July 20, 2014
14-233

Jessica Pope
Communications Specialist

PSST! Season Ends July 27

VALDOSTA — Peach State Summer Theatre fans have just a few more opportunities to catch one, two, or all three of this year’s must-see shows.

The countdown to the end of the summer musical theatre season begins at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, July 23, with “42nd Street.” The last opportunity to see this show is at 3 p.m. on Sunday, July 27.

Based on the novel by Bradford Ropes and the 1933 film adaptation, “42nd Street” revolves around the efforts of noted and notorious Great White Way Director Julian Marsh to mount a successful musical extravaganza stage production at the height of the Great Depression.

According to an online synopsis (http://www.stageagent.com/Shows/view/833), the musical “tells the story of a humble, naïve young actress named Peggy Sawyer who has come to audition for a new Broadway musical. Unfortunately, due to her nervousness, Peggy arrives to the audition late and misses her chance to join the chorus. Luckily, Peggy soon catches the eye of the famous director Julian Marsh, and he gives Peggy her big break. However, the show’s aging leading lady, Dorothy Brock, quickly grows to dislike Peggy.

“On opening night, Ms. Brock falls and breaks her ankle. Panic spreads through the company, as the show is doomed for closure, until it is suggested that Peggy take the role. In only 36 hours, Peggy learns 25 pages, six songs, and 10 dance numbers and becomes a star.”   

Featuring a book by Michael Stewart and Mark Bramble, lyrics by Al Dubin, and, of course, music by Harry Warren, “42nd Street” first opened at New York City’s Winter Garden Theater on Aug. 25, 1980. It later moved to the Majestic Theater and then to the St. James Theater, closing after 3,486 performances. That run was followed by a production in London’s West End in 1984, a Broadway revival in 2001, and tours in the United Kingdom and Asia. The original Broadway production won a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Choreography and Outstanding Costume Design, a Theatre World Award, and a Tony Award for Best Choreography, while the original London production won an Evening Standard Award for Best Musical and a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Musical. The Broadway revival won a Tony Award for both Best Revival of a Musical and Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical.

Final performances for “Smokey Joe’s Café: The Songs of Leiber and Stoller” are set for 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 24, and Saturday, July 26.

“Smokey Joe’s Café” features 38 songs written by American songwriting and record-producing partners Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, either as a duo or in collaboration with other artists. There is no real unifying theme to the show. Rather, the songs are presented by a nine-member cast in various combinations and without dialogue and include such favorites as “Charlie Brown,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Hound Dog,” “Yakety Yak,” “Kansas City,” “Jailhouse Rock,” and “There Goes My Baby.”

“Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, as much as anyone, virtually invented rock 'n' roll,” according to a Peach State Summer Theatre synopsis, “and now their songs provide the basis for an electrifying entertainment that illuminates a golden age of American culture.

“Their songs were recorded by Big Mama Thornton, Elvis Presley, and The Drifters, among others. Set in an idealized setting, ‘Smokey Joe’s Café’ features the classic themes of love won, lost, and imagined, blended with hilarious set pieces and slice-of-life emotions.

“… ‘Smokey Joe's Café’ isn't just great pop music; it's compelling musical theatre.”

“Smokey Joe’s Café” celebrated its world premiere from November 1994 to January 1995 at the Doolittle Theatre in Los Angeles, Calif. It opened on Broadway on March 2, 1995, at the Virginia Theatre in New York City, closing on Jan. 16, 2000, following a 2,036-performance run, making it the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history. 

The last two performances of “Mary Poppins” are set for 7:30 p.m. on Friday, July 25, and 2 p.m. on Saturday, July 26.  

Based on P.L. Travers’s cherished stories and the beloved, classic 1964 Walt Disney film, “Mary Poppins,” according to Musical Theatre International, is “an enchanting mixture of irresistible story, unforgettable songs, breathtaking dance numbers, and astonishing stagecraft that makes it the musical the soars high above the rest.” The stage musical features elements from both the film and the stories, as well as a few original updated elements.

“Mary Poppins” opens with Bert, the chimney sweep, introducing viewers to Cherry Tree Lane, particularly No. 17 Cherry Tree Lane, where the Banks family lives. Jane and Michael Banks are constantly misbehaving, talking back, and fighting and have just chased off another in a long line of nannies. Their dysfunctional parents, George and Winifred Banks, are too consumed with their own issues to adequately address the situation, so they do what they do best and place an advertisement in the local newspaper for a new nanny — only the children decide to take matters in their own hands and write their own advertisement for the perfect nanny.

“Just as Mr. Banks is about to leave for work, Mary Poppins arrives,” according to the Musical Theatre International synopsis for the opening of the first act. “She fits the children’s requirements exactly. Mary Poppins is strict but fair ….”

“Using a combination of magic and common sense, she must teach the family how to value each other again,” the synopsis continues. “Mary Poppins takes the children on many magical and memorable adventures, but Jane and Michael aren’t the only ones she has a profound effect upon. Even grown-ups can learn a lesson or two from the nanny who advises that ‘anything can happen if you let it.’”

“Mary Poppins” features original music and lyrics by Robert B. Sherman and Richard M. Sherman, book by Julian Fellowes, and new songs and additional music and lyrics by George Stiles and Anthony Drewe. It was co-created by Disney and British theatre producer Cameron Mackintosh. 

Peach State Summer Theatre, or PSST!, is Valdosta’s premiere professional summer stock theatre. Each summer, dozens of singers, dancers, technicians, managers, and creators gather on the campus of Valdosta State University for 10 weeks, and during that time, they rehearse, build, and present three musicals in rotating repertory.

The 2014 Peach State Summer Theatre season marks the 25th year of VSU producing professional theatre for the city of Valdosta, the state of Georgia, and beyond. From 1990 to 2004, VSU produced the Jekyll Island Musical Theatre Festival. In 2005, the summer theatre program was relocated to the university and renamed PSST!

The Georgia Legislature designated Valdosta State’s summer stock theatre program the Official Musical Theatre of the State of Georgia.

VSU’s Jacque Wheeler serves as the artistic director of Peach State Summer Theatre. H. Duke Guthrie is the managing director.

The Peach State Summer Theatre box office is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sundays and can be reached by calling (229) 259-7770.

Individual show tickets are $25 for adults and $20 for children, students, and senior citizens, plus sales tax and a $1.50 processing fee.

Shows are performed on VSU’s Sawyer Theatre stage, located on the first floor of the Fine Arts Building at the intersection of Oak Street and Brookwood Drive.

Visit http://www.valdosta.edu/colleges/arts/communication-arts/peach-state-summer-theatre/ to learn more.