Theatre at the Center, the Munster, Indiana-based operation that is embraced by the Jeff Awards Committee despite its cross-border location, will be celebrating its 25th anniversary season in 2015 with a lineup that includes satirical spoofs, rock and roll musicals and heartwarming stories, each with a close relationship to iconic films.
The season opens with the drama “On Golden Pond” (Feb. 26-March 29, 2015), the touching, funny, warmly insightful story that won a Tony Award on Broadway and then went on to become an Oscar-winning film. It will then move on to try its hand at the recent Broadway musical “Big Fish” (May 7-June 7); to shake, rattle and roll with “All Shook Up! The Music of Elvis Presley” (June 16-Aug. 16), a show inspired by the movies and songs of Elvis, as well as by Shakespeare’s comedy “Twelfth Night”; and then “Spamalot” (Sept. 17-Oct. 18), the zany Monty Python-inspired farce about King Arthur and his band of unruly knights. Closing the season during the 2015 holiday season will be the stage version of the nostalgic family favorite “A Christmas Story” (Nov. 19-Dec. 27).
“We’re thrilled to be celebrating this milestone anniversary season,” said Theatre at the Center artistic director William Pullinsi in a prepared statement. “What began as a summer theater with a few guest artists has grown into a year-round, professional Equity theater attracting some of the best performers and designers, and presenting classic favorites, as well as Chicago area and world premieres at affordable prices.”
Here’s a closer look at the shows:
“ON GOLDEN POND” is playwright Mark Rydell’s charming love story that follows an elderly couple, Ethel and Norman Thayer, who return to their summer home in Maine. Their vacation is interrupted with the unexpected arrival of their estranged daughter, her fiancé, and his teenage son. Over the course of the summer, an unlikely friendship develops between Norman and the boy, bringing together generations and the lessons they learn from each other. The play was a Broadway hit, running for 382 performances in 1979, before becoming a classic film starring Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda and Jane Fonda in 1981.
“BIG FISH,” based on the celebrated novel by Daniel Wallace and the acclaimed film directed by Tim Burton, this musical tells the magical, heartfelt journey of traveling salesman Edward Bloom, who brings to life the incredible, larger-than-life stories he tells about his teenage encounters with a witch, a giant and a mermaid. Fast forward to the present day and an aging Edward Bloom faces his mortality while his son, Will, prepares to be a father himself and is determined to find the truth behind his father’s epic tales.
“ALL SHOOK UP! THE MUSIC OF ELVIS PRESLEY,” is set in the Midwest in 1955 and spins the story of Natalie, a young girl with dreams of hitting the road, and Chad, a charismatic roustabout who brings rock and roll to her town and changes it forever. The musical features 24 Elvis classics, including “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Jailhouse Rock,” “All Shook Up,” “Love Me Tender” and “Don’t Be Cruel.”
“SPAMALOT,” inspired by the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” and featuring a book and lyrics by Eric Idle and an entirely new score by Idle and John Du Prez, features dancing divas, a legless knight, flatulent Frenchmen and killer rabbits for a crazy epic story of King Arthur and his band of Round Table Knights. A huge hit on Broadway, it is now being performed in theaters across the country.
“A CHRISTMAS STORY,” the charmingly funny and nostalgic holiday favorite that tells the story of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker, who longs for a genuine Red Ryder BB gun. The source material for the film was the warm and hilarious story collection, “In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash” by Jean Shepherd, the native of Hammond, Indiana (a town just minutes away from Theatre at the Center’s home in Munster). Unfortunately, everyone in Ralphie’s life, from his teacher to his mother, repeatedly crush his dreams, threatening, “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Ralphie won’t be deterred and will do whatever it takes — mounting a hilarious, hint-dropping, Santa-begging campaign and enduring a slew of calamities to make sure he receives his prized gift on Christmas morning.
Season subscriptions ($150-$160) are now on sale for renewals (on Oct. 14 for new subscribers). Individual tickets ($40-$44) go on sale Dec. 16. Call (219) 836-3255 or visit http://www.TheatreAtTheCenter.com.