Way Off Broadway to Celebrate 20 Years of Entertainment in 2014
The 2014 Season marks a landmark for one of the region's most established and respected theatre organizations. With the opening of Rodgers & Hammerstein's classic The Sound of Music on January 17, 2014, The Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre will kick off its Platinum Anniversary Season, celebrating 20 years of bringing live, first class entertainment to the stage.
It was 1995 when The Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre first opened its doors. Located on the Golden Mile in Frederick, the theatre first opened as Keynote Dinner Theatre in 1990. It was the partnership of Bear Warfield, Pete Peterson, and Jim Watkins that renamed the theatre Way Off Broadway which, to this day, remains the Frederick area's only year round professional producing theatre. In 1996, Way Off Broadway expanded and opened its one-of-a-kind Children's Theatre, ensuring entertainment for all ages. With the 2002 Season, Way Off Broadway was acquired by the Kiska Family and began another phase of expanding its productions and operations. With a growing demand for quality youth theatre classes, the Way Off Broadway Actors' Studio was formed, giving young actors and actresses the opportunity to learn about theatre and performing.
Each season, Way Off Broadway's Mainstage produces five Broadway-style productions. Over the years, shows such as 42nd Street, Damn Yankees, Oliver!, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, The King & I, Annie, Steel Magnolias, Guys & Dolls, Nunsense, Oklahoma!, Grease, Fiddler on the Roof, A Chorus Line, The Sound of Music, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Evita, CATS, The Full Monty, All Shook Up, South Pacific, Hairspray, Jekyll & Hyde, and Legally Blonde have all found homes at the Frederick Theatre.
Way Off Broadway has also become known, and has made a name for itself, by producing regional and area premiere productions. These include the first time Frederick productions of Neil Simon's The Goodbye Girl - The Musical, Jerry Herman's La Cage aux Folles, Mel Brooks' The Producer, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Drowsy Chaperone, Dolly Parton's 9 to 5: The Musical, and Andrew Lloyd Webber's Sunset Boulevard. In 2009, Way Off Broadway was also one of the very first theatres in the country to receive the rights to produce a regional production of the musical comedy The Wedding Singer.
With each production running from two to two and a half months at a time, the lights are always burning at the theatre with a show that is already open and running or one that is in rehearsals. In fact, as one season opens, the next season is already in the planning stages.
For the 2014 Season, Way Off Broadway's audiences were asked through a survey what types of shows they would like to see during the theatre's Platinum Anniversary Season. The reaction was overwhelming and the votes rolled in. With that, Way Off Broadway's producers went to work crafting a blockbuster season.
The 20th Anniversary Season will transport audiences around the world and back again from the mountains of Austria in The Sound of Music to the Golden Age of Hollywood in Singin' in the Rain, from the barricades of Revolutionary France in the international blockbuster Les Miserables to the wild-west adventures of Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun. The season will also include a special limited engagement 20th Anniversary Revue and conclude with It's Christmas, a singing and dancing extravaganza to celebrate holidays.
"Our 2014 Mainstage Season is a blockbuster," says Bill Kiska, Way Off Broadway's Executive Producer & Chief Executive Officer. "We wanted to put together an amazing line-up of shows for our 20th anniversary and we think we have done just that. We've had such an unbelievable reaction from our audiences since we announced next year's productions. It's going to be Way Off Broadway's biggest and best year yet."
The Mainstage is only part of Way Off Broadway's operations. The Children's Theatre is also gearing up from a wonderful 2014 Season of its own. Two years ago, Way Off Broadway revamped its Children's Theatre. In the beginning, the Children's Theatre at Way Off Broadway became known for its original musical adaptations of popular children's fairytales. Beginning with the 2012 Season, Way Off Broadway began shifting its productions from its own original shows to stage adaptations of popular movies and books like Disney's Cinderella and Pinkalicious - The Musical.
Since it first opened, the Way Off Broadway Children's Theatre has become one of the most popular destination for Girl Scout and Brownie Troops, children's birthday parties, and families just looking for a fun-filled weekend activity.
The Children's Theatre will open the year with Tilly the Trickster, a show based on the popular children's book by Saturday Night Live star Molly Shannon, followed in the spring by the swash-buckling adventure, How I Became a Pirate. The fall will see the return of Disney to Way Off Broadway with Disney's Alice in Wonderland. Then, for the holidays, Way Off Broadway will bring back its original production of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas.
Over the last twenty years, The Way Off Broadway Dinner Theatre has seen a great number of changes. Production sizes and values have increased, performance schedules have expanded, and audiences have grown. In 2013 alone, 40% of Way Off Broadway's audience came from outside of Frederick County. At any given performance, there are guests from Northern Virginia, Montgomery County, West Virginia, and Carroll and Washington Counties.
"Way Off Broadway's 2014 Season is setting the stage for the future of the theatre," says Kiska. "It's had a great first twenty years, but now it is time to start looking to the next twenty."
For information about Way Off Broadway or any of its productions, as well as behind the scenes information on the theatre, visit www.wayoffbroadway.com or contact the theatre directly as (301) 662-6600.