When it comes to putting together a season of theater, the secret is to go for the laughs.
“Our patrons, our longtime patrons, want comedy,” said DeAnna Hargrove, managing director of Tyler Civic Theatre Center. “It can be classical, a romantic comedy. It doesn’t really matter. They want to come to the theater and laugh.”
And there is one other element, that theater patrons just cannot live without.
“And you have to have a holiday show,” she said. “One season we didn’t have one and I thought they were going to kill me.”
TCTC then fills out the remainder of its season with a summer musical and plays that tend to be more serious in nature, often literary classics adapted to the stage.
Hargrove said that within the specific genres, plays are selected using recommendations from committees, the directors and staff.
With the 2014-2015 season, TCTC has all its bases covered.
The season begins on July 10 with “Hairspray,” the summer musical production.
Against the backdrop of a 1960s’ teenage dance show, “Hairspray,” deals with topics such as race relations, body image, ambition and changing American society. In 2003, the musical won eight Tony Awards.
The production will feature Emily Hinkie as the big-voiced and dance happy Tracy Turnblad; Roger Pharr as his mother, Edna (a part traditionally played by a man); and Walker Delk as dance show host Link Larkin.
Justin Purser and Stephen Rainwater are the directors, Grace Johnson is the musical director and Shelby Anderson is the choreographer.
The Entertainment Series, which can be purchased as a package, includes five comedies: “Havey,” Clue – The Musical,” “A Tuna Christmas,” “Second Samuel,” and “100 Lunches,”
“Harvey” is about a (possibly) crazy man with an imaginary friend – an oversized rabbit. The story was made into a popular film in 1950 starring James Stewart. “Clue – The Musical,” is a murder mystery based on the popular board game and featuring a colorful set of suspects. “A Tuna Christmas” features the holiday adventures of the inhabitants of small-town Tuna, Texas. “100 Lunches – A Gourmet Comedy” takes place during a series of madcap lunches. “Second Samuel” is billed as a poignant comedy and is centered on a death.
Also on tap are “The Jungle Book,” Rudyard Kipling’s story of a boy raised by animals in the jungle; “Treasure Island,” the adventures of Long John Silver and his swashbuckling pirates; “The Elephant Man,” a drama based on a horrible deformed man.
One of the performances of “Clue – The Musical,” will be offered as dinner theater and “100 Lunches” will include one luncheon performance.
Hargrove said a tenth show, a world premiere of a play, will be announced later.
The Tyler Civic Theatre Center is located on the East Texas State Fairgrounds, 400 Rose Park Drive. Evening performances are held at 7:30 p.m. and matinees are at 2 p.m.
Tickets and season passes can be ordered by calling 903-592-0561 or on TCTC’s website, tylercivictheatre.com.