- June–July 2019
Mame is a musical with the book by Jerome Lawrence and Robert Edwin Lee and music and lyrics by Jerry Herman. Originally titled My Best Girl, it is based on the 1955 novel Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis and a 1956 Broadway play, by Lawrence and Lee, that starred Rosalind Russell. Set in New York and spanning the Great Depression and World War II, it focuses on eccentric bohemian, Mame Dennis, whose famous motto is "Life is a banquet and most poor sons of bitches are starving to death." Her fabulous life with her wealthy friends is interrupted when the young son of her late brother arrives to live with her. They cope with the Depression in a series of adventures.
In 1958, a film titled Auntie Mame, based on the play, was released by Warner Brothers once again starring Rosalind Russell in the title role. Russell was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe for her portrayal.
The musical opened on Broadway in 1966, starring Angela Lansbury and Beatrice Arthur. The production became a hit and spawned a 1974 film with Lucille Ball in the title role and Arthur reprising her supporting role, as well as a London production, a Broadway revival, and a 40th anniversary revival at the Kennedy Center in 2006.
- February 2019
The Comedy of Errors is one of William Shakespeare's earliest plays. It is his shortest and one of his most farcical comedies, with a major part of the humour coming from slapstick and mistaken identity, in addition to puns and word play. The Comedy of Errors is one of only two of Shakespeare's plays to observe the classical unities. It has been adapted for opera, stage, screen and musical theatre.
The Comedy of Errors tells the story of two sets of identical twins that were accidentally separated at birth. Antipholus of Syracuse and his servant, Dromio of Syracuse, arrive in Ephesus, which turns out to be the home of their twin brothers, Antipholus of Ephesus and his servant, Dromio of Ephesus. When the Syracusans encounter the friends and families of their twins, a series of wild mishaps based on mistaken identities lead to wrongful beatings, a near-seduction, the arrest of Antipholus of Ephesus, and false accusations of infidelity, theft, madness, and demonic possession.
- October–November 2018
Mother Courage and Her Children is a play written in 1939 by the German dramatist and poet Bertolt Brecht with significant contributions from Margarete Steffin. After four very important theatrical productions in Switzerland and Germany from 1941 to 1952—the last three supervised and/or directed by Brecht—the play was filmed several years after Brecht's death in 1959/1960 with Brecht's widow and leading actress, Helene Weigel.
Mother Courage is considered by some to be the greatest play of the 20th century, and perhaps also the greatest anti-war play of all time.
- September 2018
Little Shop of Horrors is a comedy horror rock musical, by composer Alan Menken and writer Howard Ashman, about a hapless florist shop worker who raises a plant that feeds on human blood and flesh. The musical is based on the low-budget 1960 black comedy film The Little Shop of Horrors, directed by Roger Corman. The music, composed by Menken in the style of early 1960s rock and roll, doo-wop and early Motown, includes several well-known tunes, including the title song, "Skid Row", "Somewhere That's Green", and "Suddenly, Seymour".
In addition to the original long-running 1982 off-Broadway production and subsequent Broadway production, the musical has been performed all over the world. Because of its small cast and relatively simple orchestrations, it has become popular with community theatre, school and other amateur groups. The musical was also made into a 1986 film of the same name, directed by Frank Oz.
- August 2018
The Rocky Horror Show is a musical with music, lyrics and a book by Richard O'Brien. A humorous tribute to the science fiction and horror B movies of the late 1940s through early 1970s, the musical tells the story of a newly engaged couple getting caught in a storm and coming to the home of a mad transvestite scientist unveiling his new creation, a muscle man named Rocky Horror.
Produced and directed by Jim Sharman, the original London production of the musical premiered at the Royal Court Theatre on 19 June 1973 before moving to several other locations and closing on 13 September 1980, running for a total of 2,960 performances and winning the 1973 Evening Standard Award for Best Musical. Its 1974 debut in the US in Los Angeles had a successful 9 month run but its 1975 Broadway debut lasted only 3 previews and 45 showings despite gaining 1 Tony nomination and 3 Drama Desk nominations. Various international productions have since spanned across 6 of the world's continents as well as West End and Broadway revivals and 8 UK tours.
The musical has since developed a cult following and was also adapted into the 1975 film The Rocky Horror Picture Show, which today has a worldwide cult following and has the longest-running release in film history. The musical was ranked 8th in a BBC Radio 2 listener poll of the "Nation's Number One Essential Musicals".
- June 2018
South Pacific is a musical composed by Richard Rodgers, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and book by Hammerstein and Joshua Logan. The work premiered in 1949 on Broadway and was an immediate success, running for 1,925 performances. The story is based on James A. Michener's Pulitzer Prize-winning 1947 book Tales of the South Pacific, combining elements of several of the stories in that book. Rodgers and Hammerstein believed that they could write a work based on Michener's stories that would be financially successful and, at the same time, send a strong progressive message on racism.
The plot centers on an American nurse stationed at a U.S. Naval base on a South Pacific island during World War II who falls in love with an expatriate French plantation owner but struggles to accept his mixed-race children. A secondary romance, between a U.S. lieutenant and a young Tonkinese woman, explores his fears of the social consequences should he marry his Asian sweetheart. The issue of racial prejudice is candidly explored throughout the musical, most controversially in the lieutenant's song, "You've Got to Be Carefully Taught". Supporting characters, including a comic petty officer and the Tonkinese girl's mother, help to tie the stories together. Due to his lack of knowledge of the military, Hammerstein had difficulty in writing that part of the text; the director of the original production, Logan, assisted him and received credit as co-writer of the book, but Logan always felt that he was underpaid for his contribution.
- May 2018
Rent is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Jonathan Larson based on Giacomo Puccini's opera La bohème. It tells the story of a group of impoverished young artists and musicians struggling to survive and create in New York's Lower East Side in the thriving days of Bohemian Alphabet City, under the shadow of HIV/AIDS.
The musical was first seen in a limited three-week workshop production at New York Theatre Workshop in 1994. This same off-Broadway theatre was also the musical's initial home following its official January 25, 1996 opening. The show's creator, Jonathan Larson, died suddenly the night before the off-Broadway premiere. The show won a Pulitzer Prize, and the production was a hit. The musical moved to Broadway's larger Nederlander Theatre on April 29, 1996.
On Broadway, Rent gained critical acclaim and won a Tony Award for Best Musical among other awards. The Broadway production closed on September 7, 2008 after a 12-year run of 5,123 performances, the ninth longest-running Broadway show at the time. The production grossed over $280 million.
The success of the show led to several national tours and numerous foreign productions. In 2005 it was adapted into a motion picture that features most of the original cast members.
- April 2018
A Chorus Line is a musical with music by Marvin Hamlisch, lyrics by Edward Kleban and a book by James Kirkwood, Jr. and Nicholas Dante. Centred on seventeen Broadway dancers auditioning for spots on a chorus line, the musical is set on the bare stage of a Broadway theatre during an audition for a musical. A Chorus Line provides a glimpse into the personalities of the performers and the choreographer as they describe the events that have shaped their lives and their decisions to become dancers.
Following several workshops and an Off-Broadway production, A Chorus Line opened on Broadway on July 25, 1975, directed and choreographed by Buffalo native Michael Bennett. An unprecedented box office and critical hit, the musical received 12 Tony Award nominations and won 9 of them, in addition to the 1976 Pulitzer Prize for Drama.
The original Broadway production ran for 6,137 performances, becoming the longest-running production in Broadway history until surpassed by Cats in 1997, and the longest-running Broadway musical originally produced in the US, until surpassed in 2011 by Chicago. It remains the sixth longest-running Broadway show ever. Its success has spawned many successful productions worldwide. It began a lengthy run in the West End in 1976 and was revived on Broadway in 2006. The current West End revival opened in 2013.