The Hottest Musicals to See This Season

beauty-and-beast-sltBY SANDY STAGGS
DRAMA CRITIC

Big budget Disney Musicals, chamber pieces and lots of dancing await Upstate audiences in the 2016-17 Season. Hundreds of performers and technical artists around the Upstate have been preparing all summer for some of the shows opening within the next two weeks. This preview does not include touring productions.

1) DISNEY’S BEAUTY AND THE BEAST
SPARTANBURG LITTLE THEATRE & SC CHILDREN’S THEATRE

September 9-25 & September 10-25, 2016
Two productions of this timeless tale open this weekend and they are both bound to be spectacular. Season opening musicals tend to set the tone and caliber for the entire year and these two casts have been rehearsing much of the summer.

SLT’s production stars Anna Elyse Lewis, Garret Gibson and Brandon Alan Gaunt, while Hannah Thompson, Chase Wolfe and Shawn Simmons head SCCT’s revival. And both feature a cavalcade of familiar names, a who’s who in Upstate theatre.

beauty and the beast scctThis much-loved musical (by both theatre folks and audiences) features songs from the Academy Award-winning animated feature, and the classic story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, who is really a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress.

SLT’s production runs September 9-25 at Chapman Cultural Center, 200 East Saint John St. in Spartanburg. Call (864) 542-2787 or visit chapmanculturalcenter.org.
SCCT’s production runs September 10-25 at the Peace Center’s Gunter Theatre, 300 South Main St. in Greenville. Call (864) 467-3000 or visit http://www.peacecenter.org.


Sister-Act2) SISTER ACT: THE MUSICAL – CENTRE STAGE
March 19 – April 8, 2017

“Sister Act” will give you a reason to rejoice! Based on the popular 1992 film, this heavenly smash hit musical tells the story of disco diva Deloris Van Cartier who, after witnessing a murder, is put into protective custody in the one place the cops are sure she won’t be a found: a convent! With Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Glenn Slater and Book by Cheri Steinkellner & Bill Steinkellner.
Centre Stage is located at 501 River St. in Greenville. Call (864) 233-6733 or visit http://www.centrestage.org.


Urinetown warehouse
Photo by Cox Photography

3) URINETOWN – THE WAREHOUSE THEATRE
September 16 – October 8, 2016

The Tony Award winning “Urinetown” by Greg Kotis & Mark Hollmann is a musical satire of the legal system, capitalism, social irresponsibility, populism, bureaucracy, corporate mismanagement, municipal politics and musical theatre itself! In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. The citizens must use public amenities, regulated by a single malevolent company that profits by charging admission for one of humanity’s most basic needs. Amid the people, a hero decides he’s had enough, and plans a revolution to lead them all to freedom! And the music is so HAPPY!
“Urinetown” is directed by Nancy Halverson and features Chelsea Ann Atkins, Aaron Brakefield, Thomas Azar, Rick Connor, Benjamin Davis, Kelly Wallace, Taylor Marlatt, Jon Kilpatrick, David Sims, Kaylee Gonzalez, Chris Berry, DeBryant Johnson, Javier Skipper, Ashlyn Uribe, Drew Whitley, and Giulia Marie Dalbec. Premium cabaret style seating is available!
The Warehouse Theatre is at 37 Augusta St. in Greenville. Call (864) 235-6948 or visit
http://www.warehousetheatre.com


Jukebox-Heroes-concepts-14) JUKEBOX HEROES – CENTRE STAGE
Jan. 19 – Feb. 11, 2017
Centre Stage’s sell-out rock show is back and better than ever! You’ll be dancing in the aisles and humming along to the greatest singer songwriters of the past during our one-of-a-kind, hit musical revue! Get your tickets early because this show will sell out!
Centre Stage is located at 501 River St. in Greenville. Call (864) 233-6733 or visit http://www.centrestage.org


Curvy Widow5) CURVY WIDOW: THE MUSICAL – NORTH CAROLINA STAGE COMPANY
November 220, 2016
NC Stage Company follows up the hit world premiere musical “A Brave New World” with another World Premiere Musical! Based on a true story, “Curvy Widow” is a sassy, frank and witty musical comedy that follows the daily exploits of a fifty-something widow whose adventures in the least expected places reveal unexpected truths about life, love, survival and sex. Featuring a book by Bobby Goldman, music & lyrics by Drew Brody and direction by Peter Flynn, Curvy learns the HARD way what it means to start life over in the modern age.
Discretionary Warning: Strong sexual content and adult language. Not recommended for children.
North Carolina Stage Company is at 15 Stage Lane in Asheville. Call (828) 239-0263 or visit
www.ncstage.org


footloose glt6) FOOTLOOSE! – GREENVILLE LITTLE THEATRE
SEPTEMBER 16 – OCTOBER 2, 2016
Adapted from the original movie by Dean Pitchford & Walter Bobbie with Music by Tom Snow, “Footloose!” is likely to showcase some of the finest choreography of the season and the rocking, Oscar-nominated, Top 40 score includes “Almost Paradise,” “Let’s Hear It for the Boy,” “Holding Out for a Hero,” and, of course, “Footloose!”  In this rousing story, a young outsider named Ren attempts to revitalize a small town that banned dancing and loud music after the death of five teenagers, but Ren’s feelings for the local minister’s daughter complicate his mission.
Greenville Little Theatre is located at 444 College St. in Greenville. Call (864) 233-6238 or visit www.greenvillelittletheatre.org


grey gardens logo7) GREY GARDENS: THE MUSICAL – TRUSTUS THEATRE
March 10 – April 1, 2017
Grey Gardens is the hilarious and heartbreaking story of Big Edie and Little Edie Bouvier Beale, the eccentric aunt and cousin of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Set at Grey Gardens, the Bouviers’ mansion in East Hampton, New York, the musical tracks the progression of the two women’s lives from their original status as rich and socially polished aristocrats to their eventual largely isolated existence in a home overrun by cats and cited for repeated health code violations. Based on the hit documentary of the same name from 1975, this musical untangles the complicated dynamics of the Bouviers’ dysfunctional mother/daughter relationship.
Trustus Theatre is located at 520 Lady St. in Columbia. Call (803) 254.9732 or visit http://trustus.org.


xanadu8) XANADU – SPARTANBURG LITTLE THEATRE
July 14-23, 2017
A loveable and campy send up the 1980 Olivia Newton John movie musical, Xanadu follows the journey of a magical and beautiful Greek muse, Kira, who descends from the heavens of Mt. Olympus to Venice Beach, California on a quest to inspire a struggling artist, Sonny, to achieve the greatest artistic creation of all time – the first ROLLER DISCO! (Hey, it’s 1980!) But, when Kira falls into forbidden love with the mortal Sonny, her jealous sisters take advantage of the situation and chaos abounds.
Spartanburg Little Theatre is located at the Chapman Cultural Center, 200 East Saint John St. in Spartanburg. Call (864) 542-2787 or visit chapmanculturalcenter.org.


patsy cline9) ALWAYS…PATSY CLINE – MILL TOWN PLAYERS
September 9 – October 9, 2016

Katie Rockwell revives the country diva behind crossover hits such as “Crazy,” “Sweet Dreams,”  “I Fall to Pieces,” “Walkin’ After Midnight” and some 23 other songs in this story written by Ted Swindley based on the epistolary friendship she maintained with a Houston, TX fan for the last two years of her life, which was cut tragically short at age 30 in a 1963 plane crash. The show’s title was inspired by Cline’s letters to Louise Seger (played by seasoned Upstate actor Cindy Mixon) which were signed “Love ALWAYS… Patsy Cline.” Musician husband Larry Rockwell leads the live band.
“Always…Patsy Cline” is directed by Will Ragland and runs Sept. 9 –Oct. 9, Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m. at the Historic Pelzer Auditorium, 214 Lebby Street in Pelzer. Tickets are only $10 reserved seating, $8 seniors and military, $7 students. Call (864)947-8000 or visit www.milltownplayers.org


hairspray glt
10) HAIRSPRAY: THE BROADWAY MUSICAL – GREENVILLE LITTLE THEATRE
June 2-25, 2017
A Modern Classic!! You can’t stop the beat in this big and bold musical about one girl’s inspiring dream to dance. The 1950s are out and change is in the air!   Hairspray, winner of 8 Tony Awards including Best Musical, is a family-friendly show piled bouffant high with laughter, romance, and deliriously tuneful songs. With a Book by Thomas Meehan & Mark O’Donnell
and Music & Lyrics by Marc Shaiman and a sure-fire fantastic cast, “Hairspray” will run for a robust four weeks next summer.
Greenville Little Theatre is located at 444 College St. in Greenville. Call (864) 233-6238 or visit www.greenvillelittletheatre.org

 


Million-Dollar-quartet11) MILLION DOLLAR QUARTET – CENTRE STAGE
July 20 – August 12, 2017

Million Dollar Quartet is the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical inspired by the true story of the famed recording session where Sam Phillips, the “Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll” brought together icons Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley for one unforgettable night. Flat Rock Playhouse was the first in our area to do this show by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott early this year, but Centre Stage consistently hires top-tier talent and I can already envision several guitar-playing actors in this show.
Centre Stage is located at 501 River St. in Greenville. Call (864) 233-6733 or visit http://www.centrestage.org


spring awakening warehouse
Photo by Cox Photography

12) SPRING AWAKENING – THE WAREHOUSE THEATREspring awakening warehouse May 19 – June 17, 2017
Deaf West Theatre’s ground-breaking Tony-nominated revival of Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik’s engrossing  “Spring Awakening” lead to a rebirth of sorts with a Wofford College production this past spring, and now the Upstate’s professional staging at The Warehouse Theatre next spring.

Directed by Jenna Tamisiea, co-founder of GLOW Lyric Theatre, this Tony Award winner for Best Musical is inspired by Frank Wedekind’s controversial 1891 play about adolescent love, the challenges of puberty, and the bonds of childhood friendships. The groundbreaking rock musical seamlessly merges past and present, underscoring the timelessness of adolescent angst and the universality of human passion. It’s musical storytelling at its finest!
The Warehouse Theatre is at 37 Augusta St. in Greenville. Call (864) 235-6948 or visit
http://www.warehousetheatre.com


the producers generic13) THE PRODUCERS – ASHEVILLE COMMUNITY THEATRE
August 18 – September 10, 2017

Okay, so we have to wait a year, but this musical is bound to be a hit under the direction of Jerry Crouch who helmed the hilarious “Young Frankenstein” and inspired “La Cage Aux Folles” last season. Based on the 1968 film with a Book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, and Music and Lyrics by Mel Brooks. The plot is simple: a down-on-his-luck Broadway producer and his mild-mannered accountant come up with a scheme to produce the most notorious flop in history thereby bilking their backers (all “little old ladies”) out of millions of dollars. Only one thing goes awry: the show is a smash hit!
Asheville Community Theatre is located at 35 East Walnut St. in Asheville, NC. Call (828) 254-1320 or visit http://www.ashevilletheatre.org/


Jekyll-and-Hyde14) JEKYLL & HYDE THE MUSICAL – CENTRE STAGE
October 20 – November 12, 2016
Based on the story by Robert Louis Stevenson, this musical phenomenon plays throughout the Halloween holiday and depicts the epic struggle between good and evil. “Jekyll & Hyde,” an evocative tale of one man torn in two, and the women in love with both angel and devil, features a thrilling score of pop rock hits with Music by Frank Wildhorn and Book and Lyrics by Leslie Bricusse. Conceived for the stage by Steve Cuden & Frank Wildhorn.
Centre Stage is located at 501 River St. in Greenville. Call (864) 233-6733 or visit http://www.centrestage.org

And be sure to check out the FIREside Radio production of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” on October 31 at the Younts Center for Performing Arts, 315 North Main St. in Fountain Inn. Call (864) 409-1050 or visit http://www.yountscenter.org



saturday night fever charlotte15) SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER – THEATRE CHARLOTTE
September 9 – 25, 2016
Get out your “Boogie Shoes” as this mega-hit musical hit about Tony Manero, a humble paint store clerk by day, and stallion dance king by night. He lives for Saturday night at the disco where he falls under the spell of the disco beat and forgets the realities of his life, dead-end job and deadbeat friends. Based on the 1977 film, “Saturday Night Fever” takes you back to the bell bottoms, loose hips and irresistible groove of songs like “Stayin’ Alive,” “You Should be Dancing,” “How Deep is Your Love?” “More Than a “Woman,” “Disco Inferno,” and “If I Can’t Have Him.” Featuring songs by The Bee Gees, David Abbinanti, David Shire, Walter Murphy and Kool and the Gang.
Theatre Charlotte is located at 501 Queens Road in Charlotte, NC. Call (704) 376-3777 or visit http://www.theatrecharlotte.org.


 

spamalot slt16) MONTY PYTHON’S SPAMALOT – SPARTANBURG LITTLE THEATRE
May 5-14, 2017
“Lovingly ripped off” from the classic film Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this Tony Award-winning Broadway smash serves up a delightfully outrageous take on the tale of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and their legendary quest for the holy grail.  You’ll enjoy some mostly handsome Knights, a bevy of beautiful show girls, not to mention cows, killer rabbits, and French people, before the familiar sound of clomping coconut shells brings down the curtain on one of the stage’s goofiest comic delights.
Spartanburg Little Theatre is located at the Chapman Cultural Center, 200 East Saint John St. in Spartanburg. Call (864) 542-2787 or visit chapmanculturalcenter.org.


Sweeney Todd17)  SWEENEY TODD THE DEMON BARBER OF FLEET STREET – ASHEVILLE COMMUNITY THEATRE AND ELECTRIC CITY PLAYHOUSE
October 7-30 and October 14-30, 2016
Billed as a musical thriller, “Sweeney Todd” is an unjustly exiled barber who returns to 19th century London in two productions seeking vengeance against the lecherous judge who framed him and ravaged his young wife and daughter. The twisted road to revenge leads Todd to the hilarious Mrs. Lovett, a proprietress of a failing pie shop, above which he opens a popular new barber practice. Mrs. Lovett’s luck sharply shifts when Todd’s thirst for revenge inspires the integration of an ingredient into her meat pies that has the people of London lining up, and the carnage has only just begun! Music & Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and Book by Hugh Wheeler.
Asheville Community Theatre’s “Sweeney Todd” is directed by Jerry Crouch and runs Oct. 7-30 at 35 East Walnut St. in Asheville, NC. Call (828) 254-1320 or visit http://www.ashevilletheatre.org/
Electric City Playhouse’s “Sweeney Todd” is directed Noah Taylor and runs Oct. 14-30, 2016 at 514 North Murray Ave. in Anderson. Call (864) 224-4248 or visit http://www.ecplayhouse.com.


ring of fire slt18) RING OF FIRE: THE MUSIC OF JOHNNY CASH – SPARTANBURG LITTLE THEATRE
January 13-22, 2017
From the iconic songbook of Johnny Cash comes this unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and home and family. More than two dozen classic hits—including “I Walk The Line,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and the title tune—performed by a multi-talented cast, paint a musical portrait of The Man in Black that promises to be a foot-stompin’, crowd-pleasin’ salute to a uniquely American legend!
Spartanburg Little Theatre is located at the Chapman Cultural Center, 200 East Saint John St. in Spartanburg. Call (864) 542-2787 or visit chapmanculturalcenter.org.


little shop fire19) LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS – FIRE THEATRE COMPANY
October 7-16, 2016
A deviously delicious Broadway and Hollywood sci-fi smash musical, “Little Shop Of Horrors” has devoured the hearts of theatre goers for over 30 years. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken are the creative geniuses behind what has become one of the most popular shows in the world. The meek floral assistant Seymour Krelborn stumbles across a new breed of plant he names “Audrey II” – after his coworker crush. This foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore promises unending fame and fortune to the down and out Krelborn as long as he keeps feeding it, BLOOD. Featuring a live band and a lavish look, this exciting kick off to FIRE’s season is a creepy fun musical just in time for Halloween.
FIRE Theatre Company performs at the Younts Center for Performing Arts, 315 North Main St. in Fountain Inn, SC. Call (864) 409-1050 or visit http://www.yountscenter.org


quilters20) QUILTERS: A MUSICAL – NEWBERRY COMMUNITY PLAYERS
June 9-10, 2017
“Quilters” is a musical with a book by Molly Newman and Barbara Damashek, and lyrics and music by Barbara Damashek. It is about a pioneer woman and her daughters who record the family’s hardships and joys in the exquisite quilts they make. Based on the book “The Quilters:Women and Domestic Art” by Patricia Cooper and Norma Bradley Allen.
The Newberry Community Players perform at The Ritz, 1511 Main St. in Newberry. Call (803) 276-1963 or visit TICKETS.


beehive flat rock21) BEEHIVE, THE 60’S MUSICAL – FLAT ROCK PLAYHOUSE
October 13-30, 2016
From Lesley Gore to Aretha Franklin and everyone in between, “Beehive the 60’s Musical” is a celebration of the great female vocalists of that decade and features such music as “It’s My Party,” “My Boyfriend’s Back,” “Where the Boys Are,” “Proud Mary” and “Respect.” With a book by Larry Gallagher. Flat Rock Playhouse Mainstage is located at 2661 Greenville Highway in Flat Rock, NC. Call (828) 693-0731 or visit http://www.FlatRockPlayhouse.org


hank williams clemson22) HANK WILLIAM: LOST HIGHWAY – CLEMSON LITTLE THEATRE
June 2-11, 2017
Hank  Williams’  “LostHighway” serves  classic  country  with  the  edges  raw  and  the  energy  hot….Bythe  end  of  the  play,  you’ve  traveled  on  a  profound  emotional  journey  of  this  legendary  singer/songwriter  through  his  incredible  music.  “Lost Highway” follows  Williams’  rise  from  his  beginnings on  the  Louisiana  Hayride  to  his  triumphs  on  the  Grand  Ole  Opry  to  his  eventual  self-destruction  at 29. Written by Randal Myler and Mark Harelik and directed by Jimmy O. Burdette.
Performances are at the Clemson-Pendleton Playhouse, 214 S. Mechanic St. in Pendleton, SC. Call (864) 646-8100 or visit http://www.clemsonlittletheatre.com/

 

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