and for us it’s a good piece of work to do at the Music Circus (which last presented it in 2010). But we’ll just have to wait a few years and we’ll do it down the road.”
While CMT has previously invested in Broadway shows likely to tour, the last time the presenter actively produced its own Broadway Sacramento title was in 2004, when Leland Ball (former CMT producing director) helmed an original production of “Dreamgirls,” which also played in San Jose and Seattle.
“Joseph” lands in the middle of the new season, which gets off to a big-time start with “Jersey Boys” in November. The Tony-winning story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons has the longest run and most shows of any production on the schedule – 24 performances over three weeks. “Dirty Dancing,” which follows in December, is the second-longest-running production with a 10-day, 13-performance run.
After “Dirty Dancing,” the popular multimedia Beatles tribute “Rain” returns to Sacramento after a strong run in 2011. The show features four onstage musicians playing and singing hits and rarities from the Fab Four’s celebrated catalog while dressing in period costumes representing the group’s influential stylistic shifts.
“Once,” winner of eight Tony Awards, arrives at the Community Center Theater in April 2015. Based on the hit independent film – with music and lyrics by Academy Award winners Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová – the production not only has its performers playing instruments live on stage, but its set includes a working bar.
“Before the show the audience is invited up to buy a drink, and at intermission they’re invited to buy a drink,” Lewis said.
The final show of the season is May’s “Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” which had its revival open March 3, 2013, at the Broadway Theatre in New York, where it’s still running. The production features a reworked book by playwright Douglas Carter Beane and new orchestrations of the score. The Music Circus produced the original Rodgers and Hammerstein version in 1961.
“It’s just a beautiful, classic piece of work,” Lewis said.
Call The Bee’s Marcus Crowder, (916) 321-1120. Follow him on Twitter @marcuscrowder.