By Pete Zamplas- Flat Rock Playhouse unveils its 67th season and brand new seats, to invigorate patrons’ minds and ease backs and posteriors.
Single tickets go on sale Jan. 14, at 10 a.m., while season ticket sales are underway.
The new seats are due in this month, ahead of the season that starts on Valentine’s Day. The seats replace ones that mostly are 60 years old, often creak and sink, and are older than most plays FRP performs.
Producing Artistic Dir. Lisa Kanoy Bryant told patrons at the season “Reveal” preview Oct. 22 that the new seats provide state-of-the-art comfort with “molded, high-density padding.” Seat placement will be staggered for greater visibility, rather than one’s seat right behind the seat in the row ahead.
“We know that seating is a priority for your comfort,” Bryant told the crowd. She credited Asheville Head, Neck and Eyes as a prime sponsor of such upgrades.
Patrons with hearing aids will also hear dialogue better, by plugging their devices into an amplification system that raises volume and filters out background noise. Aisle lighting will brighten, to help patrons better find their seats.
Donors can each get a plaque with her or his or a family name laser-engraved on it, on the back of a seat in the Clyde and Nina Allen Mainstage. About 20 front-row seats are available, at $1,000 each to sponsor. The rate is $500 for the second or third row with about 40 seats remaining, and $250 for the fourth row and beyond. There are 440 total seats.
“Ticket sales pay only 45 percent of our operating expenses,” Bryant noted. “We depend on the Annual Fund to pay the bills, and continue to provide the quality entertainment that you have come to know and love.”
She noted that FRP closed its auxiliary Playhouse Downtown to downscale and “focus on the land, the buildings, and the storytelling that launched the (Robroy and Leona and son Robin) Farquhar family legacy.” FRP is at Greenville Highway and Little River Road in Flat Rock and put on shows there. All 2019 productions will be there, including a handful of ones previously fit for Music on the Rock downtown.
FRP turned its public announcement of its new season’s productions into a public event, and an entertaining production. There were snippets from various upcoming shows performed by Flat Rock Funnyman Scott Treadway, Bryant, Paige Posey and her husband and WTZQ 1600 morning crew colleague Mark Warwick, zany pianist Nat Zegree and singer Katie Barton-Hope who were in FRP’s recent Christmas musicl.
Bryant said themes pay “homage to family, love and adventure.” The annual patron survey in the summer gave input into selection of the 16 productions.
The season opener is The Music of The Beatles and Eagles (Feb. 14-17), led by Dustin Brayley and with Eric Anthony and others. Brayley is touring with the esteemed Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The L.A.-based singer-guitarist has been in two Beatle tribute acts.
Brayley has sung gritty John Lennon and Don Henley lead vocals in tribute acts at FRP that included Ryan Guerra and Aaron LaVigne for The Beatles and also with Anthony. Anthony was in The Million Dollar Quartet (MDQ) at FRP in ’16, as Carl Perkins’ bassist brother Jay Perkins.
Next is Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book on March 15-30. A second family adventure is C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Nov. 8-17) set in magical Narnia.
Comedies are Sylvia! (April 5-20), Proposals by Neil Simon (May 17-June 1), Separate Beds (July 11-20), and Rounding Third (Aug. 29-Sept. 8).
The Turn of the Screw (Oct. 24-Nov. 2) is an intense psychological thriller. It is about a governess who senses two ghostly figures at the English country house, and finds out if the family’s children also sees them and if they are real or imaginary. This is the modern stage adaption of Henry James’ 1898 novella.
Musicals are Rodgers and Hammerstein’s WWII classic South Pacific (June 7-July 6) that is among at least three shows Bryant will direct, All Shook Up (July 26-Aug. 18) the 2004 stage version of the film starring Elvis as adventurous motorcyclist Chad, Cinematastic (Sept. 13-28) with song and dance of movie hits, Smoke on the Mountain (Oct. 4-19) with bluegrass and gospel in the Depression era, and a new edition of the yearly finale A Flat Rock Playhouse Christmas (Nov. 29-Dec. 22).
In addition to those musicals, there are four concerts covering celebrity hits starting with The Beatles and Eagles (“Beagles”) together. That blends two crowd favorites at FRP in recent years. Zegree leads the musical and comical charge in From Mozart to Pop Chart (April 25-28), followed by Country Royalty (May 2-12) honoring music of Hank Williams (Jason Deal) and Patsy Cline (Katie Deal). Bee Gees Gold is Aug. 23-24, starring John Acosta as Barry Gibb.
Zegree, the Michigan Meteor, portrayed Mozart (in Amadeus) and Jerry Lee Lewis (MDQ) in FRP hits. He starred last month in The Natmare Before Christmas!
Zegree told The Tribune he aims to “take the audience on a musical journey” bridging genres and centuries.
Auditions for parts in various FRP plays are coming soon — on Monday, Jan. 21 from 10-5 in Studio 52 classroom facility on the west side of campus. A lunch break is 1-2 p.m. Artists Equity members go first, then non-union applicants. FRP will audition pros in New York City Jan. 29-Feb. 7.
The title role of Sylvia is among roles up for audition. A woman who looks in her twenties will portray the “street smart” Labrador/poodle dog. Audition notes call her “smart, sassy, loving, a comedian,” and states “this is a physically demanding role” to play an active canine.
Bryant directs Sylvia!, then FRP’s next play which is Neil Simon’s Proposals. The comic drama (“dramady”) of 1997 is set in 1953, and full of one-liners. It has nine characters. Four are in their twenties, part of a romantic merry-go-round. An intense law student’s fiancee broke off their engagement, and eyes his buddy the aspiring writer with whom she once had an affair.
The writer is with a dim-witted model, but that could change. A pair in their fifties are divorced. And a gangster “speaks strangely” and requires “comedic chops.”
Separate Beds about romantic “rediscovery” on a cruise stars two “empty nest” couples, in their fifties. One couple is glamorous and affluent, and the envy of the other wife who henpecks her grumpy husband.
Turn of the Screw’s auditioned roles are for a woman in her twenties or thirties as the governess, and man stage age thirties to fifties to play several roles.
Ticket packages for adults include ten shows for $475 (first 10 rows) or else $435, or eight for $391. Single-ticket prices are normally $20-$58 per adult, or $14 per student/child for family shows. Call the FRP box office at 693-0731 for ticket information. Check flatrockplayhouse.org for more on the new season.