With a mixture of returning favorites and Grand Rapids Civic Theatre premieres, Civic Theatre offers a season focused on the theme of equality with its 2016 – 2017 lineup.
“We kind of go through the selection process, put together the season and a theme just comes from there,” said Civic Theatre Artistic Director Bruce Tinker.
This year’s lineup ranges from David Lindsay-Abaire’s 2011 Tony Award-winning play “Good People,” about the disparages in class and social economics to the powerful musical “Ragtime,” a look at the equality of justice under the law.
“It’s our 91st season and I really love all of the selections,” Tinker said. “There a lot of first-time productions along with some returning like ‘Ragtime,’ which is one of my favorite musicals. The music is just gorgeous.”
Tinker, who directed Civic’s 2004 production of “Ragtime,” said he looks forward to reacquainting himself with the musical that delves into the hopes, dreams and struggles of the immigrants settling in America in the early 20th Century. The show runs Feb. 24 – March 19.
The season starts with “Good People,” Sept. 9 – 25, a look at class, poverty, wealth and privilege as Lindsay-Abaire contrasts the life of a single mother living paycheck-to-paycheck against her ex-boyfriend who successfully gets out of the neighborhood and becomes a prominent doctor.
“This is an incredibly timely piece,” Tinker said. “Lindsay-Abaire doesn’t write about heroes or villains. He writes about people. No one is great or awful, they are just human trying to make the right choices for them and their family amidst high pressure stakes.”
Civic Theatre then goes big in November with its premiere production of “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” “It was one of those things we had to wait for the right timing,” Tinker said of the company having never staged a production before. “It’s a great show for celebrating the holidays.” “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” which also contains an underlying message of acceptance, runs Nov. 18 – Dec. 18.
Dedicated to featuring a classic in every season, the Civic Theatre’s reading committee discovered the company had never done the 1930s comedy “The Philadelphia Story,” which became a 1940s film starring Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant. This screwball love-triangle comedy, which became the fomula for many other romantic comedies, follows Tracy Lord as she prepares for her second marriage and the antics of her ex-husband who tries to remind her of love lost. The show runs Jan. 13 – 29.
Another classic Civic has never produced is “Thoroughly Modern Millie,” the story of starry-eyed Millie Dillmount of Salina, Kansas, who has come to New York City to make her dream come true. “This is one that we always have just had to have the right mix and this year it just happened,” Tinker said. “We looked at the spring and thought, we need something fun and this show is it. Plus with all the graduations going on [during June], this show is a celebration of new beginnings and independence. It really just fits.”
The two family productions, both based on books, are “Holes,” Oct. 21 – 30 and “Fancy Nancy,” April 21 – 30.
Even the 2017 summer children’s repertory productions contain the theme of equality as the lineup includes the popular fantasy “The Neverending Story,” July 29 – Aug. 6, and “Hairspray Jr.,” July 28 – Aug. 5. “With ‘Hairspray, Jr.,’ even though it is set in the sixties, it offers not only a message of equality, but is about accepting who you are, mind and heart, over what you look like.
“Be who you are as everyone loves who you are as oppose to a certain type of person.”
For information about the upcoming season or for ticket pricing, visit www.grct.org o call 616-222-6650.