After 30 years of entertaining the West Michigan community, Hope Summer Repertory Theatre (HSRT) shows no signs of slowing down. From wizards to higher education to a rock 'n roll Shakespeare, HSRT is providing a summer full of shows with something for every one.
The season opens on Friday, June 15, with a show the whole family already loves, L. Frank Baum's "The Wizard of Oz." The great film score comes to life on the HSRT stage with the lyrics and music of Harold Arien and E.Y. Harburg. Marcella Rose Sciotto makes her HSRT debut as Dorothy, surrounded by the talent of Dana Snyder ("Sylvia," "Charlie Brown"), Chip Du Ford ("Chaps," "Joseph"), and Brandy McClendon ("Suds," "Sylvia"). As an added bonus, the stage version includes the exciting dance number, "Jitterbug," which was cut from the movie version. "The Wizard of Oz" will be presented in the DeWitt Center main theatre.
Although it is about "Orphans," Lyle Kessler's play is not about young children. Instead, this tragicomedy follows two orphaned teenage brothers, and the results of their kidnapping scheme in which they unwittingly nab an older, more established criminal. This father figure creates new dynamics in how the brothers interact with the world, and each other. Daina Robins ("Cinderella," "Twelve Angry Men") directs this emotionally charged piece featuring new HSRT Equity Guest Artist Mark Goetzinger. This play, intended for mature audiences, opens Friday, June 22, in Snow Auditorium.
Next, if the truth is no fun, you can always create some "Rumors." Opening Friday, June 29, in the DeWitt Center main theatre, Neil Simon's 1988 farce takes us to a 10th anniversary celebration for one couple, which ends up as a night no one is likely to forget. As the guests try to figure out what has become of the happy couple, the rumors multiply into a dizzying array of laughter. Director Tom Bullard ("Man of La Mancha," "To Kill A Mockingbird") returns to lead an outstanding cast of HSRT favorites including David Colacci, James Saba, Dana Snyder, Brandy McClendon, and Chip DuFord.
HSRT continues to know no bounds as it returns its cabaret show to downtown Holland. This time Fred Tessler, creator of last year's "G.I. Jive," turns our attention to the theme of "He Loves, She Loves," opening at the exciting new restaurant, Via Maria (13 W. 7th Street) on Monday, July 2. Great Broadway classics, including Stepen Sondheim and Rodgers and Hammerstein songs, find a new format as we watch one couple fall in love, and another couple fall out. This show includes the return of one of the "Annie" girls, Nicole Tieri, a Grand Rapids native now studying theatre at New York University.
Higher education does not escape HSRT's grasp this season when Willy Russell's "Educating Rita" opens on the mainstage on Friday, July 20. A struggling university lecturer meets a brash, down-to-earth hairdresser hoping for an education. Set in England, this great comedy features the talents of HSRT Artistic Producer, David Colacci, and the fire of Brandy McClendon under the direction of Jahnna Beecham ("The Nerd," "Chaps"). This play contains material best suited for mature audiences.
On Friday, July 27, Shakespeare meets Saba? Yes, when HSRT actor, director, and writer James Saba ("Sylvia," CPT artistic director) presents his rock 'n roll version of the Bard's "The Two Gentlemen of Verona." With musical arrangements by Steve Gunderson ("Suds"), the songs of the late 1950s and early 1960s create a new way to love an old classic. One of Shakespeare's earliest plays, this romantic comedy follows the adventures of Valentine and Proteus and the series of events which occur when the already betrothed Proteus falls for Valentine's beloved. Saba's own creative talents shine in this new version, which he also directs on DeWitt's mainstage.
Finally, just for the children (although we let the parents come in as well), the Children's Performance Troupe presents two tales for the young at heart. James Saba directs "The New Kid," a moving but funny tale about the challenges of coming to a new country. Ross Williams directs the classic "The Ugly Duckling," with a unique HSRT touch to it.
The DeWitt Theatre box office opens for subscribers beginning Thursday, May 24, and for single ticket sales beginning Tuesday, May 29. The box office is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Saturdays. Located in the theatre lobby of the DeWitt Center at 12th Street and Columbia Avenue, the box office may be called at (616) 395-7890.