Previewing ICCT’s 2016-17 Season

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A scene from Psycho Beach Party, part of ICCT’s 2015-16 season

Iowa City – This is the first of series of articles that take a look at the upcoming seasons for the Corridor theatre companies. Today we’ll take a look at the granddaddy of local theatre companies, the Iowa City Community Theatre, founded in 1956.

You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown – September 9th–18th, 2016
Book, Music and Lyrics by Clark Gesner
Additional Dialogue by Michael Mayer
Additional Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Directed by Jaret Morlan

ICCT is bringing to stage the 1999 version of the musical, which features two new songs and the character of Sally replacing Patty (not Peppermint!) from the original 1967 musical. Kristin Chenoworth made a splash originating the role of Sally on Broadway, and even won a Tony for her work. This is a great show to open a season with. It’s full of characters we all know well and it’s light hearted with some fun songs. ICCT produced this show twice before – in 1983 and 2001. I saw the 2001 production, which featured Jeff Emrich as Charlie Brown and TJ Besler as Snoopy. Both were good, and Besler, in particular, stood out as an excellent Snoopy. However, I cannot remember if they did the original version or the 1999 version. Perhaps someone can remind me in the comments.

 

Dracula – October 21st–30th, 2016
By Steven Dietz
Directed by Christina Patramanis

This is, of course, based on Bram Stoker’s famous novel. If you’re wondering where you’ve heard the name Stephen Dietz before, it’s probably because he’s one of the most produced playwrights in the United States. Dreamwell has produced two of his shows in recent years – More Fun Than Bowling (2008) and Becky’s New Car (2014). TCR produced Still Life with Iris in 2010. And Riverside produced Private Eyes way back in 1998. Dracula is the perfect Halloween show – smart move by ICCT placing it in that slot of the season. This show is directed by Christina Patramanis, who directed a couple of Dreamwell shows: House of Yes and Time Stands Still.

George Washington Slept Here – December 2nd – 12th, 2016
By Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman
Directed by Rachael Lindhart

I know very little about this show, but as I said in a past article, if Rachael Lindhart wants to direct a show, you should just say yes. Apparently, ICCT agrees. The play was made into a movie with Jack Benny and Ann Sheridan. One fun fact I did find out about this comedy through a Google search… the University of Iowa produced it back in 1941. Yes, 1941. However, ICCT is not alone in producing this show in the near future. Texas, California and West Virginia will all also see productions of this show in the coming year or so. (How do I know? I use this excellent little tool on the Dramatists website which tells you all of the shows being produced.)

As You Like It – January 20th – 29th, 2017
By William Shakespeare
Directed by Jen Brown

If a community theatre is going to do a Shakespeare show, it’s important to get a director who knows and is passionate about the Bard. Fortunately, Jen Brown fits the bill. From their announcement: “One of William Shakespeare’s best loved comedies, As You Like It follows its heroine Rosalind as she flees persecution in her uncle’s court, accompanied by her cousin, Celia, to find safety and, eventually, love, in the Forest of Arden.” Rosalind is perhaps Shakespeare’s strongest female character. She’s smart, witty, brave and loyal. Shakespeare even gives Rosalind the final words of the play, an epilogue that she notes is unusual because women don’t usually get to end a show. It’s a great role and I can’t wait to see who is cast. And I’m excited to see what Jen does with this show. Take some risks, Jen!

Anything Goes – March 3rd – 12th, 2017
Music and Lyrics by Cole Porter Original Book by P.G. Wodehouse & Guy Bolton and Howard Lindsay & Russel Crouse
New Book by Timothy Crouse & John Weidman
Directed by Evan Hilsabeck & Joshua Holmes

One of the most famous musicals of all time, Cole Porter’s show has lots of memorable songs like I Get a Kick Out of You and Anything Goes. The great thing about Anything Goes is that fabulous Cole Porter music. I asked co-director Evan Hilsabeck about the show and he told me, “I’m especially looking forward to translating a production that was intended for lavish dance numbers and a large ship-sized stage to the more intimate setting of the ICCT theatre. There’s a kind of transition from something that’s “spectacle” in an over-size theatre to something that’s “magical” when you get in that close. Done well, I think that’s part of the joy of community theatre.” Hilsabeck knows a thing or two about good community theatre – he was the director of the Spencer Community Theatre before being hired as the managing director of the Coralville Center for the Performing Arts.

The Diary of Anne Frank – April 21st – 30th, 2017
By Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett
Newly adapted by Wendy Kesselman
Directed by Rachel Howell

ICCT has wisely chosen to present the adaptation by Wendy Kesselman. I had a chance to see this version in 2009 at Riverside Theatre. The late Mark Hunter, who directed the show, pointed out the differences in a Daily Iowan article:

The newer play restores (Anne) Frank’s hostility toward her mother, her developing sexuality, and the characters’ Jewish culture, all of which were edited out of the original.

Rachel Howell, who has directed a number of shows with Fourth Room as well as ICCT, should be able to present a moving production. And there are two great roles for teens! I’m really looking forward to this show.

So that’s the ICCT season. It’s an excellent mix of comedy and drama, musicals and straight plays. Be sure to check it out!

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