By David Markham
A Renaissance-set musical farce. Beloved Disney heroes and royalty in the kingdom of Auradon. A substitute teacher tasked with turning his students into a mind-blowing rock band. A girl-loves-ghoul musical set in the atomic 1950s. And a dynamic stage production featuring everyone’s favorite talking sponge from Bikini Bottom.
Those are the shows planned for Theatre in the Park’s 2022 summer season. In all, the schedule for TIP’s 53rd season consists of eight shows, only one of which has ever been produced on the local stage. It includes three indoor productions at The Black Box Theatre located inside the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center, and five outdoor shows on TIP’s outdoor stage in Shawnee Mission Park.
“I think this season, there are quite a number of shows that will appeal to a diverse age group of youth for casting,” said Producing Artistic Director Tim Bair. “There will be lots of opportunities for young performers spread across the entire season.”
Up first is “The Sparkletones,” an original production in the form of a new musical about sisterhood and songs written by Kansas City regional composers and lyricists. The show is scheduled indoors for March 18 through April 3. This show is Rated PG.
Outdoor summer productions will include: “Something Rotten,” which is Rated PG-13, and is on stage June 3 through 11; Disney’s “Descendants The Musical,” Rated PG, on stage June 17 through 25; “School of Rock” based on the 2003 Jack Black movie, Rated PG, July 1 through 9; “Zombie Prom,” Rated PG, July 15 through 23; and “The SpongeBob Musical,” Rated PG, July 29 through Aug. 6.
TIP’s fall indoor production at The Black Box Theatre will be “Always, Patsy Cline,” which is Rated PG, and will take place Sept. 30 through Oct. 16.
The December 2022 production at JCAHC will be “Seussical,” Rated G, indoors at The Black Box Theatre, Dec. 9 through 24.
Of this lineup, only “Seussical” has been produced by TIP before. “Always, Patsy Cline,” is a holdover from the originally-announced 2020 season, which was cancelled due to COVID-19.
“I might be most excited about “SpongeBob,” Bair said. “Honestly, because it is newer and because it has such a HUGE following. I am also excited about “Seussical” for the holidays. I just love the show, and I’m directing. It’s a great show option for families at the holidays.”
“The Sparkletones” will be a world premier.
“This show is by Krista Eyler and Barb Nichols and is based on the real-life story of Krista’s mother and a group of Sweet Adeline singers that she was in a quartette with,” Bair explained. “The writers are long-time TIP folks. We connected about doing the show when we were conversing, and they were describing their latest project to me. They are also the writers of “Overture,” which they presented at a festival in New York and was the 2019 New York Musical Festival Grand Jury Selection.”
2022 auditions are planned for April 9 and 10, and are expected to result in the casting of about 125 performers for this year’s shows. TIP holds open auditions, and no prior experience in theater is needed to audition. Audition information will be available in March, and is announced and posted on theatreinthepark.org and Facebook, and also sent out via the TIP e-newsletter, which you can sign up for at theatreinthepark.org.
Although specific films have not yet been announced, officials anticipate the popular Movies in the Park program will also return in 2022. Through this program, patrons can see popular films on a 40-foot screen on the TIP stage on selected summer nights when musical productions are not scheduled.
Much more information about all of TIP’s productions is available on the Theatre in the Park website.