Drum Roll Please, for Theatre Calgary’s 50th Season

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Theatre Calgary’s artistic director Dennis Garnhum is calling his 2016/2017 season a drum roll, Louis B. Hobson reports for Calgary’s Herald.

“Our 2017/2018 season will be our 50th anniversary season and that kind of landmark requires an exciting drum roll which is what our upcoming season is,” said Garnhum from Thailand, where he is directing a production of West Side Story.

The season will open with Da Kink In My Hair, in which eight women share their personal stories with unbridled honesty, sincerity and joy.

Da Kink In My Hair, Trey Anthony’s hilarious comedy set in a Caribbean style hair salon in Toronto, grew from a fringe show in 2001 to a Theatre Passe-Muraille runaway hit in 2003 to an even bigger show and even bigger hit two years later courtesy of Mirvish Productions.

It eventually became a hit television sitcom.

Garnhum was shocked to learn that despite the show’s appeal and subsequent productions in Canada, the United States and London, it has never been produced in Western Canada.

“I spoke to Trey and asked if she’d be willing to revive the show for a joint production with us and the National Arts Centre, and that’s what she’s agreed to do.

“She has brought back her original director, Marion J. Caffey, and she will reprise her original role and will scour Canada for a new supporting cast,” says Garnhum adding “this is the kind of show I love opening a season with because it is a true party piece.

“It will have people laughing and cheering.”

For TC’s second show, Garnhum is cheering the return of BOOM, Rick Miller’s multimedia history tour of the years 1949 to 1969.

BOOM received its premier at the Max Bell Theatre during the 2014 High Performance Rodeo, courtesy of Theatre Calgary and One Yellow Rabbit.

Since then, it has toured across Canada to rave reviews.

“When it was on our stage two years ago, BOOM was brand new. It may have been flawed but it was still brilliant.

“I call its return in the fall its victory lap because it’s coming back to us.

“It will be different and even more thrilling than it was back then and this will be the reminder that we gave life to a show that has become a certified Canadian hit.”

Over the holidays, Theatre Calgary will present the 30th anniversary version of A Christmas Carol, starring Stephen Hair as Scrooge.

“Last year’s version of A Christmas Carol was the best attended ever, which tells us that Calgarians wants this to be part of the city’s annual holiday celebrations.

“We usually create a whole new production every five years, but this one is so popular we’re just going to tweak it a little.

“It won’t be a new show but it will be enhanced.”

In January, Theatre Calgary will present Peter Morgan’s The Audience, which recalls meetings the Queen had with her many prime ministers, including Churchill, Cameron and Thatcher to name just a few.

This is the show Helen Mirren starred in on Broadway and London’s West End, and in Calgary it will star Seanna McKenna, who has starred in more than 40 productions at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival.

“I have been trying to find the right play to entice Seanna to come to Calgary for 10 years, and when I offered her The Audience she worked it into her schedule for us.

“This is going to be one of the great productions of this play because Miles Potter will be directing Seanna in it.”

One of Theatre Calgary’s most acclaimed recent productions was its stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner.

Theatre Calgary is teaming up with San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater to create a stage version of Hosseini’s novel A Thousand Splendid Suns.

“The Kite Runner was a male perspective of Afghanistan.

“A Thousand Splendid Suns looks at the plight of women in Afghanistan. It is a harrowing story and we’ve learned our audiences want to be challenged as well as entertained, which this play will do.”

The main stage season closes with the toe-tapping, singalong hit Broadway musical, Gershwin’s Crazy for You.

“It’s a wonderful tribute to the 1930s musical with such hit songs as I Got Rhythm, Nice Work if You Can Get It, Someone to Watch Over Me and Crazy for You.

“It’s the kind of musical where beautiful people sing beautiful songs and dance beautifully.”

Theatre Calgary’s Shakespeare by the Bow, meanwhile, will feature a version of Hamlet under the direction of Kate Newby.

Garnhum says, “we are doing everything to make certain Shakespeare has a permanent home by the Bow.”

For several years, Garnhum has talked about creating a second stage for Theatre Calgary and he takes a baby step with that project in February by presenting David Hare’s powerful drama Skylight in the Arts Commons’ Engineered Air Theatre.

“What I want to happen if we have a second stage is for it to be a place where our audiences can get really up close and personal with the actors.

“I want them to have an intense experience.

“This is a pilot project to see if our audiences want this kind of experience or not.

“If it sells out, we’ll program more of these kinds of plays. If no one comes this will be a failed experiment but I honestly think Theatre Calgary’s audiences will embrace it.”

In June of 2016 as part of FUSE TC’s play development festival, there will be readings of Trina Davies’ SILENCE: Mabel and Alexander Graham Bell and Sharon Pollock’s Blow Wind High Water about a family on the brink of destruction during the flood of 2013.

“These are both plays we hope to feature on our main stage in the near future.”

Theatre Calgary is in final negotiations for the play it will host at the 2017 High Performance Rodeo.

Season ticket packages are now on sale.

Check out theatrecalgary.com for more information and prices.

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