For its upcoming season of productions, HART Theatre has decided to go with a real crowd-pleaser — laughter.
"Laugh Away with HART" is the 2017-18 theme for the Hillsboro based theater company. All of the shows in this season's lineup feature comedic, family-friendly content.
"We decided that, in the current state and climate of things in the country, that we would take a step back," said co-artistic director Paul Roder. "Not that it's not important to focus on those things, we just thought that we'd give a night off to our patrons, and the idea has been well-received so far."
"See How They Run," will kick off the theater's next season. William Crawford, known as a set designer for many of HART's productions and a director of several STAGES Performing Arts Youth Academy plays, will be directing the Philip King-written comedy. The British farce, which was written in 1949, features all of the classic slapstick fare —mistaken identities, lots of slamming doors and over-the-top characters. The comedy is set in a vicarage and promises tons of physical humor. The play will run from Sept. 8 to 24.
The next HART event is not so much a play, but an event that decides what its 2018 summer production will be. The 2017 Page to Stage on Oct. 28 features eight local playwrights and a reading of scenes from each of their scripts. The audience will submit feedback, and the HART committee gathers to select which play will run next year, at a later time.
"Forsooth, My Lovely" will run from Nov. 3 to 19. Written by David Belke and directed by Sarah Fuller, the play is a mash-up of Shakespeare and the noir film genre.
The story follows a modern day detective who gets sent back to Elizabethan-era Italy to solve a murder. As a result, his investigation causes him to run into every Shakespearean character native to Italy. The detective, named Birnam Wood in reference to "Macbeth," falls in love with Kate, from "The Taming of the Shrew."
The set will be made up of mostly black cubes, and black everything, really, to capture the feeling of noir, Roder said.
HART's December show will be "Godspell," and follows Jesus and his 12 disciples. It ends with the Last Supper, and is based on the Gospel of Matthew. The play will run from Dec. 1 to 17, and will be directed by Ray Hale, the theater's board president.
The North American premiere of "Wedding of the Century" will be the first HART production of 2018. Written by Devon Williamson, who also wrote "My Inlaws are Outlaws," a script that ran last season, 'Wedding' follows the story a 90-year-old nun who wants to get married before she dies. Living in a rest home, she enlists the help of her 70-year-old sidekicks to help her fulfill one of the most important parts of her bucket list. Mark Putnam will be directing, and the production will run from Feb. 9 to 25.
That month, HART will also be having its annual Valentine's Night event on Feb. 14. The movie will be announced closer to the date.
The annual Talent Show will return on March 3.
"Think of it as a homegrown HART talent thing — it'll feature singers, skits, scenes, stand-up, dance and other entertainment. It's $10 to get in," said Roder.
Aaron Morrow will be directing "Nana's Naughty Knickers," which will run from March 16 to 31. The play is a broad comedy with a wide-range of farcical humor.
The production tells the story of an elderly woman living in an apartment with her partner. Everything in her life is going great — especially her secret side business of selling lingerie on the internet. All of her inventory is stashed in hidden places, but everything gets upended and complicated when her niece arrives to visit.
HART is closing out the season with a musical extravaganza — "Happy Days: The Musical." The show comes from the original television program's creator, Gary Marshall, with the music written by Paul Williams.
The Chris Byrne-directed affair will see The Fonz trying to save Arnold's Diner from going out of business for good. Patrons can return to the "happy days" of Milwaukee from May 26 to June 18.
Tickets for regular shows this season are $16 for adults, $14 for seniors, and $12 for students. Musicals are $2 more in every category. They can be purchased before the show at the theater, by calling the box office at 503-693-7815, or by visiting www.hart-theatre.org, where more details about the upcoming season can be viewed.
Shows run Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday matinees run at 2 p.m.
"We're feeling very enthusiastic, and we're looking forward to the directors, crews, casts and shows," said Roder. "These people come with real enthusiasm and passion, and the future looks bright."