Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2012 brings variety, mirth, music and drama at EPAC


Wow. Just … wow!

The Ephrata Performing Arts Center’s marvelous 2011 season is still in full swing, and yet there’s already a whole new slate of fabulous shows to look forward to at the Sharadin Bigler Theatre in 2012!

You’ll be hearing a lot more about all these shows soon. But, for now, here’s the varied and exciting rundown:

Feb. 3-12, Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast, Jr.”

The lovely and bookish Belle wants to escape her provincial life. The Beast wants to break a curse and return to his former self. Each has something to teach the other. All that … and the teapot and the candlesticks come to singing, dancing life for your entertainment. The whole family will love this heartwarming Family-Series musical at EPAC.

March 8-24, “Next to Normal

I’ve heard wonderful things about this musical, which concerns how a family copes with a woman’s mental illness in the aftermath of tragedy. Friends who saw it on Broadway couldn’t stop talking about this show; they said it was amazing, intense, overwhelming … the effusive adjectives went on and on. I can’t wait to see what they’ve been talking about. This show won both the 2010 Pulitizer Prize for drama – only the eighth musical ever to get the honor – and Tony Awards including Best Score, so you know it’s firing on all cylinders!

April 25-May 12, “Xanadu”

You know you’re hearing Olivia Newton-John sing “Xanadu” in your mind right now, amid visions of leg warmers, roller skates and disco glory. This big, beautiful, campy show, about a Mount Olympus muse who inspires an artist to create a roller disco – with the muse’s jealous sisters causing trouble along the way – is filled with happy music and disco delights. And, bonus!: Its book is by Pennsylvania native Douglas Carter Beane, who wrote that EPAC on the Edge sensation, “The Little Dog Laughed.”

June 7-23, “Blithe Spirit”

I saw this classic comedy play by Noel Coward years ago in my hometown, and was completely captivated by the story of a married novelist; the eccentric medium he hires to perform a séance, and the vexing ghost of the novelist’s annoying late first wife, who suddenly begins appearing only to him. Marital mayhem and general zaniness ensue in this ghostly romp. Once you’ve met the medium, Madame Arcati (played in the recent Broadway revival by Angela Lansbury), you’ll never forget her!

July 19-August 4, “The Who’s Tommy”

Rock out with EPAC as The Who’s famed fable of the traumatized Tommy and his “Pinball Wizard” arcade superstardom comes to life on the Sharadin Bigler stage. You’ve seen how well EPAC handles such rock fare as “Rent,” so you won’t want to miss the chance to see what the troupe does with “Tommy.” This show will take Boomers like me back to their youth, and grab a whole new generation of theatergoers – taking us all on a thrilling, theatrical ride.

Sept. 6-22, “The Night of the Iguana”

Tennessee Williams wrote masterful plays that demonstrate, in no uncertain terms, his deep understanding of all aspects of human nature. In this work, set in a seedy Mexican hotel, an agitated defrocked minister tries to function as a tour guide while dealing with the attentions of three very different women. Ed Fernandez has been longing to sink his directorial teeth into this drama for a long time; we can’t wait to see the results.

Oct. 25-Nov. 10, To Be Announced: A Tony Award-winning, contemporary pop/rock musical

The folks at EPAC can’t yet tell you the title of this show yet. But you’ll be thrilled when they ARE able to announce it. More on this show later!!

Dec. 6-22, “Anything Goes”

Cole Porter’s classic musical about the shipboard antics of a wide variety of characters – from stowaway Billy Crocker to heiress Hope Harcourt to nightclub singer Reno Sweeney – is as popular today as it ever was. It’s no accident that this musical has had so many recent revivals; it’s a real crowd-pleaser, filled with Porter standards (and meaty roles for the actors!).

For information about subscribing to the new season, visit the EPAC website. Current subscribers can renew here.

"Beauty and the Beast, Jr." auditions, for those ages 5-16, are Saturday, Nov. 12; see the website for details, and click here to register.

Auditions for the rest of the new season will be held Jan. 7-11. Check the website for details soon.

The annual party for subscribers will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28.

And, don’t forget … it’s still 2011, and there’s plenty of entertainment yet in store on the Sharadin Bigler stage! “Evil Dead: The Musical” runs through Nov. 6. If you missed EPAC’s fantastic production of “The Vagina Monologues” last year, you won’t want to miss your chance again. Sharon Mellinger is again directing this funny, heartwarming play, with new monologues and a new cast. It runs Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11 and 12.

And you can celebrate the holidays in style with those singing, dancing felines of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats,” running Dec. 8-23.

And, P.S., don't forget to check the website for information on EPAC's online auction. There are some great prizes to bid on, including a stay at a resort in Rehoboth Beach and golf and fitness packages.

-- Mary Ellen ("Merv") Wright