California Musical Theatre has announced its 2016 Music Circus season with a schedule featuring four series premieres.
Two previously produced familiar titles, “Hello, Dolly!” and “Cabaret,” will be joined by “Legally Blonde,” “Seussical,” “Nice Work If You Can Get It” and finally “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”
Music Circus artistic director Glenn Casale directs four of the original productions, with Michael Heitzman helming the season-opening “Legally Blonde” (he directed “Big River” last year) and Charles Repole (“42nd Street” in 2010) directing the Gershwins-based 2012 Broadway hit, “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”
Closing the series is the relatively unknown and unseen “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” which will be, as “Hair” was last year, a season option.
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Scott Klier, CMT’s executive producer, said he was extremely pleased with how the season option worked last year both in terms of attendance and the show itself.
“ ‘Hair’ wasn’t a title we thought our entire subscription base would want to see, and that proved to be true,” Klier said in an interview at the CMT offices. “Fifty percent of our subscribers opted to see ‘Hair,’ and we were delighted that we sold the other tickets to single-ticket buyers who were thrilled to see the production.”
The feeling at Music Circus was that “Hunchback” lent itself best to this season’s option slot, where the theater company will put titles that “incur some risk.” That way, Music Circus has all summer to promote the show and sell tickets, Klier said.
The musical retelling of the epic Victor Hugo tragic novel is the only stage collaboration from two American musical theater heavyweights, Alan Menken (“The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast”) and Stephen Schwartz (“Wicked” and “Pippin”). The score features lush choral arrangements, and the Music Circus production will employ a local choir to give the music the richness it requires.
“ ‘Hunchback’ is, despite its Disney origins, a new title and there’s always risk in that,” Klier said of the musical, which although hugely successful in Europe doesn’t have a Broadway history, having been been produced only twice domestically.
“My hope is that we mix it up each summer,” Klier said. “What I don’t want is to be cookie-cutter, where the success of ‘Hair’ dictates we produce another ‘Hair’-like title. I think what we do in ’17 will be something completely different than ’16. That’s the goal.”
Klier said that “Seussical,” written by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, is another lesser-known title with fairly complex music despite its whimsical origins in the world of Dr. Seuss.
“It’s a heartfelt story that is so beautifully written, I think the score is gorgeous,” Klier said. “Seussical” will be designed by the Sacramento legend Richard Bay, the puppet master and former CSUS theater professor, who, Klier noted, has “an amazing history of creativity and is a true gentleman of the theater.”
“Nice Work If You Can Get It” employs classics from the George and Ira Gershwin songbook, including “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off,” “I’ve Got a Crush on You,” “ ’S Wonderful,” “Fascinating Rhythm” and “Someone To Watch Over Me.” The book, written by Joe DiPietro, is based on 1926 material by Guy Bolton and P.G. Wodehouse. Production features tap dance sequences originally staged by director and choreographer Kathleen Marshall.
“Legally Blonde,” which opens the season, has been one of the most audience-requested shows since the inception of its Broadway production.
“The score’s a lot of fun,” Klier said. “It has a message worth sharing, especially for young women today, about empowerment and how they base their own self-worth. It will be a splashy, upbeat way to kick off the season.”
66th Music Circus Season
What: The 14th season lineup in the Wells Fargo Pavilion is as follows. All evening performances begin at 7:30 p.m. (Tuesday through Saturday). Matinees are at 2 p.m. on Thursday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. There will no longer be a Sunday evening performance. The Sunday matinee will be available as a season subscription.
- June 14-19: “Legally Blonde”
- June 28-July 3: “Hello, Dolly!”
- July 12-17: “Seussical”
- July 26-31: “Cabaret”
- Aug. 9-14: “Nice Work If You Can Get It”
- Aug. 23-28: “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (option to the season for subscribers)
On sale: Season subscriptions, Monday, Jan. 11; single-show tickets, Friday, April 22