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Playhouse San Antonio held a special event last week to announce its 2017-18 season as well as plans for new programs and collaborations.

The most relevant news for the San Antonio public is that the number of shows will increase in both the Russell Hill Rogers Theater upstairs and the smaller downstairs Cellar, usually reserved for more challenging theatrical fare. In addition, thanks to collaborations and other events, there will be practically no dark weekends at the San Pedro Playhouse.  What I like about the lineup is that most mainstage shows, with the exception of “All Is Calm,” are San Antonio premieres, though a few may be familiar to local audiences thanks to touring Broadway productions that stopped in San Antonio in recent years.

Mainstage highlights include “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15), a musical inspired by Victor Hugo’s iconic novel and the eponymous 1996 movie; and “Million Dollar Quartet,” that features the music of Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins (May 11 – June 3, 2018). Creating shows which bring back popular music from the past, has become quite common in the theatrical world lately. A producer can hardly go wrong with this quartet! The story is based on an actual event. On Dec. 4, 1956, these four artists actually met at Sun Records Studios in Memphis, “resulting in one of the most epic recordings ever,” according to the press release. (See listing below for the entire lineup)

The Cellar offerings include both shows new to San Antonio and a couple that we have already seen at other theaters, such as “The Assassins” and “Wit,” both worth revisiting, however. The fall season will start with “Constellations,” a play by Nick Payne, which, according to the New York Times, “…may be the most sophisticated date play Broadway has seen.” Reading the review got me very interested. Character-driven and smartly written… that’s my kind of play.

Two other interesting choices are: “A Bright New Boise” by rising-star playwright Samuel Hunter, winner of the 2011 Obie Award for play writing; and “Hand to God,” by Robert Askins, a convoluted story of a seemingly independent puppet that causes a lot of trouble. There’s more depth to the play that this brief description implies but that’s all I am going to say here.

In addition, the Playhouse will present an original play, “Aye,No!” written by  Liz Coronado-Castillo  and co-produced with Teatro Audaz.

One of the new developments announced last week was, in fact, a new collaboration with the young Teatro Audaz, a “Latinx” company that the Playhouse is trying to help and mentor. Other announcements dealt with a few educational initiatives that replace long-standing theater arts classes, and a potentially exciting Fresh Ink program which will focus on the development of new plays by up-and-coming playwrights. First up will be the New York-based David Kimple, author of several plays and licensing manager for Samuel French, Inc. Local playwrights may be considered in the future.

To encourage subscriptions, the theater is offering very reasonably priced packages, such 12 shows for $273 or six for $147, with discounts for students, military and seniors. Current season members can purchase season packages starting March 1, 2017, with sales to all others starting March 15.

RHR Theater: “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15); “All is Calm” (Nov. 24 – Dec. 24); “Little Women” (Jan. 26 – Feb. 18, 2018); “If/Then” (Match 16 – April 8, 2018); “Million Dollar Quartet (May 11 – June 3, 2018); “Mama Mia” (July 6 – Aug. 5, 2018).

Cellar Theater: “Constellations” (Oct. 27 – Nov. 19); “A Bright New Boise” (Dec. 29 – Jan. 21, 2018);
“Wit” (Feb. 23 – Match 11, 2018); “Hand to God” (April 13 – May 6, 2018); “Assassins” (June 8 – July 1, 2018); “Aye, No!” (Aug. 10 – Aug. 26, 2018). (www.theplayhousesa.org)

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