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Stage West announces lineup for next season's shows

The playhouse season starts Sept. 6 with Pat Cook's Three Murders and It's Only Monday!, a spoof.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2001


Two popular Broadway musicals, a Neil Simon comedy, the 50th-anniversary edition of an Agatha Christie murder mystery and a spoof of murder mysteries make up the 2001-2002 schedule of shows at Stage West Community Playhouse.

Season tickets will go on sale March 1, said Leanne Germann, publicist for Stage West. Each show runs Thursdays through Sundays for three weeks.

Opening the season on Sept. 6 will be Pat Cook's Three Murders and It's Only Monday!, a takeoff on the old private eye movies. This one has detective Harry Monday investigating three murders at the Peaceful Pines Sanitarium, where a wacky cast of characters keeps throwing him off the trail.

That's followed on Nov. 8 by Frank Loesser and Abe Burrows' Pulitzer Prize-winning musical How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, the comical story of how J. Pierpont Finch scrambles his way up the corporate ladder on the backs on anyone who gets in his way.

The third show of the season, opening Jan. 10, is the 50th-anniversary edition of Agatha Christie's classic, The Mousetrap, a murder mystery set in a remote boarding house during a snowstorm.

Next on the schedule is Carnival, the 1961 show that was the first screen musical to be adapted as a stage musical. Set in a seedy carnival, it's about a waif who joins the carnival and falls for an egotistical magician who breaks her heart and befriends the disillusioned crippled puppeteer. It opens March 7, 2002.

The final show of the season is Neil Simon's autobiographical memory play, Brighton Beach Memoirs, the bittersweet comedy-drama about a lower-middle-class family and all its resentments, rivalries and guilts.

"These are what we are planning, but people should understand that the performance rights could be taken away from us, and we would have to change something," Ms. Germann said. That's what happened this season, when a national touring company decided to do The Music Man after Stage West announced its season. The licensing agent canceled the Stage West contract, forcing Stage West to find another show.

Individual tickets will be $16 for musicals and $14 for plays for adults; and $14 for musicals and $12 for plays for students age 17 and younger. The half-price ticket for students will no longer be offered.

Season tickets purchased between March 1 and 31 will be $60, a savings of $14 for the season. After that, the price for all five shows is $65, Ms. Germann said. Current season ticket-holders have until March 31 to renew their subscriptions and retain their current seats. After that, all unsold seats will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

"The first 300 people who renew will be given a chance to win one free season ticket," Ms. Germann said. "We're hoping this will encourage early renewals."

In addition to the shows in the main auditorium, Stage West is scheduling three shows in the new, 159-seat Forum theater.

The December show will be the holiday musical comedy, Nuncrackers, the latest in the continuing saga of the Little Sisters of Hoboken.

In April, the Broadway Junior edition of the musical Annie, named Annie Jr., will be performed by the youth wing of Stage West. This is a 70-minute version of the original 21/2-hour show.

The final show will be the drama Agnes of God, "for someone who likes something a little heavier," Ms. Germann said. No date has been set for this show.

Ticket prices and exact dates will be announced later.

Stage West is at 8390 Forest Oaks Blvd., Spring Hill. The box office is open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and an hour before each show. Call (352) 683-5113.

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