On Tuesday night, the Skylight Music Theatre announced its lineup of shows for the upcoming 2018-19 season, one the company calls a collection of "firsts," emphasizing popular and beloved Broadway blockbusters making their maiden appearances on the Skylight's stage.
"We are thrilled to announce this exciting season of well-known and well-loved shows that have not been produced by Skylight before," said artistic director Ray Jivoff, in a press release. "These are blockbuster titles that perfectly capture Skylight’s mission of presenting the full spectrum of music theatre, from musicals to revues to classical repertoire. Each show is joyful and exuberant in its own way and highlights our dedication to producing inventive and theatrical musical storytelling."
The lineup was announced Tuesday night at a special celebration hosted by the Skylight's home, the Cabot Theatre inside the Broadway Theatre Center, featuring performances of several songs from the newly selected shows.
The Skylight's 2018-19 schedule includes:
"Pippin": Sept. 21-Oct. 7
The classic Stephen Schwartz ("Wicked," "Godspell") show – originally directed by Bob Fosse – about a young prince aiming to find his "corner of the sky" will finally find its place on the Skylight Music Theatre stage this upcoming season after winning five Tonys in its original 1973 Broadway run as well as four more for its 2013 revival.
"'Pippin' is both a humorous allegory about growing up and a dark tale of the dangers of false appearances," Jivoff said. "This may be Stephen Schwartz’s most imaginative and compelling score and calls for stage magic, thrilling choreography and deeply personal storytelling."
"Hairspray": Nov. 16-Dec. 23
Run and tell this: After hopping from the big screen to the stage, before hopping back to the silver screen again in 2007 – not to mention a stop on the small screen for a live NBC production in 2016 – John Waters' jubilant '60s-set story of racial integration and acceptance on a bouncy Baltimore dance TV program will finally bound its way onto the Skylight stage just in time for the holiday season. You know what they say about stopping the beat ...
"'Hairspray' is one of the most popular musicals today because it deals with issues of race, class, bullying and physical appearance with wit, a great score, a diverse cast and exuberant dancing," Jivoff said. "This is a hilarious musical with depth and heart that deals with important issues facing our community."
Speaking of the community, the Skylight also plans to work with local high schools to cast 12 to 15 area teenagers for the show's ensemble.
"Five Guys Named Moe": Jan. 25-Feb. 10
Making its premiere at the Skylight Music Theatre, "Five Guys Named Moe" pays tribute to 1940s blues singer Louis Jordan through the story of a young man recovering from a heartbreak with the help of a quintet of Moes – and, most importantly, the swinging songwriter's timeless music.
"'Five Guys Named Moe' is popular with all audiences because Jordan’s music is funny, joyful and human," Jivoff said. "This is a true ensemble piece with a small, swinging band and our intention is to feature local Skylight talent."
"Things That Go Ding!": Feb. 22-March 3
A special added production brought back by popular demand for eight performances, "Things That Go Ding!" features Skylight percussionist Michael "Ding" Lorenz adapting musical works from across the centuries with his eccentric collection of vintage Vaudeville percussion oddities. The show was a previous hit in the Skylight's Bar & Bistro Cabaret in 2009, as well as the Studio Theatre in 2012, but this bonus performance will mark the first time it graces the main Cabot stage.
"Carmina Burana": March 15-31
The only thing better than one local theater company hitting the stage? Two local theater companies hitting the stage together! That's exactly what will happen next March as the Skylight will team up with Milwaukee Opera Theatre for Carl Orff's masterwork "Carmina Burana," reworking this grandiose tale of the human condition for a new intimate setting.
"Usually produced as a concert work, we have an opportunity to create a new 'Carmina,' in which each musical moment is connected to an action onstage," Jivoff said. "With music that is now part of our cultural DNA, 'Carmina Burana' represents one of the few box office certainties of 20th century classical repertoire."
"Kiss Me, Kate": May 17-June 9
The Skylight will kiss off its 2018-19 season with "Kiss Me, Kate," the classic Broadway combination of William Shakespeare and Cole Porter. Featuring some of Porter's most iconic songs ("Another Op'nin', Another Show," "Too Darn Hot"), this showbiz-centric retelling of the Bard's "Taming of the Shrew" follows a stage production flying off the rails thanks to the clash former couple turned co-stars ... and also some gangsters show up.
The original 1949 Broadway production won Best Musical at just the third ever Tony Awards, as well as four other awards, before winning five more Tonys in 1999 for its revival. And if that wasn't enough, that original 1949 cast recording was inducted into the Library of Congress' National Recording Registry in 2015.
"'Kiss Me, Kate' is perfect for Skylight because the book is central to the show and requires performers who can act, handle Shakespearean text and sing," Jivoff said. "The score mirrors Skylight’s mission of presenting the full spectrum of music theatre and acknowledges our history with opera, operetta and musicals.
"The musical was inspired by the battling of husband-and-wife actors Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne during their 1935 production of 'Taming of the Shrew,'" he added. "Alfred Lunt was a Wisconsin native and they owned Ten Chimneys, now a southeastern Wisconsin landmark. Skylight’s version will provide a fresh twist on a classic!"
Subscriptions for the Skylight's upcoming season are on sale now at the company's website, while single tickets – ranging from $30-$75 – will go on sale beginning Monday, July 16 on the website, at the Broadway Theatre Center box office and over the phone at (414) 291-7800. "Things That Go Ding!" is not a part of a subscription package, but subscribers will be able to purchase exclusive discounted tickets at $25.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.