The puzzle is solved! After five weeks of Facebook teasers and lots of playful guesses by our devoted fans, on Tuesday, Jan. 30 at our semi-annual members’ meeting, South Bay Musical Theatre finally unveiled the shows that will anchor our 2018-2019 season. Without further ado, they are: Mame, Big River, and Thoroughly Modern Millie.
All three of these shows are well-known, perennial staples in community theater circles, and consistently attract sell-out crowds when they are performed well. But for those of you who want more details, here’s a quick summary…
- Mame, which opened on Broadway in 1966 starring Angela Lansbury, with music and lyrics by Jerry Herman (Hello Dolly, La Cage aux Folles) is set in New York City and spans the Great Depression and World War II. This bubbly musical focuses on eccentric bohemian Mame Dennis, whose fabulous life with her wealthy friends is interrupted when her orphaned nephew arrives to live with her. They cope with adversity in a series of hilarious madcap adventures and leave the audience feeling happy and optimistic, humming tunes such as “We Need a Little Christmas” and “Bosom Buddies.” SBMT has enlisted Diane Milo to serve as Director, following her successful oversight of last fall’s acclaimed The Bridges of Madison County, SBMT’s first TBA-Recommended production. Walter Mayes will serve as producer.
- Big River, based on Mark Twain’s classic 1884 novel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, features bluegrass-infused music by country superstar Roger Miller. This show ran on Broadway in the eighties for more than 1,000 performances, and is viewed as one of very few successful American musicals during a decade that was dominated by British imports. The themes of prejudice, greed, freedom, and personal salvation are as appropriate today as they were 134 years ago. Songs like “Gov’ment” and “Worlds Apart” offer satirical and poignant commentary on today’s highly divided political environment. The show will be directed by community theater veteran Doug Brook, and produced by Jay Steele.
- Thoroughly Modern Millie, based on the 1967 film of the same name starring Julie Andrews, Mary Tyler Moore, and Carol Channing. This show hit Broadway in 2000 after several workshops starring Kristin Chenoweth, but it was understudy Sutton Foster who got her big break when Kristin left the role to do a TV sitcom. Millie is the age-old tale of the small-town girl who comes to New York—this time to marry for money. She gets caught up in the flapper lifestyle, meets some deliciously dangerous characters, and engages in a lot of song and dance. Because the show is so dance-intensive, in fact, SBMT has recruited multi-talented director and choreographer Lee Ann Payne to helm the production.
Our fall survey of members revealed that while many of you enjoy newer productions like those in our current season, there is still a deep nostalgia for the classics of Broadway’s golden age. These three selections cover a wide gamut of the Broadway canon, with one from the sixties (Mame), one from the eighties (Big River), and a third that was adapted for the Broadway stage in 2000 (Thoroughly Modern Millie). All were highly acclaimed, netting a total of 17 Tony Awards and 13 other Tony nominations!
In addition to our season announcement, the SBMT Board honored the following persons with service awards:
- Carol Srigley “Heart of SBMT” Award: House Manager Diane Hughes
- Fred Hassett “Future Growth” Award: Production Manager Sara Dean
- Silver Jacket Awards: Diane Milo, Richard Cartwright, Braden Taylor, Marty McHan, Sam Cisneros, and Mae Matos
Entertainment was handled by SBMT newbies and veterans, with Matthew Hall and James Creer opening the evening with a medley from Big River. Seph Ariel and Jenni Chandler performed a scene from Peter and the Starcatcher, then Juanita Harris wowed the crowd with her rendition of “If He Walked Into My Life” from Mame—accompanied by Bob Sunshine on the piano. Michael Saenz and Lee Ann Payne performed a lively, high-kicking tap number from Thoroughly Modern Millie. And Walter Mayes and David Mister closed the presentations with a hilarious rendition of “Bosom Buddies” from Mame. SBMT Chairperson Barbara Heninger and Walter Mayes (who leads the season selection subcommittee) were the evening’s “emcees.”
Congratulations to those of you who correctly guessed one or more of the shows from the clues we’ve been sharing—especially if you were eagle-eyed enough to notice that the jigsaw puzzle pieces illustrating our last clue were taken from the show’s posters, pictured above in their glorious entirety!