A new, exciting season of theater awaits audiences throughout greater Williamsburg and beyond.
In a couple weeks, the Williamsburg Players will open their 58th year with a lavish production of the long-running Broadway show, "Cats." The show, directed by Peter Natale, opens the season at the James-York Playhouse and should fill seats. Cats is the second-longest Broadway show, running for 18 years. It has become one of the most beloved musicals of all time.
The show, composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber, is based on "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" by T.S. Eliot. It tells the story of a group of "Jellicle" cats who have to make the Jellicle choice, picking one among them to travel to the Heaviside Layer where they will be granted a new life. The song, "Memory" is likely the most well-known of the score, and has become synonymous with the show.
Natale has cast 25 people in his production, ranging in age from 12 to 63. Shawn Blasingame, owner of Broadway Dance Arts is choreographing the physically demanding show. Blasingame returns to the James-York Playhouse, after choreographing "A Chorus Line," in 2006 and "The Producers" in 2011.
"This is an all singing and dancing musical extravaganza, so the challenge was to find those who could excel for two hours in this ensemble show where they are on stage nearly the whole time," Natale said.
The music is being directed by Mike McCoy. McCoy, who since the musical "Chicago," last year has led the live orchestras in Players productions.
Natale, who recently directed the summer musical "Peter Pan," said that those who attend the show will likely see a version of their own cat on stage.
"This family-friendly show will delight audiences of all ages, and if you look closely enough, you may see your own cat portrayed on the stage in this song and dance musical extravaganza," he said.
The show opens Sept. 11 and runs through Sept. 27. Performances for all shows are Thursday-Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday matinees are at 2 p.m. The rest of the season features "Mousetrap," Nov. 6-22; "Run for Your Wife," Jan. 15-31; "39 Steps," March 12-28 and "Guys and Dolls," May 28-June 13. For ticket information, visit http://www.williamsburgplayers.org or call 229-0431.
William & Mary Theatre also has a big season in the offing. The main stage season of four shows coupled with two dance concerts are planned. Evening shows are at 8 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2 p.m. The season opens with "Big Love," by Charles Mee, directed by Elizabeth Wiley, Oct. 2-5. That's followed by Bertolt Brecht's "Threepenny Opera," Nov. 20-23, directed by Richard Palmer. "Crowns" by Regina Taylor will be presented Feb. 26-March 1, directed by Artisia Green. The season closes with the rock musical, "Spring Awakening," by Frank Wedekind, directed by Laurie Wolf, April 23-26.
"Dancevent," which is a program by William and Mary choreographers Joan Gavaler, Leah Glenn and Denise Damon Wade, is scheduled Oct. 23-25 at 8 p.m and Oct. 26 at 2 p.m. in Phi Beta Kappa Memorial Hall. "An Evening of Dance," featuring members of Orchesis will be directed by dance faculty and presented March 26-29. Tickets for the shows can be reserved by calling 221-0431 or visiting http://www.wm.edu/boxoffice
Broadway in Richmond will feature several blockbusters at the Altria (formerly Landmark) Theatre in Richmond. The series opens with "Book of Mormon," Nov. 4-9 followed by "Million Dollar Quartet," Jan. 16-17; "Sister Act," Feb. 13-14; "Chicago," March 13-15 and "Memphis," April 24-25. Tickets can be purchased by calling 804 592-3401 or by visiting http://www.broadwayinrichmond.com.
Chrysler Hall in Norfolk also features a variety of Broadway tours. "The Book of Mormon" will open the season Oct. 28–Nov. 2; 'Wicked" Nov. 26–Dec. 7; "The Phantom of the Opera," Jan 8-18, "Sister Act," Feb. 21-21, and "Camelot" April 3-4. For information, visit http://www.broadwaynorfolk.com.
The Ferguson Center for Performing Arts at Christopher Newport University in Newport News will present a series of popular musicals. "Jekyll & Hyde" will be presented Nov. 14-15; "Smokey Joe's Cafe," Jan. 15-17; "Jersey Boys" Feb.14-22 and "Menopause, the Musical" April 24-25. Visit http://www.fergusoncenter.org for ticket information or call the box office at 757 594-8752.