An abundance of exciting and fun theater takes place on area stages this summer. It is interesting to see how summer theater fare has changed in recent years. In years past, summer theater was all comedies and musicals. Those are still with us, but there is quite a list of new and little-known works, as well as classic drama: Apartment 3A; Ibsen’s A Doll’s House; new musicals Cowgirls, Altar Boyz and The Light in the Piazza; a world premiere: Yearning to Breathe Free; and a new work by area musician Mark Mathewson at New Salem. Below is a sampling of area offerings:
Hoogland Center for the Arts
Sixth and Capitol, downtown Springfield
- Apartment 3A (June 4-6), a modern adult romantic comedy by film and stage actor Jeff Daniels about a heartbroken PBS fundraiser who has trouble meeting Mr. Right.
- Grease: The School Edition (June 9-11 and 16-18)
- A Doll’s House (Aug. 13-15 and 20-22), classic 1879 play by Ibsen.
- Chicago (Aug. 28-29 and Sept. 3-5)
For ticket information call 523-2787 or go to www.scfta.org.
The outdoor theater at Lake Springfield
- Seussical (June 11-13 and 16-20) – a musical from Dr. Seuss!
- Into the Woods (July 2-3 and 6-11) – the musical about what happens after “they lived happily ever after.”
- Jesus Christ Superstar (July 23-25 and 28-Aug. 1).
- Annie (Aug. 13-15 and 18-22).
For ticket information call 793-MUNI or go to www.themuni.org.
Theatre in the Park
The outdoor theater at New Salem
- Cowgirls (June 4-6 and 10-13) – a hilarious new musical in which a classical music troupe is mistakenly contracted to play at a country-western bar.
- Yearning to Breathe Free (June 24-27) – world premiere by Springfield playwright Tara McClellan McAndrew, (Illinois Times history columnist) that follows the lives of several immigrants and their journey to Ellis Island.
- The Light in the Piazza (July 16-18 and 22-25) – a luminous 2005 Tony-award musical based on the 1960 novella about a woman traveling in Italy with her daughter.
- Rick and Laura Hall (July 30) – A family-friendly storytelling show, which includes the award-winning short film Slice of Pie. You will recognize Rick from many roles in television and film and Laura is best known as the band leader on Drew Carey’s “Whose Line Is It Anyway?”
- Carousel (Aug. 6-8 and 12-15).
- Dividing the Estate (Aug. 20-22 and 27-28) Midwest premiere of a comedy by the late Horton Foote (Trip to Bountiful), about a gathering of three generations of a Texas family (performed in the indoor theater).
- New Salem Harmony (Sept. 3-4) – Mark Mathewson has been working on this story of New Salem for several years, featuring the words of Lincoln’s contemporaries, using some traditional and original music.
For ticket information, call 800-710-9290 or go to www.theatreinthepark.net.
Little Theatre on the Square
Central Illinois’ Equity theater, in Sullivan
- Show Boat (June 9-13 and 15-20)
- Smokey Joe’s Café (June 23-27 and 29-July 4)
- The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (July 7-11 and 13-18)
- Annie (July 21-25 and 27-Aug. 1)
- Hair (Aug. 4-8 and 10-15).
For ticket information call 217-728-7375 or go to www.thelittletheatre.org.
- An Evening with Lily Tomlin (June 13) – Tomlin’s first Springfield not-to-be-missed appearance. Tomlin is one of the few comedienne’s whose stand-up is also an incredible theater experience. Her memorable long-run Broadway performance in the 1980s of My Search for Intelligent Signs in the Universe won a Tony for best play.
For ticket information call 217-206-6160 or online www.sangamonauditorium.org.
Jacksonville Theatre Guild
- Altar Boyz, a musical comedy (July 22-25 and July 29-Aug. 1) – a fun and lighthearted musical, the hit off-Broadway show about a small-town Christian teen group that makes it big should be an audience-pleaser.
For ticket information call 217-245-1402 or e-mail email@example.com.
Illinois Shakespeare Festival
At Ewing Manor in Bloomington
- Three productions running in repertory at one of our state’s best theatres: (June 24-Aug. 8) - Shakespeare’s The Tempest and The Merry Wives of Windsor, along with a world premiere stage adaptation of Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers.
For ticket information call 309-438-2535 or online www.thefestival.org.
Vachel Lindsay Home Historic Site
603 S Fifth St., near the Governor’s Mansion
- The Yellow Wallpaper (June 4-5 and July 2-3) – a riveting “site-specific” theater piece based on the 1892 novella by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, featuring Aasne Vigesaa. The play is performed at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. each evening. Seating is limited. Do not miss this!
For ticket information call 524-0901.
Old State Capitol (downtown Springfield)
- Pam Brown portrays Mary Lincoln in two short plays by Ken Bradbury: Now and Forever (June 12, 19, July 3, 17, 31, Aug. 14) and Taking Leave (June 26, July 10, 24, Aug. 7), performed at 12 noon and 3:30 p.m. each day. Don and Linda Schneider will also be performing throughout the summer.
For schedule and ticket information call 785-7960.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, Sixth and Jefferson streets
- One Destiny (July 1, 2, 8-9, 22, 29, 30)
Call the ALPLM box office for ticket information 558-8934 or go to www.presidentlincoln.org.
Phil Funkenbusch is a theater fan who has been writing for Illinois Times for many years. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.