Summer Stages 2016: Rhode Island Summer Events
Co-Written by Rhode Island Contributing Editors Veronica Bruscini and Robert Barossi
Rhode Island theaters are gearing up for another sizzling summer season. Here's a look ahead at what's on stage in the Ocean State from June through August.
2nd Story Theatre plans three productions for the summer months. Starting things off is Mitch Albom's beloved memoir Tuesdays with Morrie, playing the DownStage theater in June and July. Harold and Maude opens the UpStage space in July, and the vaudevillian Sunshine Boys rounds out 2nd Story's program in August. For full details or to purchase tickets, visit www.2ndstorytheatre.com or contact the box office at (401) 247-4200.
At Artists' Exchange, audiences will have a number of entertaining options to choose from over the summer. In early-to-mid June, Epic Theatre Company is presenting The Penelopiad, written by Margaret Atwood and directed by OUT Loud's Artistic Director, Kira Hawkridge. In late June, the SantRiana Theatre Group is presenting a one-man play called The Last Sicilian, written and starring Nick Albanese, with dates throughout the summer. Another tradition is returning with the eleventh annual One-Act Play Festival from late July into the middle of August, and the summer ends with A Very Potter Musical, presented by the Sprocket Theatre. For more information, check out the Artists' Exchange website at www.artists-exchange.org.
Burbage Theatre Company hosts its second annual Big-Time Celebration at Aurora Providence on June 17. This year's event features performances by Burbage's resident acting company and live music by Triangle Forest. For tickets, visit www.burbagetheatre.org.
Hello Broadway! has become a summer tradition for the Community College of Rhode Island. This year's song-and-dance spectacular runs June 24-26 in the Bobby Hackett Theater at CCRI's Knight Campus (Warwick). Call (401) 825-1135 for tickets and be sure to visit www.ccri.edu/hellobroadway for full details on the Hello Broadway! program.
In Pawtucket, the Community Players will be presenting the audience favorite comic drama Steel Magnolias. Familiar to those who love the movie, the play deals with a group of women in Louisiana who deal with the trials and tribulations of life as they gossip at their local beauty shop. Performances run July 8th to the 17th, and more information is at their website, www.thecommunityplayers.net.
Counter-Productions Theatre Company will hold its 2016-17 season auditions on August 20. Visit www.cptcri.com for information and for a sneak peek at upcoming performances. The Counter-Productions team will also participate in the annual Season Kickoff festivities at Trinity Repertory Company in August (full details TBA - watch www.trinityrep.com for updates).
Kingston's Courthouse Center for the Arts has rockin' summer of song planned. In June, folk music legend Jonathan Edwards takes to the stage, followed by Eagles tribute band "Another Tequila Sunrise," Little Feat tribute "Sailin' Shoes," Doors tribute "Through the Doors," and songwriter Rita Coolidge. July's bookings include tributes to Santana, AC/DC, Elvis, and Frank Sinatra, as well as a special appearance by stand-up comedian Kevin Meaney. Visit www.courthousecenterstage.org for the complete schedule and for information on Courthouse's current/upcoming art exhibitions and classes for children and adults.
At the Gamm this summer, they will be holding their Gamm Summer Intensive, a professional theater training program for high school students. Campers, who will receive training focused on studying and performing Shakespeare, attend rehearsals and workshops taught by local theater professionals. This year, the camp participants will be performing two Shakespearean plays, King Richard the Third and Twelfth Night. Dates are in late July and more information on show times and tickets can be found at the Gamm's website, www.gammtheatre.org.
In June, Mixed Magic Theatre will be presenting Free Man of Color by Charles Smith, recipient of the 2004 Jefferson Award for Outstanding New Work. The play tells the story of an ex-slave who, after his master dies, finds freedom and ends up attending Ohio University, from which he graduates long before other slaves would have the chance. In fact, at the time he was only the fourth black man to graduate from a college in the U.S. and the first to do so in Ohio. More information is at the company's website, www.mmtri.com.
Ocean State Theatre Company has two musical productions ready to take the stage this summer. Damn Yankees is first at bat in July, followed by Avenue Q in August. OSTC will also host several special events, starting with Misgivings and CABaretFEST (featuring Karen Mason, Jim Caruso and Billy Stritch, and a Symposium Showcase) in June and comedian Rob Bartlett in July. In addition, Michelle Currie, Valerie Sneade, and Brian De Lorenzo are scheduled to perform at the OSTC Cabaret Club. OSTC's annual musical theater summer camp holds sessions in July and August. For tickets or for the Camp OSTC application, visit www.oceanstatetheatre.org.
The Providence Fringe Festival, produced by the Wilbury Theatre Group, is becoming a staple of the Providence summer arts scene. Venues have been added this year and include an eclectic mix, from the AS220 Black Box to Riverside Park. Even more eclectic is the exciting mix of performers who are already lined up for the festival, with more to be added. All the information for the 2016 festival, which runs from July 26th through the 30th, is online at www.fringepvd.org.
The Providence Performing Arts Center closes its regular season with If/Then, running June 14-19. Later in June, PPAC welcomes superstar Irish music group Celtic Woman back to Providence for the "Destiny" tour. Tickets are likely to sell out quickly when PPAC plays host to Rhode Island Monthly's annual Best of Rhode Island Party on July 21. Also in July, acclaimed violinist Lindsey Stirling brings her electrifying "modern classical" sound to the Veterans Auditorium. Visit www.ppacri.org for both PPAC and VETS tickets, or contact the box office at (401) 421-ARTS (2787).
Theatre by the Sea kicked off its season just last week with the opening of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story. Performances of Buddy play through mid-June, followed by West Side Story later in the month. The Wizard of Oz lands in Matunuck in July and Sister Act brings down the curtain in August. This summer's Children's Festival productions include Kaleidoscope Theatre's Snow White and Aladdin, a performance by Lucky Bob, Disney's Alice in Wonderland, Jr. (featuring Camp Theatre by the Sea participants); and Keith Michael Johnson's Bubbleology. Bistro by the Sea Cabaret performances run through early September. Of special note this year: TBTS now has air conditioning to keep audiences cool all summer long! For tickets, visit www.theatrebythesea.com or call the box office at (401) 782-TKTS (8587).
In addition to the planned August Season Kickoff (see above), Trinity Repertory Company will host its annual Young Actors Summer Institute (YASI) during the summer months. YASI lets young theater enthusiasts study with Trinity Rep's acting ensemble and resident artists, as well as Brown/Trinity Rep MFA graduate students and local working artists. The institute wraps up the summer with two performances at Trinity Rep. Elective sessions include Shakespeare, playwriting, musical theater, improvisation, and YouTube videos. Registration information and an online application are available at www.trinityrep.com.---
Pictured: CCRI's Hello Broadway!
Photo by Bert Silverberg