The Springer Opera House announced the 2011-12 season tonight. There was plenty of pomp and circumstance, as usual.
There were 500-plus people in Emily Woodruff Hall, all cheering, applauding and laughing at the right time.
The first thing on the agenda was the Francis J. Springer Award.
Producing artistic director Paul Pierce began with saying what a good thing the Springer Theater Academy is and it was the the Academy that jump-started the Springer 15 years ago. More than 5,000 students have been affected by their studies.
The first class of students, which numbered about 200, in 1997, is now called the Academy Pioneers. Tonight 11 of them were on stage, and the 12th in the production booth. Three of the group, Kern Clark, Johanna Cabatingan and Hampton Bishop now work at the Springer.
Ron Anderson, director of the Springer Theater Academy and the associate artistic director, got up to the podium and started talking about the academy and what it means to the Springer.
All of a sudden, Michael Stiggers ran up on stage, interrupting Anderson, he told Kern to get up to the podium.
Kern then said the reason they were on stage was to honor Mr. Ron. The 11 on stage got up and told the audience how important the Academy was to them.
It was touching.
Then it was time to announce the season.
"The Official Blues Brothers Revue," Sept. 22-Oct. 2; "Barefoot in the Park," Oct. 20-29; "Cinderella," Dec. 8-23; "Frost/Nixon," Jan. 26-Feb. 4; "Damn Yankees," March 1-17 and "Tuna Does Vegas," May 3-19
"The Honky Tonk Angels," Nov. 10-19; "A Tuna Christmas," Dec. 12-24 and "I Tweeted on My iPad (And I Liked It)."
The Children's Theater series has not yet been finalized.
Beau Bisson, the former Springer touring manager, is now president of Hyperion Productions in New York City. He represents arts organizations like the Springer. He books the Springer Theatricals.
Anyway, he is representing "The Official Blues Brothers Revue," and when Judy Belushi (John's widow) and Dan Ayckroyd told him they wanted to revamp the musical revue into more of a Broadway show, the first person he thought of was Pierce.
In a few weeks, Paul and Beau will be going to California to take a look at the show. Once they've seen it, they'll meet with Judy Belushi and discuss how to make the show better.
It will open the Springer season, and then go on the road.
That means Paul will be revamping the show, probably redoing choreography, costuming, sets, lights and sound.
And for the Columbus run, Jake and Elwood will be on a mission from God, as usual. The Columbus mission is they'll be in town to pay homage to Gertrude "Ma" Rainey, who is also called the mother of the blues.
And of course, Paul calls "Tuna Does Vegas," the "fourth in the 'Tuna' trilogy." This one takes place 10 years after "Red, White and Tuna." Bertha and Arles want to go to Las Vegas to renew their vows. Of course, Arles lets it slip that they're headed for Sin City, which means the whole town of Tuna, Texas, show up. And being a Tuna show, there are some strange characters — a Mafia thug named Shot, who was, as a child, shot in the buttocks by Frank Sinatra; a mystic mind-reader named Anna Conda; a close encounter with two Elvis impersonators and, of course, showgirls.
The other show I'm really interested in is "I Tweeted on My iPad (And I Liked It)." It's written by Adam Archer and Jef Holbrook, who both graduated from Columbus State University's department of theater. They've been involved in the Theater Academy, and Adams now works at the Springer.
The play came out of No Shame Theater, and it will be about social networking. The way I understand it, there's a pretty good outline of the play, but there's going to be plenty of audience interaction.
You're encouraged to bring your cell phone and tweet live! They're also trying to see if they can stream the play live. There's something called chat roulette where you go on a website and talk to a stranger on Skype. They'll somehow put that on a screen live.
Can you imagine?
I think everyone in the audience was intrigued by this show. And there's a plan to write a play based on this for a younger crowd called "My Parents Friended Me (And Grandma Liked It)."
Ticket prices have not gone up. They're the same as this year's.
There are three season ticket packages:
Kit & Caboodle: The whole she-bang, all the shows on Mainstage and Studio II, $90-$243
Mainstage: The six Mainstage shows, $60-$162
Pick Five: Choose five shows from the Mainstage and Studio II series, $90-$145
Season subscriptions are on sale now.
Single tickets go on sale in August. They are $15-$38 for musicals; $15-$35 for plays.