NEWS BLOG (WSAU) Congratulations to Wausau Community Theater on their just-completed 2011-12 season. I’ve enjoyed many of their plays, and have been happy to tell readers of this blog about them.
WCT is inviting their audience to help pick the shows for the 2013 season. (2012 is already set: “Annie”, “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas”, “A Christmas Carol”, “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Hair” – a strong line-up.)
I’ll suggest some of my favorites, although I freely admit that ‘Conley Community Theater’ might not sell many tickets and could go bankrupt after its first season. My ideal line up would have one drama, preferably something of educational value for students in the area like 2011’s ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’; I’d pick one modern musical that would appeal to a younger audience; and two traditional American musicals.
- Chicago – A Chorus Line showed us that Wausau Community Theater can bring forth good dancers.Chicago(from the same year as A Chorus Line – 1975) wears its age well. I’d particularly welcome the original staging, where the play is presented as a vaudeville musical instead of the black dance-stocking Encores! revival that continues to sell a lot of tickets on Broadway.
- Death of a Salesman – I would love to see our premiere community theater group stage one classic play a year that would be a must-see for high school English classes. Arthur Miller’s Death of Salesman would be a good place to start. I could imagine The Crucible, Inherit The Wind, Our Town, or even Angels in America would be valuable theater experiences for students and for the larger community. There’s a concern here – would the community support these productions? WCT can’t afford to take a huge loss. Support from area educators would be critical; if the schools don’t support it, these types of plays won’t last in a community theater line-up.
- A Christmas Carol – I wish more families would make A Christmas Carol part of their annual holiday celebration, like watching It’s A Wonderful Life on TV or sipping hot chocolate while reading ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas before sending the kids to bed on Christmas Eve. With a cast full of carolers and villagers, there’s a part for everyone who wants to take the stage. This is a great entry-point for people who’d like to advance to other plays. I look forward to it every year.
- Spring Awakening – UW-Stevens Point’s experimental theater production this year was the hottest ticket in Central Wisconsin; impossible to get. This is a controversial rock-musical with a message… people would talk, and that’s the arts at their best. Casting would also be very competitive; there’d be a line of 20-somethings who’d love the chance to perform.
- Grease! – This end-of-season summer-fun musical would sell a lot of tickets. While it’s not a personal favorite, Grease! would give WCT a good chance of making up for any losses from the earlier shows, and would end the year on a high note. The cast and audience would have a good time. Unfortunately, these days audiences insist on the rescripted 1978 post-movie version which includes ‘Summer Nights’ at the expense of several songs that appeared in the original production. Oh well, give ‘em what they want.
I can think of many plays that I’d like to see that may not be box office successes. Pippin or Jekyll & Hyde would be fun nights at the theater, but may not sell a lot of tickets. Brigadoon, a lovely Lerner and Loewe musical, has a lush score – but has become obscure enough that it wasn’t even offered as a choice in the WCT survey. Ragtime, which would be difficult to cast in Wausau, is one of those rare musicals that has something important to say. While I’m not sure if the community theater rights are available yet, it would be an ambitious choice down-the-road.
Everyone has their favorite plays, and no one will like all the shows in an individual season. That’s not the point. Go to all of them, even if you like some more than others. Dinner, a night at the theater, and a nightcap before heading home is a wonderful way to spend an evening, and the arts make our community a better place to live.
Operations Manager,Midwest Communications-Wausau