Inside JCPRD: “Something Rotten” and Disney’s “Descendants: The Musical,” launch Theatre in the Park’s 2022 outdoor season

By David Markham

A Renaissance-set musical farce and a story of beloved Disney heroes and royalty in the kingdom of Auradon kick off the Theatre in the Park’s 53rd outdoor season in Shawnee Mission Park during June.

“Something Rotten,” which is Rated PG-13, will be on the park’s stage June 3 through 5, and June 8 through 11, while Disney’s “Descendants: The Musical,” which is Rated PG; will be presented on June 17 through 19, and June 22 through 25.

Also during June, the first two films of the 2022 Movies in the Park program, “Sing 2” and “LUCA,” will be presented on the outdoor stage at TIP.  This year, a total of 11 family-friendly films will be shown at three locations and admission is free, thanks to thanks to the support of The Parks & Recreation Foundation of Johnson County, Arvest Bank, and JE Dunn.

Please note that the Renner Road Bridge on Interstate 435 has been demolished and will not reopen in time for TIP’s 2022 outdoor season. This means that patrons will need to access the theater by getting off at I-435’s 87th St. exit, and proceeding west to Renner Road and north to the theater. The other option for is to get off at Midland Drive exit, proceed east to Lackman Road, south to 79thSt., and west to Renner.

Set in the 1590s, “Something Rotten” tells the tale of brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom who are desperate to write a hit play but are stuck in the shadow of that Renaissance rock star known as “The Bard.” When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, Nick and Nigel set out to write the world’s very first musical. But amidst the scandalous excitement of opening night, the Bottom Brothers realize that reaching the top means being true to thine own self, and all that jazz.”

This show will run approximately 2.5 hours with one 15-minute intermission.

Based on the popular Disney Channel Original Movies, Disney’s “Descendants: The Musical” is a brand-new musical comedy featuring the beloved characters and hit songs from the films. It is present-day, and in the kingdom of Auradon, all of Disney’s beloved heroes and royalty are living happily ever after, safe from the terrifying villains and troublesome sidekicks they have banished to the magic-free Isle of the Lost. That is until Ben, the benevolent teenage son of Belle and King Adam (The Beast), offers a chance of redemption for the troublemaking offspring of the evilest villains. Mal, Evie, Jay, and Carlos – the children of Maleficent, the Evil Queen, Cruella De Vil, and Jafar – are welcomed to Auradon Prep to attend school with the children of their parents’ sworn enemies. Now entering a completely foreign world and way of life, the four villain kids have a difficult choice to make: should they follow in their parents’ wicked footsteps or learn to be good?

This show will run approximately 110 minutes with one 20-minute intermission.

Other shows in TIP’s 2022 outdoor season are: “School of Rock” based on the 2003 Jack Black movie, Rated PG, onstage July 1 through 9; “Zombie Prom,” Rated PG, July 15 through 23; and “The SpongeBob Musical,” Rated PG, July 29 through Aug. 6.

Much more information about the theater and this year’s productions is available at The Theatre in the Park’s website, theatreinthepark.org.

For outdoor productions, gates open at 7:30 p.m., and shows begin at 8:30 p.m.  General admission is $10 for adults, $6 for youth ages four to ten, plus tax, and free for children three and under, but tickets are still required. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online. “Anytime tickets” available via either ticket-buying method, are not specific to a certain night or performance, and can be printed out at home and scanned at the gate. A limited number of reserved tickets for outdoor chairs are also available for every performance for $20 each.

Continuing in 2022 is Thrifty Thursdays when a 20% discount is offered on Thursday night performances. This makes adult tickets $8 and children’s tickets $4.80, plus tax. The discounted tickets must be purchased at the box office for the specific show.

Visitors to TIP this summer will also be able to view a temporary public art installation called “Symbiosis” by Matthew Dehaemers of Shawnee. A tree slated for removal from a JCPRD park was repurposed into this new art piece. The term symbiosis is described as the interaction between two different organisms living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both. Fascinated by this relationship and inspired by the prairie, Dehaemers’ goal for “Symbiosis” is to emphasize “how important humankind’s role is in its symbiotic relationship with the complex, magical, microworld beneath one’s feet.” This installation is located near the south entrance to the theater bowl. Click here to find out more about Dehaemers’ work.

Also returning are Movies in the Park, a program which lets participants see popular films on an outdoor screen in a park setting

Shows for 2022 Movies in the Park in the bowl at TIP are: “Sing 2,” rated PG, on June 7; “LUCA,” rated PG, on June 21;   Disney’s “Mary Poppins (1964),” rated G, on July 5; “Elf,” rated PG, on July 19; Disney’s “Encanto,” rated PG, on Aug. 2; and a yet-to-be-named film on Sunday, Aug. 7 as part of the free Evening the Park special event; “Clifford the Big Red Dog,” rated PG on Friday, Aug. 12; and “Cars,” rated G on Friday, Aug. 19. In addition, two movies will be shown will take place on the Great Lawn at Meadowbrook Park: “A Bug’s Life,” rated G on Friday, Aug. 26; and “ZOOTOPIA,” rated PG on Friday, Sept. 30. The final Movies in the Park of the season will be “Monsters, Inc.,” which will take place on Friday, Oct. 28, near Shelter #1 in Heritage Park.

The Theatre in the Park’s outdoor location is north of the main entrance to Shawnee Mission Park at 7710 Renner Road in Shawnee. Meadowbrook Park is located at 9101 Nall Ave., Prairie Village. Heritage Park is located at 16050 Pflumm Road, Olathe.

Sponsorships for specific shows are still available, and you can learn more by calling Erika Seward (913) 826-3448 or at erica.seward@jocogov.org.