NORTH EAST — From time-honored classics to newer additions to the theatrical stage, Cecil College’s Milburn Stone Theatre unveiled what shows it will be performing for its 2019-20 season during a season reveal event Saturday night.
The first show of MST’s upcoming season will be “Anything Goes,” running Aug. 2-4 and Aug. 9-11.
Wall Street broker Billy Crocker falls head over heels in love with a girl he meets in a taxi. While saying goodbye to his boss, Elisha J. Whitney, who is traveling on the SS American to London for a business deal, Billy spots the girl from the taxi boarding the same ship and he stows away in the hopes of being able to win her affection during the trip. Also aboard are nightclub singer Reno Sweeney; a gangster named “Moonface” Martin and his girlfriend, Bonnie; and a whole cast of other characters.
Director Lindsay Brahl said the complex choreography and exciting plot of “Anything Goes” combine for an entertaining tale about the pursuit of love.
“With the help of some elaborate disguises, tap-dancing sailors and good old-fashioned blackmail, Reno and Martin join forces to help Billy in his quest to win Hope’s heart,” Brahl said.
Next up, MST will present “Frozen Jr.” on Sept. 13-15, featuring a cast of actors 18 years old and younger.
Fans of the Disney movie musical will reunite with some of their favorite characters in this stage production.
MST general manager Dann Combs noted that the show highlights the strong bonds between sisters, Anna and Elsa, as they learn the greatest magic of all: love.
“A story of true love and acceptance betweens sisters, ‘Frozen Jr.’ expands upon the emotional relationship and journey between princesses Anna and Elsa,” Combs said. “When faced with danger, the two discover their hidden potential and the powerful bond of sisterhood. With a cast of beloved characters and loaded with magical adventures and plenty of humor, Frozen Jr. is sure to thaw even the coldest of hearts.”
In time for the Halloween season, the “American Psycho” musical will make its regional premiere at MST from Oct. 11-13, 18-20.
Based on the 1991 novel by Brett Easton Ellis and the 2000 psychological horror film starring Christian Bale, the “American Psycho” musical follows Patrick Bateman: New York City investment banker by day, serial killer by night.
With music and lyrics by Duncan Sheik, one of the creative minds behind the popular rock musical “Spring Awakening,” “American Psycho” will be a killer show, according to MST artistic director Andrew Mitchell.
“‘American Psycho’ is destined to be your next musical theater obsession,” Mitchell said.
The show is recommended for audiences 16 and older.
Following “American Psycho” will be MST’s performance of “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” on Nov. 22-24, Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 1.
The show holds a particular timeliness after an April 15 fire badly damaged much of the Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral.
Combs said “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” pairs beautiful music with a compelling plot to create a must-see show.
“A sweeping score and powerful story make ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ an instant classic,” he said. “Audiences will be swept away by the magic of this truly unforgettable musical as it explores hope, acceptance and what it means to be a hero in a ‘can’t miss’ theatrical event.”
Honoring one of the most produced plays and most popular playwrights of all time, MST will present William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” from Jan. 17 -19 to kick off their shows in 2020.
The famed play follows the budding romance between Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet, whose families face off against one another in a long-standing feud, explained MST production manager Melissa Redfield.
“Tragically ripped apart by the bitter divisions of their two feuding families, alike in dignity, Shakespeare’s immortal young lovers risk everything to try and fashion a new world amid the violence of the old. But cataclysmic choices and tragic twists propel them toward a final confrontation with fate,” Redfield said.
MST recommends “Romeo and Juliet” for audiences 13 and older.
Occasionally, certain productions come with promotional stipulations that restrict how theater companies can advertise those shows. MST encountered such advertising limitations with its production of “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” in February, and two of its productions for the upcoming season are accompanied by similar restrictions, according to Mitchell.
While MST cannot yet announce what its February show is, Mitchell said the theater will announce the show on Oct. 15. The show will run from Feb. 14-16, 21-23.
MST will present the next installment of its “MST in Concert” series with the “Titanic” musical from March 13-15. Previous shows in that series have been “Jesus Christ Superstar” and “Chess” which featured live bands.
The “Titanic” musical does not follow the same plot as the 1997 film starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio. But Redfield said the songs and stories in this show present a very real and emotional picture of what it was like aboard the RMS Titanic passenger liner, which tragically sank in the North Atlantic Ocean after hitting an iceberg during its maiden voyage in 1912.
“The musical focuses on the real passengers and crew members who travelled aboard the doomed vessel … In telling their stories, the show touches on issues such as class, the American Dream, and mankind’s vulnerability in the face of nature,” Redfield said.
The “Titanic” musical is recommended for ages 10 and up.
Like the February show, MST cannot yet announce the April show. However, Mitchell said the theater will announce the show on Aug. 5. The production will run from April 24-26 and May 1-3.
Rounding out MST’s 2019-20 season will be “Puffs, Or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic,” which will run June 19-21, 26-28.
Based on the popular Harry Potter novel series by author J.K. Rowling, “Puffs” is set during the same seven years that protagonist Harry Potter is a student at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. But rather than focusing on Harry and his friends, “Puffs” turns the focus on a lesser featured group at the school: the “Puffs,” short for the Hufflepuff house at the wizarding school.
Deemed outcasts by the other three houses — Gryffindor, Slytherin and Ravenclaw (or “Braves, snakes and smarts”) — the Puffs set out to carve their own path.
Full of humor and wit, “Puffs” has all the Hogwarts nostalgia Potter-heads will want, plus a new perspective that keeps the beloved story refreshing, according to Redfield.
“For Potter-philiacs who grew up alongside Potter and are eager to revisit that world, ‘Puffs’ exudes a jovial winking fondness for all things Harry,” she said.
Being that the upcoming season will be the theater’s 29th season, Mitchell also gave a glimpse into what audiences can expect from the 30th season. To celebrate three decades of performances, he said MST will be bringing back to its stage some of the shows the theater has performed over the course of those 30 years for an encore.
Mitchell plugged the theater’s upcoming production of “Evita,” which will run June 14-16 and 21-23 of this year.
MST will also be hosting the Cecil Dance Theatre for their performance of “Snow White” on May 4 and 5.
Tina Travers, owner of the Cecil Dancenter studio, thanked MST for continually giving their dancers a place to perform and share stories through dance with audiences.
“We are so grateful for this awesome theater here in our community,” she said. “Our dancers love performing here.”
Mitchell also teased a few other projects that are in the works, including an independent film festival that will focus on Cecil County filmmakers as well as creators from the surrounding area, and a cult classic film series in partnership with Armstrong Cable.
Food for the theater season reveal event was provided by Steak and Main restaurant. Various business and individuals provided items for the silent auction.