Theatre Memphis' 2017-18 season mixes crowd-pleasing faire like Dreamworks' Shrek, The Drowsy Chaperone, and 42nd Street with edgier dramas like Tracy Letts' August: Osage County and classics like 12 Angry Jurors. It's a solid lineup, and more exciting than any season this stuffed with name brands, and revivals has a right to be.
Shrek, the Musical
August 18 – September 10, 2017
The timely story of an ogre who gets peeved when scheming Lord Farquaad and a bunch of annoying fairytale characters immigrate to Shrek's swamp. You can tell this is a fantasy because the ogre listens to the donkey. All that and Fiona.
October 6 – 22, 2017
Consider the smooch. Now consider actors who've been lovers smooching in the revival of a 1930's melodrama. Now consider a giddy comedy where facts and fictions merge and play follows the characters home in ways only the magnificent Sarah Ruhl might imagine.
January 19 – February 4, 2018
In 1998, after 78-years in business, Theatre Memphis produced its first main stage to show showcase predominantly African Americans. It was August Wilson's Fences. A few years later TM staged Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, also by August Wilson. Now, 19-years later, in the wake of the Denzel Washington movie, Fences is coming back. I'm not going to complain about that — but yeah, I'm totally going to complain about that. The name on the marquee: Theatre MEMPHIS. And there's a big ol' community that's just not being served.
Theatre Memphis, 1998
The Drowsy Chaperone
March 9 – 31, 2018
The Drowsy Chaperone — a surprise hit if there ever was one — begins in the dark with a cranky voice calling out into the void. "I hate theater," it says, and the disoriented audience laughs sympathetically. "Well, it's always so disappointing, isn't it?" the voice continues. This is "Man in Chair," and what proceeds to unfold from that point is both a mash note to Jazz Age musicals like No, No, Nanette and The Vagabond King and a giddy essay on what audiences really want from a night at the theater. An enormous musical spectacle that unfolds in one lonely little apartment. Silly. Magical.
August: Osage County
April 27 – May 13, 2018
August: Osage County has a bit of everything for everybody: marital infidelity, incest, child molestation, Eric Clapton records, fibs, lies, falsehoods, etc. But in spite of the unsavory ingredients, this dish comes together like apple pie — crusty, sweet at the center, and full of spice.
(Yeah, the movie wasn't very good. But the play's great)
June 8 – July 1, 2018
A musical about making theater set against the background of the great depression and featuring songs like, "I Only Have Eyes For You," "Lullaby of Broadway," and, "Shuffle Off to Buffalo." Last appearing onstage at Theatre Memphis in 2002.
12 Angry Jurors
The ultimate courtroom drama based on a 1954 teleplay.
November 3 - 18, 2017 The New York Times once described Falsettos as the "perfect musical about an imperfect family." I can't do much better than that.
February 9 - 25, 2018
One of the funniest nonfiction plays I've ever seen about my favorite terrible Opera singer. Probably getting a revival in the wake of Meryl Streep's Florence Foster Jenkins movie. So deserving. I wish it never went away.
An Act of God
April 6- 22, 2018
A comedy asking why God's such “a jealous, petty, sexist, racist, mass-murdering narcissist.” That about covers it.
Three “Memphis” Tenors … and a Baritone*
Conceived and musical direction by Jeff Brewer
Performed by Philip Himebook, Charles McGowan, Kevar Lane Maffitt and Charles “Chuck” Hodges
July 7 - 23, 2017 Not part of the regular subscription season.