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Thursday, May 22, 2014 12:01 am

Regional theater offers summer options galore

Get happy feet with Footloose at New Salem’s Theatre in the Park in June.


As ever, area theater companies are putting their best feet forward this summer, offering a large variety of productions, running the gamut from Disney to Mel Brooks, from historical drama to operetta, from horror to comedy, from epics to miniatures. Rest assured, if you find yourself itching to take in a theatrical production over the next few months, there will be scratching options aplenty.

New Salem’s Theatre in the Park will start off its season with two very different stories of constrained adolescence, following up the attic-bound heroine in The Diary of Anne Frank (May 30 and 31, June 1, 5, 6 and 7) with the dance-deprived kids of the somewhat more upbeat Footloose on June 20, 21, 22, 26, 27 and 28. On July 12 there will be a staged reading of a new play based on Beverly Fisher’s Civil War-set novella Grace Among the Leavings; next, The Music Man, complete with all 76 trombones and a working knowledge of the territory, will run on July 18, 19, 20, 24, 25 and 26; Mr. Lincoln, reportedly based on the life of an obscure 19th century U.S. president, will play on Aug. 8, 9, 28 and 29; concurrently, labor-dispute themed musical The Pajama Game is set for Aug. 15, 16, 17, 21, 22 and 23, followed by the season-ending TIP fundraiser concert, “A Night of Stars” on Aug. 30. For tickets call 632-5440 or visit www.theatreinthepark.net.

The Muni Opera’s 2014 season will kick off with the adventures of the perennially irrepressible Von Trapp family in The Sound of Music on June 13-14, 19-21 and 26-28; soon after, Shakespeare (Twelfth Night, specifically) will receive a 1950s-style musical makeover in All Shook Up (July 11-12, 17-19, 26-28); everyone’s favorite donkey-fraternizing ogre, Shrek, will take the stage on Aug. 8-9, 14-16 and 21-23; and finally, the very nature of good and evil will get the musical theater treatment in Jekkyl & Hyde, Sept. 5-6, 11-13 and 18-20. For tickets to these shows or more information call 793-MUNI (6864) or visit www.themuni.org.

Get ready for the ’20s to roar once again in The Legacy Theatre’s big summer production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, June 20-22 and 25-29; for the kids, be sure to pencil in the “Summer Snow Party” featuring a screening of Disney’s Frozen complete with costumes and singalongs as well as snow cones and other beat-the-heat activities, all happening July 19 and July 20 (with a special autism-spectrum-friendly version of the party on July 20 at 1 p.m.); on Aug. 9, The Literary Underground’s “This Is Poetry” tour will make a stop at the Legacy, one of only eight such events nationwide. For more information call 1-800-838-3006 or visit www.atthelegacy.com.

The Legacy Theatre stays up to date this summer with a production of Thoroughly Modern Millie.

Little Theatre on the Square in Sullivan will begin its summer season with the Great Depression-era fun of 42nd Street on June 4-15 (running concurrently with Cinderella, June 6, 7, 10, 12, 13 and 14); next up, the songs of Roger “King of the Road” Miller will mix with the storytelling of Samuel “Mark Twain” Clemens for the Huckleberry Finn-based musical Big River, June 18-29; and since you can’t have enough Sound of Music, the Little Theatre’s iteration will run July 16-27. For details and tickets, contact the box office at 217-728-7375 or visit www.thelittletheatre.org.

The Jacksonville Theatre Guild is prepared to offer up a pair of big and brassy but otherwise very different productions this summer, beginning with interactive youth comedy The Big Bad Musical (July 18-20 and 25-27); and the biggest and brassiest show of all, Give My Regards to Broadway (Aug. 14-17 and 21-24). For ticket information contact 217-245-1402 or visit www.jaxtg.com.

As always, there are numerous musical and theatrical events scheduled at the Hoogland Center for the Arts this season. Highlights include the dramatic Agnes of God July 11-19; the comedic Greater Tuna, Aug. 8-17; and Gilbert and Sullivan’s always hysterical Mikado on Aug. 22-31. For information and tickets call 217-523-ARTS (2787) or visit www.hcfta.org

About 60 miles south, as the theatrically enthusiastic crow flies, the St. Louis Muny will present Elton John’s toe-tapping Billy Elliot (June 16-22); then, maintaining the British rock star theme, the Phil Collins-scored Tarzan will swing from June 25-July 2; winding back the clock, George and Ira Gershwin will get their licks in with an acclaimed revival of Porgy and Bess, July 7-13; the altogether ooky Addams Family will play July 14-20, perfect fare for the precious little Wednesday or Pugsley in your life; a certain cat in a certain hat is bound to wreak all kinds of whimsical havoc in Seussical, July 22-28; if Grease is the one that you want on (oh) those summer nights, be sure to reserve seats July 31-Aug. 8; finally, the 50th anniversary production of the classic Hello Dolly will close out the season Aug. 11-17. For tickets call 314-361-1900 or visit www.muny.org.

At the Peoria Eastlight Theater, a spoonful of sugar won’t be required to help the musical go down at the regional premier of Mary Poppins, June 20-28, although the pies served up by barbaric Victorian barber Sweeney Todd (Aug. 1-9) might prove to be somewhat less appetizing; the hilarious Mel Brooks musical monstrosity Young Frankenstein (pronounced, of course, fronken-steen) will also make its regional premier this season (Sept. 12-20). Get tickets by calling 309-699-SHOW (7469) or visit www.eastlighttheatre.com.

For those with an appetite for more cutting edge dramatic fair, Urbana’s Krannert Center for the Performing Arts will be presenting Tarell Alvin McCraney’s acclaimed Louisiana-set, West Africa-derived drama The Brothers Size by (May 29-June 1) as well as the New Short Play Festival (June 11-14) which will feature Evening News by Aaron Carter; Seward, Kansas by Matthew-Lee Erlbach; Pigeons, Sharks, and Vixens by Matthew-Lee Erlbach; Blackie’s Funeral by Paco Jose Madden; Stepping Out by Damir Konjicija and Leah Williams; A Taurian Tale… also by McCraney; Just Suppose by Tucker Rafferty; The Space Behind Your Heart by Steven Simoncic. For tickets and information, visit KrannertCenter.com or call 217/333-6280.

Scott Faingold is a staff writer for Illinois Times and can be reached via sfaingold@illinoistimes.com.

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