On February 9, Newnan Theatre Company presented its 2013 Gala, NTC's celebration of its 2013/2014 season opening. Season ticket holders and guests were treated to drinks, hors d'oeuvres and desserts. They participated in a silent auction of an intriguing array of items, profits to benefit the theatre, and they were given an opportunity to renew or purchase season memberships at discount prices.
Also at the Gala, NTC formally accepted the script for "Murder in Coweta County." Commissioned author Jeff Bishop was presented with a check by Caroline Abbey, Artistic Director Paul Conroy, and Managing Director Dave Dorrel. As yet, no performance date has been set. "As soon as possible the play will be mounted, but right now we're planning another closed reading here, and probably a staged reading out of state to see how audiences react," said Conroy. "This play could go all the way to Broadway. We want to be sure the story is understood and appreciated by audiences outside of Coweta County."
The height of the evening for the guests was a preview of upcoming productions. Actors staged a brief scene from all ten of the shows planned for the 2013/14 season. As always, the show selections are of the highest quality, and include a variety to suit every taste: two popular family musicals, hilarious comedies appropriate for all ages, and dramas with serious themes and mature content that challenge both players and audiences.
"We're presenting two Pulitzer prize-winning shows and two Tony Award winners for Best Musical," said Artistic Director Paul Conroy. "We're doing 'Bye 'Bye Birdie' on the 60th anniversary of the film release. We are the next company in the state of Georgia to do "August: Osage County" after it played at Atlanta's ALLIANCE THEATRE last season. And we're inviting the author of 'Thrill Me,' (a friend of mine) to come to Newnan for the production."
"We chose our shows with an eye to giving a wide swath of opportunities to performers of all types and ages. 'August: Osage County' has characters from age fourteen to the seventies. 'Thrill Me' offers opportunities for people in their late teens and early twenties. This will be the first musical ever to be produced in the Black Box." (The Black Box is NTC's small, intimate theatre space. Larger productions take place on the Main Stage.)
"Our Black Box shows involve no more than three people to try to give an even more intimate experience for the audience. These shows also give actors new opportunities because they are on stage for almost the entire show. So the experience will be very intense."
Here is the lineup for the 2013/2014 season:
September 5 - 15, 2013. "Bye, Bye Birdie," book by Michael Stewart, lyrics by Lee Adams, and music by Charles Strouse. One of the most captivating musical shows of our time, it tells the story of a rock and roll singer who is about to be inducted into the army. Put on a Happy Face, One Boy, A Lot of Livin' to Do, Kids and Spanish Rose are musical theatre classics. Good old fashioned fun. Main Stage.
September 26 - October 6, 2013. "'night Mother," by Marsha Norman. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, this eloquent, enthralling and ultimately shattering play explores the final hour in the life of a young woman who has decided that life is no longer worth living. *Mature Content. *Black Box.
October 24 - November 3, 2013. "The Mystery of Irma Vep," by Charles Ludlum. This definitive spoof of Gothic melodramas, recently revived Off-Broadway to raves, is a quick change marathon in which two actors play all the roles. A sympathetic werewolf, a vampire and an Egyptian princess brought to life when her tomb is opened make this a comedy that has everything. Black Box.
December 5 - 15, 2013. "Annie," music by Charles Strouse, lyrics by Martin Charnin, and book by Thomas Meehan. The popular comic strip heroine takes center stage in one of the world's best-loved musicals. With equal measures of pluck and positivity, little orphan Annie charms everyone's hearts, despite a next-to-nothing start in 1930s New York City. Annie foils Miss Hannigan's evil machinations and befriends President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She finds a new home and family in billionaire Oliver Warbucks, his personal secretary Grace Farrell, and a lovable mutt named Sandy. Main Stage.
December 16 - 22, 2013. "Every Christmas Story Ever Told (And Then Some!)," by Michael Carleton, James FitzGerald, and John K. Alvarez. Original music by Will Knapp. Instead of performing Charles Dickens' beloved holiday classic for the umpteenth time, three actors decide to perform every Christmas story ever told ? plus Christmas traditions from around the world, seasonal icons from ancient times to topical pop-culture, and every carol ever sung. A madcap romp through the holiday season. Black Box.
January 23 - February 3, 2014. "Plaza Suite," by Neil Simon. Hilarity abounds in this portrait of three couples successively occupying a suite at the Plaza. A wry tale of marriage in tatters is followed by the exploits of a Hollywood producer who calls a childhood sweetheart who turns out to be more than the sexual exploit he bargained for. The last couple is a mother and father fighting about the best way to get their daughter out of the bathroom and down to the ballroom where guests await her marriage. Main Stage.
February 20 - March 2, 2014. "Souvenir," by Stephen Temperley. For more than half a century, Florence Foster Jenkins, a wealthy society eccentric, suffered under the delusion that she was a great coloratura soprano when she was in fact incapable of producing two consecutive notes in tune. Nevertheless, her annual recitals in the ballroom of the Ritz Carlton hotel, where she resided, brought her extraordinary fame. Her growing mob of fans packed her recitals, stuffing handkerchiefs in their mouths to stifle their laughter-which Mrs. Jenkins blissfully mistook for cheers. The climax of her career was a single concert at Carnegie Hall in 1944. Famously, it sold out in two hours. Black Box.
March 13 - 23, 2014. "August: Osage County," written by Tracey Letts and directed by NTC's Artistic Director Paul Conroy. Winner of the 2008 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award. When the large Weston family unexpectedly reunites after Dad disappears, their Oklahoman family homestead explodes in a maelstrom of repressed truths and unsettling secrets. Mix in Violet, the drugged-up, scathingly acidic matriarch, and you've got a major new play that unflinchingly-and uproariously-exposes the dark side of the Midwestern American family. *Mature Content.* Main Stage.
April 3 - 13, 2014. "Thrill Me: The Leopold & Loeb Story." Book, music, and lyrics by Stephen Dolginoff. Directed by NTC's Artistic Director Paul Conroy. Relationships can be murder. This two-character musical drama recounts the chilling true story of the legendary duo who committed one of the most infamous and heinous crimes of the twentieth century. Richard Loeb convinced Nathan Leopold that they embodied Nietzsche's idea of the "Superman" and were above society. Then he drew him into his plan to lure a young boy to his death just to prove they could get away with it. But soon their perfect crime unraveled due to a careless mistake. Or was it so careless? *Mature Content.* Black Box.
May 8 - 18, 2014. "The Foreigner," by Larry Shue. The scene is a fishing lodge in rural Georgia often visited by "Froggy" LeSeuer, a British demolition expert. This time Froggy has brought along a pathologically shy young man named Charlie who is overcome with fear at the thought of making conversation with strangers. So Froggy, before departing, tells all assembled that Charlie is from an exotic foreign country and speaks no English. As a result, Charlie overhears more than he should: damaging revelations made with the thought that Charlie doesn't understand a word being said. That he does fuels the nonstop hilarity of the play and sets up the wildly funny climax in which things go uproariously awry for the "bad guys," and the "good guys" emerge triumphant. Main Stage.
The new shows are listed on the NTC website: www.newnantheatre.org. You can now purchase season tickets or individual show tickets.
"In selecting shows to attend, people should do their research so they have an idea of what to expect," said Conroy. "We hope all productions will sell out. The musicals and the comedies - and maybe even 'August: Osage County' - will all be big draws. Season ticket holders are always guaranteed a seat."
To purchase tickets, and for show dates and times, visit Newnan Theatre Company's website at www.newnantheatre.org or visit the box office before or after any performance. The theater is located in historic downtown Newnan at 24 First Avenue.
Pictured: Johnny Holloway and patrons of Newnan Theatre Company enjoy a preshow reception at NTC's Annual Gala and Season Announcement.