Erie Playhouse executive director Almitra Clerkin decided to do something a little different when it came time to announce the 2014-2015 season. The slate of shows that begins in September was heralded with a launch party that included performances unveiling what was coming.
"You felt the energy and excitement coming up on stage," Clerkin said. "It was a great night."
These little sneak peeks helped generate enthusiasm not only for the big-name shows, but also the lesser-known ones, and Clerkin is eager to make the event an annual tradition. Many of this season’s offerings are new to Erie, which not only draws audiences but also performers.
"There’s lots of shows they’re really excited to try out for," she said.
She noted that of the new season’s main stage offerings, four of the five musicals are based on movies or TV shows. While this wasn’t intentional, she believes it adds to the fun of the season. As "Shrek," "Elf" and "The Addams Family" are appropriate for all ages, it has allowed the Playhouse to create a "family season" that will include those three and the Youtheatre shows "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, the Musical Tale," "Sleeping Beauty" and "Peter Pan."
The season also includes two special events: the Tony-winning "Nine in Concert" on New Year’s Eve and the haunting historical tapestry of "The Civil War in Concert" in April. Here’s a closer look at the eight main stage shows.
‘Shrek The Musical’
Beloved fairy tale characters storm the stage alongside gruff ogre Shrek. With the chatty Donkey by his side, this unlikely hero agrees to rescue the trapped Princess Fiona in a quest filled with raucous jokes and sweet surprises. Sept. 19-Oct. 5.
‘Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike’
When their globe-trotting actress sister Masha visits with her young boyfriend Spike, it creates chaos for stepsiblings Vanya and Sonia, who have spent their lives as faithful caretakers to their parents in this zany, Tony-winning comedy. Nov. 7-23.
In this modern Christmas classic, naive North Pole resident Buddy brings a hearty dose of Yuletide cheer to New York City when he ventures there to find his biological family. The cheerful chap raised as an elf soon realizes he has his work cut out for him if he’s going to bring his two worlds together. Dec. 5-Jan. 4.
‘The Addams Family’
Guess who’s coming to dinner? Notorious goth girl Wednesday Addams, daughter of Gomez and Morticia, is now an adult with a respectable boyfriend. Strange secrets await both families when he and his parents join the Addamses for supper. Feb. 13-March 1.
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’
This celebrated tale set in Depression-era Alabama provides a child’s-eye view of the ugliness of prejudice. Young Jem and Scout get a powerful education the summer their father, noble lawyer Atticus Finch, defends falsely accused black handyman Tom Robinson against a vile accuser. March 13-29.
‘Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Sunset Boulevard’
Silent film star Norma Desmond yearns to recapture her former glory in an era of "talkies." She hopes that Joe Gillis, a screenwriter trying to make his way in Hollywood, will be her ticket back to the big time, but heartaches await in this passionate musical. June 5-21.
‘Elvis Has Left the Building’
Elvis has vanished, so his debt-ridden manager, the Colonel, must find a convincing Elvis impersonator to take the stage in time for the King’s next big show. Hilarity ensues in this comedy, the first of two shows celebrating Elvis’ 80th birthday. July 10-26.
‘All Shook Up’
This jukebox musical takes its basic plot from Shakespeare’s "Twelfth Night," mixing in performances of 24 Elvis hits in a wacky comedy. Aug. 7-23.