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'Sister Act,' 'Little Mermaid,' 'Grease' coming to Springer

Springer Opera House announces its 2016-17 season

Excerpts from the Springer Opera House announcement for the upcoming 2016-17 theater season
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Excerpts from the Springer Opera House announcement for the upcoming 2016-17 theater season

Paul Pierce says the Springer Opera House is in a major audience development push.

"We want to attract people who have never visited here before," said the Springer's producing artistic director.

He believes a season full of well-known popular stories is a good way to do it, and that is what is being offered in next season's lineup that was announced Thursday.

"We want to do shows which will cause some people to have their first live theater experience," Pierce said. "This season, we have had our largest Springer audience ever. But we are going to do what we need to keep the audience growing."

The first production of the Mainstage Series is "Sister Act," with music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Glenn Slater. It will run Sept. 22-Oct. 9. Most are familiar with the musical comedy from the hit Whoopi Goldberg movie about a murder witness hiding in a convent who transforms its choir into an R&B powerhouse.

The Mainstage Series show will also feature the brilliance of Menken and Slater with additional lyrics by Howard Ashman in the family favorite, "The Little Mermaid." The live theater production of the classic Disney animated film about a mermaid who wants to be human will be Dec. 2-23.

The Springer turns serious for its third Mainstage Series show. It is John Steinbeck's "Of Mice and Men" about two migrant workers in Depression-era California. The show runs Jan. 19-29.

March is going to come in like a lion with the Mainstage Series show "Grease" by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey.

Featuring familiar hits such as "Greased Lightning" and "Summer Nights," the musical comedy about high school romance in 1959 will be March 2-19.

Another musical comedy finishes the Springer season. "Avenue Q" with music and lyrics by Robert Marx and Jeff Marx won the Tony Award for best musical.

Playing April 27-May 13, the show is about the adventures of a recent college graduate when he moves to an apartment eerily similar to "Sesame Street."

Pierce said two different versions of the show will be presented -- one a little more adult and racier than the other.

The Springer Children's Theater Series in the McClure Theatre will present Joseph Robinette's adaptation of the C.S. Lewis story "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" July 8-24.

It is an exciting tale of four children during World War II who find their way into the magical land of Narnia.

On Oct. 7-16, Roald Dahl's "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" will be presented in the McClure Theatre. The adaptation by Richard George is about children who win a golden ticket and get to visit with Willy Wonka.

Strange and funny things happen in this Springer Children's Theater Series production. The third production in the Springer Children's Theatre Series will be the Eric Coble adaptation of the Lois Lowry story "The Giver."

The show on March 10-19 tells the story of a 12-year-old boy who lives in a perfect world with no pain, no violence, no fear and no choice. Through the mysterious giver, he discovers what it means to grow up, grow wise and take control of his own destiny.

The Studio II series, also in the McClure Theatre, will present "Route 66" by Roger Bean on Nov. 10-20. The show is full of nostalgic songs including the Jan and Dean hit "Little Old Lady From Pasadena" and "I Get Around" from the Beach Boys.

It would not be a holiday season without a production of "A Tuna Christmas." This Studio II Series show by Jaston Williams, Joe Sears and Ed Howard will be in the McClure Theatre Dec. 8-Dec. 23.

On March 30-April 8, the Studio II Series will present "Ace: The Eugene Bullard Story" in the McClure Theatre. In the play, local playwright Natalie Naman Temesgen, a graduate of the Springer Theatre Academy, tells the story of Bullard, a Columbus native who became the world's first black fighter pilot in World War I and worked as a spy in World War II.

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