Summer has begun! I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day and that your summer is off to a great start. There are a number of ways to celebrate the warmer months, many of which can be done right around us. One great option is The Totem Pole Playhouse, who have been rehearsing five shows for the upcoming summer season. Here are the details for each show, their dates, and respective ticket prices.
The first show of the year, by the time you read this, has already started its run. It’s a play with a plot that might ring a bell: Driving Miss Daisy, a film adapted from the stageplay written by Alfred Uhry. For those of you who may not have seen this film, here is a general synopsis. This play centers around two characters, Daisy Werthan and Hoke Coleburn, living in Atlanta in 1948. Daisy is in her later years, age 72, and has just been in a traffic accident. Her son, Boolie, is telling Daisy that he would like to hire a driver for her to avoid any more accidents in the future. He hires Hoke Coleburn, a 60-year-old unemployed black man for the job. The play explores the relationship between these two characters in the midst of a historically contentious period in the South.
The show hosts some seasoned actors who have starred in many professional productions. Michael Learned stars as Daisy, a four-time Emmy Award winner for Best Actress, famous for her roles in The Waltons, The Young and the Restless, General Hospital, among many others. Lance E. Nichols performs the character of Hoke, having starred in Treme, House of Cards, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The curtains rose on May 28, and will continue until June 11. 2 p.m. showings take place on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, with 8 p.m. showings Wednesday through Saturday. Tickets for this performance run for $35 a seat.
While Driving Miss Daisy is a moving drama, maybe you’re looking for a musical? Or a comedy? Well, The Drowsy Chaperone is a musical within a comedy! The Drowsy Chaperone, the winner of five Tony Awards and seven Drama Desk Awards, first premiered in 1997. This play centers on a young man known only as “The Man in Chair,” a downhearted Broadway fanatic looking to lift his spirits by listening to a recording of a fictional Broadway musical called The Drowsy Chaperone. As he begins listening to the record, the play takes place in front of him, relaying the story of the day of a wedding between oil tycoon Robert Martin and Broadway star Janet Van De Graaff. The musical itself is a riveting experience, with comedic relief given by The Man in Chair to the audience, invisible to members of the play.
The stars of the show have extensive experience in the world of theater. Daniel Plimpton performs the role of oil tycoon Robert Martin, having performed on the US Tour of Spring Awakening as Ernst Robel. Beth DeMichele plays Janet Van De Graaff, a role that she has taken on before with the Wagner College Theater in Staten Island. She has many other performances under her belt, having starred in Legally Blonde, Les Misérables, The Wedding Singer and Hairspray. Other notable performers include Elizabeth Broadhurst as The Drowsy Chaperone, with experience playing in a national tour of Annie and Mary Poppins, as well as Ray Ficca as Adolpho who starred as Flan in Six Degrees of Separation.
The Drowsy Chaperone will have three preview performances, taking place on Friday June 16 and Saturday June 17, with 8 p.m. showings on both days and a 2 p.m. showing on Saturday. Tickets to these performances only cost $20 a seat! The show will run from June 20 through July 2, with matinees scheduled for the same days of the week as Driving Miss Daisy. Ticket prices during this run are priced at $50 each.
The next performance is a musical called I Love A Piano. This work is a celebration of the music of Irving Berlin, widely regarded as one of America’s greatest songwriters. He was an incredibly prolific musician, having written around 1,500 songs in his lifetime, along with writing the scores for nineteen Broadway musicals and eighteen Hollywood films. Even if you don’t know Irving Berlin by name, you certainly know some of his output, including songs like White Christmas, Happy Holiday (famously sung by Bing Crosby), and his most famous song God Bless America.
Such an accomplished songwriter deserves a touching and memorable tribute, and that is exactly what I Love A Piano offers. Instead of following a human character, I Love A Piano tracks the journey of a piano from the turn of the century to the modern day. Along the way, after entering into the lives of many different people, the story comes to life through some of Berlin’s work, with songs like Puttin’ On The Ritz, Cheek to Cheek, and How Deep Is The Ocean. Some high capable performers will play the roles of those who receive the piano throughout its journey, such as Jane Labanz, Johnathon Rayson, Taylor Knapp and Shawn Martin.
This show will run from July 7 – July 23. Like The Drowsy Chaperone, there will be three preview performances on July 7 and 8 that run at $20 a ticket. From July 9 to the 23rd, tickets will be $50 a seat.
The Totem Pole Playhouse has two more plays set for performance near the end of the summer in August. The first is one you may have heard of, Million Dollar Quartet. If you haven’t, it’s a jukebox musical that opened on Broadway in 2010. The play focuses on four famous artists, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, and Elvis Presley at the Sun Record recording studio in Memphis, Tennessee on December 4, 1956. The musical has some musical numbers based on songs that you are almost certainly familiar with, with Presley’s Blue Suede Shoes, Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues, and Lewis’ Great Balls of Fire. This musical will be at The Totem Pole Playhouse from July 28 through the 20th of August. Three preview shows are scheduled for the 28th and the 29th, with tickets at $20 apiece. Tickets, like the other two plays, will run at $50 a seat.
The last play, with a shorter run, is Love Letters. Two famous actors, Meredith Baxter and Michael Gross from Family Ties, star as two characters who lived together earlier in life, then went off in different directions. Even though they separated, they still share their confidences with touchingly personal and intimate detail throughout the course of their lives. The nature and extent of these letters is shared with the audience, creating a funny, evocative and moving experience that is definitely not one to miss. This play will be at The Totem Pole Playhouse from August 22 – August 27. Due to its short run, there are no preview performances, but tickets are reasonably priced at $35.
If you’re interested in attending any of these plays, more details can be found at The Totem Pole Playhouse’s website at totempoleplayhouse.org, or by contacting their ticket office at (717) 352-2164!