Huntington Playhouse in Bay Village has made a few shifts in its season, but both long-time supporters and new audience members should find the essentials little changed this year. The biggest move was changing the number of shows from seven to six. Artistic Director Tom Meyrose explained, “We are now able to give every production a four-week run, and give our patrons a chance to enjoy a fall musical. Also, we can look at some other programs like recitals and workshops to expand our programming.”
The season opened on Thursday with a farce by the amazing Ken Ludwig. In a tribute to the English farces of the 1930s and 1940s, this show, called “The Fox on the Fairway,” has the typical farcical elements of mistaken identities, slamming doors and insane romantic shenanigans. For style, think of the Marx Brothers. This one is about man’s love of golf and is set at a stuffy private country club. “The Fox on the Fairway” runs through June 30.
On July 11, the theater opens “9 to 5: The Musical.” You may remember the movie from 1980 about three female co-workers pushed to the limit by their sexist, egotistical, lying, bigoted boss. They hatch a plan for revenge. The show is equal parts comedy, musical and social justice. “9 to 5: The Musical” features music by Dolly Parton. Meyrose said, “Auditions for this show were encouraging, and I’m excited about directing it.”
Huntington Playhouse always does a show which I refer to as a “moldy classic.” The artistic director suggested that it is better called “a revered masterpiece.” This year, the show is the period piece “Bell, Book and Candle,” about a romance between a genuine witch and a handsome publisher. The lore of the supernatural is the charm of this script. The show runs Aug. 15 to Sept. 8.
What excites me most this season is the musical revue “Swinging on a Star.” I love revues and I’ve not seen this one before. It’s a celebration of the music of Johnny Burke. While you may not know the name, you’ve heard his most famous song, “Pennies From Heaven,” as well as the title song. While most revues have one location, this show moves from a Chicago speakeasy of the 1930s to a USO show during World War II, to the so-called “road movies” of Bob Hope, Dorothy Lamour and Bing Crosby. The finale takes place in the Starlight Supper Club. “Swinging on a Star” runs Sept. 19 to Oct. 13.
The second to last show of the season is “I’ll Be Back Before Midnight,” a thriller set in a remote cabin where a farmer tells the renting couple ghost stories that seem to “come to life” as bodies appear and disappear. A late-fall production, this one performs over Halloween. The season closes with the Huntington holiday show, “A 1940′s Radio Christmas Carol,” in December.
Tickets for all of the Huntington productions are $20, with student tickets generously discounted to $10. Seniors get a discount on Friday and Sunday. The best bargain, however, is a “flex pass,” which is only on sale for the next two weeks. This gives six coupons for any show on any day. Of course, the best way to use it is to see all six of the shows, but the “flex” part means that you can take five friends to one of the productions, or any combination.
For more information on Huntington Playhouse and the season, call 440-871-8333, or go to www.huntingtonplayhouse.com. One final suggestion: Consider taking a picnic and enjoying it on the lake in the Huntington Reservation of the Cleveland Metroparks.