Theatre of the Republic has mastered the act of putting together seasons that span a variety of plays.
The 46th season won’t be any exception, either, with “Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy” opening Aug. 19 at the Main Street Theatre in Conway, and shows at 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m. Sundays, through Aug. 30.
Tim McGhee, the troupe’s longtime executive/artistic director, said having a connection for “such wonderful shows” through the Music Theatre International licensing agency for plays helped in landing the rights to “Sister Act,” which is based on the movie franchise that premiered in 1992.
“We got a note about ‘Sister Act’ being selected for a few theaters,” McGhee said, “and we got it. It’s usually done by professional acting companies. We’re one of the first community theaters on the East Coast to get this.”
A sixth show for Theater of the Republic will be announced for June, “a new, current release show.”
The season, with each play going two weekends, including a Sunday matinee, continues with “The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy” Oct. 21-Nov. 1. McGhee said Theatre of the Republic plans for Halloween time with “something with a little darkness and comedy,” and “Young Frankenstein” proved successful last October.
“You think of the charactrers,” he said, “and add some songs to them, and you have a great, funny show, with a lot of dancing and little stories.”
“A Christmas Story: The Musical” will return Dec. 9-20, and the company’s Coastal Youth Theatre division again will help with casting many youth parts in that.
“Our plan for Christmas shows,” McGhee said, “is every two years, to bring a new show in.”
The capers surrounding the life of Ralphie and his quest for a Red Ryder BB gun in the 1940s will remain the bull’s eye in the plot, but the troupe will “change some things around,” McGhee said, complimenting an expected blend of some cast members from the first run and new faces this time around, just as other theaters tweak their adaptation of classics such as “A Christmas Carol.”
The new year will begin with “Urinetown: The Musical” Feb. 17-28, which McGhee called “something different” for Theatre of the Republic, which “we’ve talked about doing for many years,” simply wanting everyone to not get bogged down by its title and to embrace its “great music,” starting with the opening number, “The Great Exposition.”
“The Boy From Oz” April 20-May 1, comes next, from what became “the first Australian musical to hit Broadway,” said McGhee, who said he stumbled upon this, not knowing the rights were available for this play.
“It has lots of great dance numbers,” he said of what he regards and respects as “a human story.”
A sixth show will be announced for June, McGhee said, hoping to have the choice inked by April and expecting “a new, current release show.”
Children’s theater benefits all
Coming back to the children’s theater, which concluded its after-school spring session with a weekend of performing Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast,” and summer program with ‘Shrek the Musical Jr.,” McGhee said this company established in summer 2013 within Theatre of the Republic, continues developing and nurturing talent for the future on stage in downtown Conway.
Lunda Cornelius, the youth theater coordinator and director, said the program’s “growing like a mushroom,” with enrollment so consistent that sessions after school on Mondays – this fall, starting Sept. 28 – are split into groups for ages 7-10 and 11-18.
Among parents of participants, word of mouth and advertising, and families bringing children to shows, “all of this is culminating in a fabulous program,” she said.
Looking at other possibilities to expand arts exposure, Cornelius spoke about a wish, maybe this winter, to start an acting class to teens to focus on the components of classics, in another direction beyond the fun of musicals – “which, make no mistake, I love” – such as “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “Our Town” and “Shakespeare for Juniors,” without the dance aspect woven in each semester-ending play.
With a mix of students who return for each session, coupled with newcomers, Cornelius said she loves having such grand projects to build with them over a few months, next with “A Christmas Story,” an ageless saga she called “such a hoot, so well written,” with music to match.
“That gives me something to explore in my teaching,” she said.
Cornelius said McGhee, as “a master of scheduling,” helps with choosing each work to perform to celebrate the finale of each youth session.
“He and I have come up with home runs every time,” she said.
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.
If you go
Who: Theatre of the Republic, in 46th season
Opening play: “Sister Act: A Divine Musical Comedy,” Aug. 19-30
When: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 19, 20, 22, 26 and 29 (Wednesdays-Saturdays), and 3 p.m. Aug. 23 and 30 (Sundays).
Where: Main Street Theatre, 335 Main. St., Conway
Other shows: Each with runs of 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays and 3 p.m Sundays –
▪ “The Addams Family: A New Musical Comedy” Oct. 21-Nov. 1
▪ “A Christmas Story: The Musical” Dec. 9-20
▪ “Urinetown: The Musical” Feb. 17-28
▪ “The Boy From Oz” April 20-May 1.
How much: Each show $23, or subscribe with season tickets – $100, $190, $360 or $510 for for respective one, two, four or six tickets per show; also, flex ticket plans available at same rates for five, 10, 20 or 30 admissions to any of the five season productions.
Valet parking: Available for $5 per show
Torry Awards: Winners for 2014-15 including –
▪ Actor – Bradlee Gorrera and Patrick Miller, from “Young Frankenstein” and “Avenue Q,” respectively
▪ Actress – Laura Flint, “Gypsy”
▪ Supporting actor – Trevor Barnes, “Young Frankenstein”
▪ Supporting actress – Terri Stephens, “Young Frankenstein”
▪ Show – “Rent”
▪ Actor with multiple roles – Raymond Elling, “Young Frankenstein”
▪ Actress with multiple roles – Kaitlyn Barnes, “Gypsy”
▪ Outstanding Performance Without a Sound – Kat Sweeney, as The Shimmy in “Smokey Joe’s Cafe”
▪ “The Addams Family,” 7 p.m. Aug. 23-24
▪ “A Christmas Story,” 6 p.m. Oct. 25 for boys in lead roles of Ralphie and Randy, and 7 p.m. Oct. 25-26 adults
▪ “Urinetown,” 7 p.m. Dec. 13-14
▪ “The Boy from Oz,” 7 p.m. Feb. 21-22.
Coastal Youth Theatre: Fall classes on Mondays starting Sept. 28 – 3:30-5 p.m. for ages 7-10, and 5-7 p.m. ages 11-18 – in preparation for various parts in “A Christmas Story.” Tuition $475 (payable in two installments, through PayPal). For details, email firstname.lastname@example.org.