Arts & Theater

Fewer plays, but more joy for Music Circus in 2017

Hilary Maiberger portrayed Belle and Darick Pead was Beast in Disney’s “Beauty and The Beast” in March.
Hilary Maiberger portrayed Belle and Darick Pead was Beast in Disney’s “Beauty and The Beast” in March.

At first glance the new Music Circus 2017 season announced today might look a little short. Instead of the six shows offered during the past two years, five shows comprise the season, which opens June 20 with a two-week run of “Beauty and the Beast.”

The popular musical based on the successful Disney movie was the highest-rated title on last year’s Music Circus audience survey. There’s a thought and hope more people will back up their pencil marks by buying more tickets. In order to give “Beauty and the Beast” enough time the schedule had to trim a show.

“That’s the concession we had to make for a two-week run of Beauty and the Beast,” said Scott Klier the Executive Producer of California Musical Theatre.

“It allows for us to devote a lot more resources to that one title than we could if was just a one week run,” Klier said. “ ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is a huge show, and its success lies in the detail you’re able to bring to that storytelling, and I’m really excited about what we’ll be able to do.”

Following “Beauty and the Beast” (June 20-July 2) will be “On The Town” (July 11-16), “9 to 5: The Musical” (July 25-30), “Damn Yankees” (Aug. 8-13), and “Sister Act” (Aug. 22-27).

The generational divide of the shows and the inclusion of contemporary and classical musical theater is entirely intentional. Two of the titles (“9 to 5” and “Sister Act”) premiered on Broadway in the last decade while “On the Town” and “Damn Yankees” are 61 and 72 years old respectively.

“People are wanting to see new work,” Klier said. “So we’re … giving them pieces they haven’t seen at Music Circus before and then finding classic pieces we can breathe new life into where they can feel new.”

“On the Town,” the only show that wasn’t included in the audience survey, seems like a particular outlier with it legendary creative pedigree, the music by Leonard Bernstein, book and lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. Based on Jerome Robbins’ 1944 ballet “Fancy Free” choreographed to a Bernstein score, the story follows three sailors on a 24-hour leave in New York City during World War II.

“I didn’t see an opportunity to have a dance-centric show,” Klier said. He knew the rights to “ On the Town” were available, and the Broadway producer is making those costumes available.

 ‘On the Town’ communicates in a very different way than the other pieces,” Klier said. “It really is about that score and the choreography.”

“On The Town” has not been at Music Circus since 1961.

With a score by Dolly Parton, “9 to 5: The Musical” will be a Music Circus premiere though a national touring show came to the Community Center Theatre in 2011. Based on the 1980 comedy film about three women who stage a coup in an office dominated by an overbearing man, the title had the second-highest score of productions the audience wanted to see.

“It’s high-energy, musically spine-tingling, and our audience loved it when it toured through Sacramento,” Klier said. “With Glen Casale directing, I know it’s going to be funny, and given the talent pool we’re able to draw from, I’m confident we’ll be able to find three rock star women to inhabit those key roles of empowered women.”

“Damn Yankees” was last seen at the Music Circus in 2003. The production brings back the creative pairing of director Charles Repole and choreographer Michael Lichtefeld. The two pulled off the surprise hit of last summer with the beguiling “Nice Work If You Can Get It.”

The pair did “Damn Yankees” last summer at a theater in Pittsburgh, Pa., and will translate the ideas of that show into the round for Music Circus.

CMT has rescaled the theater’s seating tiers, doubling the number of seats in the lowest price range of $45. They are also putting the seats on sale earlier than before (Monday, Nov. 21) creating a longer window for potential subscribers.

“Our great challenge is introducing the next generation to Music Circus,” Klier said.

“I think the season is incredibly accessible – by design – we really wanted a season focused on joy, and I can guarantee that the season provides 12 1/2 hours of pure escapist joy.”

Marcus Crowder: 916-321-1120, @marcuscrowder

Music Circus 2017

Ticket sales: Season subscriptions go on sale Monday, Nov. 21. Season subscribers must renew by Jan. 27, 2017 to keep current seating assignments. Single-show tickets for on sale March 10.

Cost: Season subscriptions: $225-$301; single tickets: $45-$74; for “Beauty and the Beast” only, tickets are $45 in any section for children 4–12 years old. Children under the age of 4 (including babes in arms) will not be admitted to the theater.

Information: 916-557-1999 or