Sumter Little Theatre announces 2018-19 season

Pulitzer Prize winner opens diverse schedule

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 7/15/18

A thought-provoking drama by one of America's most beloved playwrights opens Sumter Little Theatre's 2018-19 season on Aug. 23.

In rehearsal now for almost three weeks, "Fences," by the late August Wilson, explores the effects of racism on family …

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Sumter Little Theatre announces 2018-19 season

Pulitzer Prize winner opens diverse schedule

Posted

A thought-provoking drama by one of America's most beloved playwrights opens Sumter Little Theatre's 2018-19 season on Aug. 23.

In rehearsal now for almost three weeks, "Fences," by the late August Wilson, explores the effects of racism on family relationships in 1957 Pittsburgh.

SLT Executive Director Eric Bultman said the play is being directed by Brianna Gray, a graduate of the S.C. Governor's School for the Arts and a senior theater major at the University of South Carolina. Gray, known at SLT for her portrayal of Juliet in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," is a first-time director at the theater but has extensive experience at both schools.

The cast of "Fences" includes four of the "Five Guys Named Moe" actors from last season's musical of that name. Paul Brown plays Troy, once a star player in the Negro baseball leagues, now 53 and a sanitation worker in Pittsburgh. Hugh China is his best friend, Bono, Don Phillips is Lyons, Troy's older son, and Markelle Roberts plays Cory, Troy's younger son by his wife, Rose, portrayed by Gwen Waters.

Following the season opener, SLT will revive the hit musical comedy "Little Shop of Horrors" in October. The 2010 show entertained capacity audiences in 2010. Not yet cast, the story of mild-mannered floral assistant Seymour Krelhorn and the man-eating plant he names Audrey II will have auditions with musical director Linda Beck at 6 p.m. on July 26-27 at the theater.

"Best Christmas Pageant Ever," a comedy favorite of audiences that has become a tradition at SLT, features actors from the theater's youth school portraying children rehearsing for the church Christmas pageant. Among them are the Herdman kids, dubbed "the worst kids in the history of the world." They've never heard of the holy family or the biblical Christmas story and are only interested in the snacks provided at the church.

Bultman said the actors in the youth theater "are such a good group of elementary school students. They're a bright, energetic bunch," perfect for the children in the pageant. Several adults will also be cast in the show that explores "the true meaning of Christmas."

Ken Ludwig's "Baskerville: A Sherlock Holmes Mystery" opens the second half of the season on Feb. 14. Bultman will direct the Valentine's comedy by one of SLT audiences' favorite playwrights.

"We've done a Ken Ludwig comedy for the past three seasons," he said. "Ludwig's plays are hilarious."

He explained that "Baskerville," based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Hound of the Baskerville," has around five actors - or more - playing all the roles.

"It's in the tradition of the 'Greater Tuna' plays and Patrick Barlow's 'The 39 Steps,'" which SLT has produced previously, he said.

"The Brothers Grimm Spectaculathon" opens on April 4. The show features two actors trying to recreate all of the Grimms' more than 200 fairy tales in a short period of time. Many of the stories, such as Rapunzel, Cinderella and Hansel and Gretel, will be familiar, but several obscure tales will also be included.

"It's a fun show we'll do with young people," Bultman said. "We read it in our middle school class - they howled."

The season closes with the Tony-winning musical comedy "Avenue Q," which opens May 23.

"It's a different kind of story," Bultman said. While it's an adult story, "the performers carry puppets, very similar to Muppets, who 'do' the dialogue and singing. It takes on adult situations and is somewhat irreverent. It'll be a lot of fun."

He added the show is "a different kind of musical in that it's character driven instead of situational. It will be challenging."

Bultman noted other changes to the season include a longer run for the musicals.

"We'll do 10 performances of 'Little Shop' and 'Avenue Q' and four of (non-musical) 'The Brothers Grimm,'" he said.

Bultman said the rehearsal room at the theater will be used for "small performances, play readings. It's another space that can be utilized. We want to keep the theater in operation as much as we can."

Season memberships at four different levels to Sumter Little Theatre's 2018-19 season are available now. For more information, contact SLT, 14 Mood Ave., at (803) 775-2150, or visit www.sumterlittletheatre.com.