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Pioneer Theatre hosts Broadway's 'Bright Star' in three-musical season

Published March 3, 2017 9:56 am

Stage • The local regional theater's season is filled with local and regional premieres.
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For the first-time ever, Simmons Pioneer Memorial Theatre will host a preview of a Broadway touring production.

Steve Martin and Edie Brickell's "Bright Star," which earned critics' praise for its "winsome country and bluegrass" score, will preview in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City before a national tour.

It will be part Pioneer Theatre Company's three-musical 2017-2018 season, which opens with a Utah premiere of the Tony Award-winning "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time," and closes with a local production of the ABBA jukebox musical "Mamma Mia!"

The professional nonprofit company's season also includes a world premiere of Jeff Talbott's "i," billed as a "mysterious love story" set in the near future, which received a staged reading in January in the company's Play-By-Play development season.

Other shows include a December run of "Newsies," Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night," and a comedy sequel, Ken Ludwig's "Trio of Tenors," which the playwright considers a new chapter featuring beloved "Lend Me a Tenor" characters.

PTC artistic director Karen Azenberg calls the lineup "fresh" for its range of beloved titles and new works. She jokes she's going to start training tomorrow to get in shape to choreograph "Newsies," the kind of big song-and-dance show she's known for directing.

The January "Bright Star" run is one of a series of new-theater-model tryouts by the company, following last season's production of Sting's "The Last Ship," and its 2015 transfer of "Peter and the Starcatcher" to Dayton's Schuster Performing Arts Center.

It's a nice "get" of a notable show that should have a lot more life, says Azenberg, who made the deal thanks to her longtime friendship with producer Joey Parnes, whom she's known since high school.

"Bright Star," which had a short run on Broadway in 2016, might have been overlooked by theatergoers thanks to the juggernaut of "Hamilton," Azenberg says.

So it's fitting that PTC is attempting to take advantage of the title this season, when the touring show of "Hamilton" will play as part of Salt Lake City's Broadway at the Eccles series. (MagicSpace presenters, a local for-profit company, will announce dates for "Hamilton" and the rest of its theater slate on March 8.)


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Pioneer Theatre Company's 2017-18 season

"The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" • Sept. 15-20. Simon Stephens' 2015 Broadway adaptation of British writer Mark Haddon's 2003 murder mystery, narrated by a 15-year-old boy who describes himself as "a mathematician with some behavioral difficulties."

"A Comedy of Tenors" • Oct. 20-Nov. 4. Playwright Ken Ludwig's new chapter to his well-loved 1989 farce "Lend Me a Tenor," which was adapted into a 2007 musical at the Utah Shakespeare Festival. The new comedy, set in Paris, features many of the same characters we know from the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, including Max, now an aspiring opera singer.

"Newsies" • Dec. 1-16. The song-and-dance Disney musical inspired by a 1899 paperboy strike in New York City. Utah theatergoers turned out in droves for two runs of the touring show last June and August. The 2012 Broadway musical, adapted from the 1992 Disney film, won a Tony Award for its score, and its run was extended for more than 1,000 shows, hitting records as the highest-grossing show of the Broadway season.

"Bright Star" • Jan. 12-27. A love story of a musical by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. Set in the 1940s in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains, the musical stars what The New York Times called "a winsome country and bluegrass score."

"i" • Feb. 16-March 3, 2018. A world-premiere of Jeff Talbott's play set in the near future. It is billed as a "mysterious love story," and it's about a woman with no memories who reconnects after a tragedy with a man who remembers everything. The play received a staged reading in Pioneer Theater's Play-By-Play development series in January.

"Twelfth Night" • March 30-April 14. The classic Shakespeare rom-com about mistaken identities and gender-bending disguises, centered on the story of twins Viola and Sebastian, who are separated after a shipwreck.

"Mamma Mia" • May 11-26. A regional production of the well-loved, much-toured Broadway jukebox musical. Book by Catherine Johnson, featuring ABBA songs by Benny Andersson and Bj√∂rn Ulvaeus.


Prices • Packages range from $105-$325. Single tickets for musicals will be $42-$64, with other plays ranging from $25-$44. To subscribe or renew, call 801-581-6961, or visit pioneertheatre.org or the theater's box office at 300 S. 1400 East, Salt Lake City.

To purchase • Current season ticket holders will soon receive renewal notices and may reserve current seats before June 30. New subscriber orders will be filled in the order in which they are received at 801-581-6961 or at the box office, 300 S. 1400 East, Salt Lake City.

Also • Titles and dates for theater's concert staging and Play-By-Play development season will be announced later.






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