BWW Previews: Derby Dinner Playhouse Celebrates 40th Anniversary
Derby Dinner Playhouse is celebrating a milestone by looking to its past, present and future.
One of Kentuckiana's longest-running entertainment venues celebrates its 40th anniversary with its 2014-2015 season, featuring a calendar full of regional premieres, two returning audience favorites and new ground being broken - quite literally.
The mainstage season will feature six premieres, as well as two shows brought back by audience demand: the Christmastime favorite "It's a Wonderful Life" and the stage adaptation of the classic film musical "Seven Brides For Seven Brothers."
The other selections feature shows targeted at selected demographics within Derby Dinner's audience, a strategy that has served the playhouse well over its history, said Bekki Jo Schneider, Derby Dinner's co-owner.
"We read and look at shows all year long. Then we ask the customer: 'Here's the ones we can get. What do you want to see?'" she said. "So, really, the audience chooses."
Along with serving current customers, Derby Dinner is making moves to set itself up for the future with a brand-new rehearsal and classroom space opening in June on a block near the theater building.
The space will serve the growing Performing Arts Academy education program run by Tina Jo Wallace at Derby Dinner. Derby Dinner offers a five-week musical theater camp in the summer and intermittent classes throughout the year.
"What's great is we're having a lot of kids come just because they want to have an acting class, and they've never even been to the theater," Wallace said. "A lot of my summer registrations are brand-new. But then they'll do a class with us, and they want to see us in the shows, so they'll come and see the shows. In that way, we're building the next generation of patrons as well."
The new space will open in June.
Beyond stage and classroom offerings, the playhouse will feature updated amenities such as a redeveloped bar and lounge area for its 8,800 season subscribers, along with a wine club and special anniversary "shooters."
"We're doing little things we don't always do," Schneider said. "That's our main focus on this season."
"Cash on Delivery": a fast-paced comedy about a con artist who has duped the welfare authorities for years by claiming every type of benefit for the people he claims live at his address. The tables are turned when the welfare investigators show up asking questions. May 20-June 29.
"Mary Poppins": coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the classic Disney film, the Broadway musical based on both the film and the original books by P.L. Travers brings such classics as "Chim-Chim Cher-ee" and "Step in Time" to the stage. June 1-August 17.
"A Mighty Fortress is Our Basement": the fourth installment in the popular "Church Basement Ladies" series, based on the humorous scrapbook memoir "Growing Up Lutheran" by Janet Letnes Martin and Suzann Nelson, finds the titular ladies facing new challenges with their faith, friendships and hilarious Midwestern charm. August 19-October 5.
"The Game's Afoot": a comedy/thriller in which an actor renowned for playing Sherlock Holmes finds himself doing the job for real when one of his fellow cast members is stabbed to death. October 7-November 16.
"A Wonderful Life": Frank Capra's classic holiday film brought to the stage tells the tale of the fall and redemption of George Bailey and how one man's life can make a difference. November 18-December 31.
"Skin Deep": a warm-hearted romantic comedy about a lovable - and large - woman who gives romance one last shot on a blind date. January 6-February 15.
"Bonnie & Clyde": a thrilling story of America's most notorious criminal duo, set to a full musical score featuring blue, gospel and rockabilly styles. February 17-March 29.
"Seven Brides for Seven Brothers": an all-out dance extravaganza, adapting the classic 1954 MGM movie musical for the stage. March 31-May 10.
Children's Musical Theater Series
"Princess Penelope's Dragon": a precocious princess blames her misbehavior on her dragon in this world premiere musical take on "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." May 24, 31 and June 7, 14 and 21.
"Dinosaurs Before Dark": audiences will find themselves transported back to the times of the dinosaurs in an adaptation of the Magic Tree House fantasy adventure book series. October 11, 28, 25 and November 1 and 15.
"Rupolph!": a musical treasure about a young misfit reindeer who only wants to fit in. Featuring Santa Claus at every performance. November 22, 28, 29 and December 6, 13, and 20.
For tickets, showtimes and more information, call 812.288.8281 or go to www.derbydinner.com.
From This Author Todd Zeigler