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Thursday, May 24, 2007 02:33 pm

Break a leg

Area theater venues offer something for everyone this summer

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Untitled Document Summer theaters are offering up the new, the old, and the tried-and-true, so there’s something for everyone on area stages this summer. Here are highlights: The Springfield Muni Opera has a big season that starts with the hit Broadway musical Miss Saigon (June 1-3, 6-10), followed by Peter Pan (June 22-24, June 27-July 1), Grease (July 13-15, 18-22) and Oklahoma! (Aug. 3-5, 8-12). Call 217-793-6864 or go to www.themuni.org for tickets. The Little Theatre on the Square, in Sullivan, offers a lineup of old and new shows, but the big news is the 50th-anniversary production, a concert version of the Stephen Sondheim musical Follies, featuring many stars from the theater’s heyday: Ann B. Davis, Bill Hayes and Susan Seaforth Hayes, Joan Roberts (the original Laurie in 1943’s Oklahoma!), Springfield’s Gus Gordon, Anna McNeeley, and many other performers from Sullivan’s long history. The show plays at 8 p.m. June 1, 4 and 8 p.m. June 2, and 2 p.m. June 3. The rest of the summer lineup includes the area regional-theater premiere of Hairspray (June 6-24), with Springfield’s Natalie Randall featured in the cast; My Fair Lady (June 27-July 8); Crazy for You (July 11-22); The Sound of Music (July 25-Aug. 5); and La Cage aux Folles (Aug. 8-19). Call 217-728-7375 or 888-261-9675 for tickets.
The Theatre in the Park, at New Salem, has Brigadoon (May 25-27 and May 31-June 3); Gypsy (June 15-17 and 21-24); The Miracle Worker (July 6-8 and 12-14); Once on This Island (July 20-22 and 26-29); Visiting the Lincolns (Aug. 3 and 4), featuring Chicago actors Michael Krebs and Debra Ann Miller; L’il Abner (Aug. 10-12 and 16-19) and The Trip to Bountiful (Aug. 24-26 and Aug. 30-Sept. 1). All performances begin at 8 p.m., with free preshow entertainment at 7 p.m. Call 217-632-5440 for tickets.
The Jacksonville Theatre Guild presents a stage adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird (June 1-3 and 8-10), followed by an original musical, titled David, You and I (about the Biblical character King David), with music by Roger Wainwright and a script by Ken Bradbury (Aug. 2-5 and 9-12). Shows are presented in the Sophie Leschin Theatre. Call 217-245-1402. The Lincoln Community Theatre’s season begins with the musical Once Upon a Mattress (June 8-16), followed by Honk! (July 6-14) and Cinderella (July 27-Aug. 4). Shows are presented in the Johnston Center for the Performing Arts, on the campus of Lincoln College, in Lincoln. Call 217-735-2614. Kevin Purcell will perform poems by Illinois prairie poets at the Vachel Lindsay Home at 11 a.m. and 1:30 and 4:30 p.m. Saturday, June 23. Purcell, a Seattle actor who has relocated to Springfield, will present poems by Lindsay, Edgar Lee Masters, and Carl Sandburg. Original music will be performed by Ann Collins and Kevin Carton. Call 217-524-0901 for reservations.
The Illinois Shakespeare Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary with productions of Much Ado About Nothing, Henry V, and Love’s Labour’s Lost, performed in repertory June 27-Aug. 12. Productions are staged in Ewing Manor. Call 309-438-2535. The Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, also stages three shows in repertory each summer. June 15-July 28, the featured plays are The Lion in Winter, Bus Stop, and a new comedy, Pasta, aka The Carmone Brothers Italian Food Products Corp.’s Annual Pasta Pageant. Call 217-333-6280 or visit www.krannertcenter.com. The St. Louis Muny Opera — the country’s largest outdoor theater, seating 12,000 — will offer seven productions this summer: Oklahoma! (June 18-24), Grease (June 25-July 3), Hello, Dolly! (July 9-15), Peter Pan (July 16-22), The Pajama Game (July 23-29), Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (July 30-Aug. 5), and Les Misérables (Aug. 6-15). Call 314-361-1900, ext. 550, or visit www.muny.org.
The touring edition of the hit musical The Lion King will play at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis June 21-July 29. Call 314-534-1111 or 800-293-5949 or visit www.fabulousfox.com.
And here is an event that always delivers: Rushville’s Annual Cemetery Walk. Actors portray characters from the past as visitors tour Bader Cemetery. This year’s walk, the eighth, is titled Memories of Courage, Sacrifice, and Dedication and features six characters. The performance starts at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 26. Call 217-322-2066 for more information.
Director, actor, and writer Phil Funkenbusch is a regular contributor to Illinois Times.
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