The Theatre By The Sea is making history this summer.
For the first time, producer Bill Hanney opened the season with a world premiere – the musical comedy “Love and Other Fables,” in its very first, fully staged production.
After Matunuck, Hanney has his eyes on taking the show to Broadway or London. That’s how much confidence he has in the music and story in this screwball comedy.
“Fables” opened late last month and will play through June 16, but Hanney is enthusiastic about a season that also offers enduring favorites and a more recent hit: “Singin’ in the Rain,” June 19-July 13; the 2012 Tony Award-winning “Newsies,” July 17-Aug. 10; and “Saturday Night Fever,” Aug. 14-Sept. 8.
Written by John McMahon and Jay Jeffries, “Love and Other Fables” takes place in 600 B.C. on the Greek island of Samos. It invents a story about the early life of Aesop, then just an unknown slave, as he creates his now-famous fables, woos the headstrong girl of his dreams, defends rich King Croesus by solving riddles posed by the King of Egypt, and changes the course of history.
In the tradition of romantic comedies, there is love/hate at first sight, mistaken identities, threats of war — plus music, tap-dancing Greek soldiers and lots of laughs.
After the world premiere of “Love and Other Fables,” Bill Hanney, owner and producer at Theatre By The Sea, looks forward to an “easy” production of “Singin’ in the Rain,” adapted by Broadway legends Betty Comden and Adolph Green from their original award-winning screenplay. It tells the tale of actors Don Lockwood and Lina Lamont, an item on stage but less so behind the scenes, and the era when “talkies” began to replace silent movies.
“There are 25 people in the cast, a huge set, huge dance numbers – and it rains!” Hanney exclaims, laying waste to the idea of an “easy” show. Performances are June 19-July 13.
Next is Disney’s “Newsies,” featuring a 2012 Tony and Drama Desk award-winning score by Alan Menken (“Little Shop of Horrors,” “Sister Act”) and Jack Feldman; book by Tony winner Harvey Fierstein (“Kinky Boots”); and some athletic dancing. When titans of publishing raise distribution prices at the newsboys’ expense, one charismatic teen leads his fellow “newsies” in a strike against unfair conditions.
The cast includes the daughter of a TBTS favorite and now Tony Award-winning Broadway actor, Michael McGrath. Katie Clair McGrath plays an ambitious young reporter, Katherine Plumber. Performances are July 17-Aug. 10.
“Saturday Night Fever” is the stage version of the successful 1977 movie starring John Travolta. The main character, Tony Manero, is a paint store clerk by day but a disco dance king by night. When he convinces the talented Stephanie to be his partner in a coming competition, the two start to fall in love – to a score of Bee Gees’ hits. Performances are Aug. 14-Sept. 8.
Summer at TBTS also includes a five-performance Monday Concert and Event Series: Harvey Robbins’ “Royalty of Doo-Wopp,” June 10; A Broadway Celebration starring five Broadway veterans, July 8; two performances of Sandy Hackett’s “Rat Pack Show,” July 29; Christine Pedi’s “Great Dames,” Aug. 5; and Harvey Robbins’ “Superstars of Las Vegas,” Aug. 26.
The Children’s Festival takes place on selected Fridays at 10 a.m. and noon and offers live performances of “Snow White,” Keith Michael Johnson’s “Bubbleology,” Disney’s “Aladin Jr.,” “Little Red Riding Hood” and Magician Scott Jameson.
Hanney is also looking ahead to other projects, including bringing back last season’s well-received production of “Mamma Mia” for a pre-season run at TBTS in the summer of 2020, and expanding this summer to Cape Cod.
Previews for all productions are Wednesdays at 8 p.m. and Thursdays at 2 and 8 p.m. Performances continue Tuesdays through Sundays, evenings and matinees, including additional matinees on selected dates. Subscriptions and individual tickets, the latter ranging from $51-$77, are available at the box office at the theater, by calling (866) 811-4111 or (401) 782-TKTS (8587), or visiting www.theatrebythesea.com.