17. A Month of Musicals, Part I – Crowns, Bye Bye Birdie, and Into the Woods, Jr.
For those interested in musical theatre, our local companies have you covered this Spring. Over the next month, there will be at least six musicals, as each of the theatre companies across the Alexandria-Pineville area will be making their contribution. While many of these are classics, others are local favorites. Regardless, all should be excellent shows.
City Park Players launched Central Louisiana’s “Month of Musicals” last weekend with the opening of Crowns. I was there on opening night, and thoroughly enjoyed the show. Crowns playfully satirizes the hats traditionally worn to church by African-American women and in the process revisits many fond memories stirred-up by the often outrageous hats. Music is very much at the center of this play: while there is a clear generational conflict between the church-goers’ traditions and the young Yolanda’s rebellious inclinations, it is music which underlines this skirmish as the traditional elements of spirituals and gospel music clash with Yolanda’s angst-filled rap. Crowns will continue its run for three additional showings: visit the Hearn Stage in downtown Alexandria tonight or tomorrow evening at 7:30 PM, or catch the matinee on Sunday afternoon at 2:30 PM to see this excellent production by City Park Players.
Across the river in Pineville, Theatre Louisiana College has started its run of Bye Bye Birdie. This popular musical revolves around the Elvis Presley-inspired teen idol Conrad Birdie as he makes one final appearance before having to depart with the army. Bye Bye Birdie features the familiar song “Put on a Happy Face” as well as other music by Charles Strouse who is also known for contributing the music for Annie. This production will run both this weekend and next at the Martin Performing Arts Center on the campus of Louisiana College. The show will begin at 7:00 PM on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays and at 2:00 PM on Sundays.
Alexandria Country Day School and LBM Productions will stage Into the Woods, Jr. tonight and tomorrow at Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center. This junior adaptation of an award-winning musical by Stephen Sondheim brings new life to familiar fairy-tale characters. There will be one showing tonight at 7:00 PM and two more tomorrow at 2:00 PM and 7:00 PM.
This Month of Musicals will continue into early April. For starters, Holy Savior Menard Theatre Arts will present the classic Rodgers and Hammerstein collaboration Oklahoma! April 3-6 at Coughlin-Saunders Performing Arts Center. Then, April 4-6 and 10-13, the LSUA Empty Space Players will present Sondheim’s A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum at the newly-dedicated Richard Gwartney Theatre on the campus of LSU Alexandria. Finally, Pineville High School will present Fiddler on the Roof at the Pineville High School Auditorium April 10-13.
Check back soon for more information on these and other great music events coming to Central Louisiana over the next month. Until Part II of this entry, hope you have a chance to enjoy some great musical theatre!
About Jackson. Jackson Harmeyer is a recent graduate of the Louisiana Scholars’ College – Louisiana’s designated honors college located on the campus of Northwestern State University. There, he studied music history, completing an undergraduate thesis entitled “Learning from the Past: The Influence of Johann Sebastian Bach upon the Soviet Composers.” Now living in Alexandria, he is one of the founding members of TicketCentral and will also be writing this season’s program notes for the Rapides Symphony Orchestra.