Rivertown Theaters announces 2017-2018 season filled with mix of musicals and comedies

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Contemporary and classic Broadway musicals, a novel approach to a venerable comedy and a whole lotta Ricky Graham are among the highlights of the 2017-2017 season announced by Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts in a fundraiser celebration Saturday (Jan. 7).

Rivertown Theaters will go old school by kicking off the season with “Guys and Dolls” but also ups the ante with the season-closing “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” The latter production will be directed by Graham, his third for the company this season, with each of them having a distinct aspect. With “Beauty and the Beast,” it will be the sheer spectacle of the production. With Neil Simon’s “The Odd Couple,” it will be the novelty of having both male and female actors rotating in the lead roles.

Then there’s Robert Harling’s 1987 play, “Steel Magnolias,” set in North Louisiana and the inspiration for the tear-jerker film. Graham also co-wrote, starred and directed (with Jeffery Roberson) in the recent holiday drag spoof, “Steel Poinsettias,” so we should have seen this one coming.

Other productions for the season: “Little Shop of Horrors” and “Million Dollar Quartet,” featuring the music of Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Ferriday’s own Jerry Lee Lewis. This will be directed by Michael McKelvey.

“For our sixth season, we are widening our range of shows to feature titles and music everyone knows and loves,” said Rivertown co-artistic/managing director Kelly Fouchi said in a press release. “There is so much talent in the New Orleans area, so we are very proud to introduce some new directors to Rivertown Theaters. We have great respect for them and their work and know they will bring the same level of excellence we are committed to.”

Fouchi and co-artisistic director Gary Rucker and presented “People of the Year” recognition awards to NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune theater critic Ted Mahne and videographer Bill Blanke at the celebration.

Visit the website for more info.

Herewith is the complete Main Stage schedule, with descriptions provided by Rivertown Theaters in italics.

“Guys & Dolls”
Sept. 8-24, 2017
Directed by David Hoover
Frank Loesser’s celebrated musical comedy about rolling the dice and falling in love under the bright lights of Broadway. “Guys and Dolls” is considered by many to be the perfect musical comedy. This multi Tony & Olivier Award-winning classic is packed with one unforgettable song after another—not to mention loads of romance and charm to spare. With beloved tunes such as “A Bushel and a Peck,” “Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat,” “Luck Be a Lady,” and “The Oldest Established,” there is plenty of toe-tapping to be had. If you are the betting type, you should know that Guys and Dolls is the odds-on favorite to ride to the winners’ circle of your greatest Broadway loves. These gents and dames have an irresistible mix of naughty, nice and classic Broadway pizzazz that will entertain audiences of all ages.

“The Odd Couple” (male & female version)
Nov. 2-19, 2017
Directed by Ricky Graham
Neil Simon’s classic comedy about two mismatched roommates, has enjoyed countless revivals, three TV series and a hit film testifying to the sure-fire hilarity of “The Odd Couple.” Filled with one-liners, slapstick comedy and likeable characters, we’re delivering a one-two punch by presenting the male AND female versions. two different scripts, both written by Neil Simon. Watch the same casts flip roles and switch places as they perform the two different versions throughout the run, proving that gender has nothing to do with being a bad roommate, or a great friend. Audiences can pick and choose their preferred version and are encouraged to come back a second time to experience both shows. We will offer a special “combo package” ticket price for the two-timers! Director Ricky Graham will bring his comedic expertise to the poker game (male) and Trivial Pursuit night (female), assuring a night full of laughter for all.

“Million Dollar Quartet”
Jan. 12-28, 2018
Directed by Michael McKelvey
“Million Dollar Quartet” is the new smash-hit musical inspired by the famed recording session that brought together rock ‘n’ roll icons Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins for the first and only time. On Dec. 4, 1956, these four young musicians gathered at Sun Records in Memphis for what would be one of the greatest jam sessions ever. This thrilling musical brings you inside the recording studio with four major talents who came together as a red-hot rock ’n’ roll band for one unforgettable night. Million Dollar Quartet brings that legendary night to life, featuring a score of rock hits including “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Fever,” “That’s All Right,” “Sixteen Tons,” “Great Balls of Fire,” “Walk the Line,” “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On,” “Who Do You Love?,” “Matchbox,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog” and more. Don’t miss your chance to sing and dance along with some of the greatest of all time!

“Steel Magnolias”
March 2-18, 2018
Directed by Ricky Graham
It’s somewhat of a “Louisiana rite of passage” to experience Steel Magnolias live on stage. If you’ve already had the pleasure, continue the tradition – grab your loved ones and closest friends to share this beloved “comedy that will make you cry!” Six women come together in this hilarious and heartwarming story of life, love and loss in a small North Louisiana parish. At the center of the group is Shelby, newly married and joyfully pregnant, despite the fact that her diabetes could make childbirth life-threatening. Terrified and angry at the possibility of losing her only daughter, M’Lynn looks to her four closest friends for strength and laughter as she battles her deepest fear of death in order to join Shelby in celebrating the miracle of new life. Not just for the ladies, this wonderfully crafted play is a beautiful tribute to friendship, community and the power of the human spirit that will touch the hearts of all theatergoers. Spend an evening celebrating the Louisiana woman …”delicate as a magnolia, but tough as steel.”

“Little Shop of Horrors”
May 4-20, 2018
Directed by Gary Rucker
Feed the need for musical hilarity with this delicious sci-fi smash about a man-eating plant. A deviously delicious Broadway and Hollywood musical hit, Little Shop of Horrors has devoured the hearts of theatre goers for over 30 years. Howard Ashman and Alan Menken (Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Beauty & The Beast, and Aladdin) are the creative geniuses behind what has become one of the most popular shows in the world. This charmingly tongue in cheek comedy features the meek floral assistant Seymour Krelborn who stumbles across a new breed of plant he names “Audrey II” — after his coworker crush. This foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivore promises unending fame and fortune to the down and out Krelborn as long as he keeps feeding it, BLOOD. Over time, though, Seymour discovers Audrey II’s out of this world origins and intent towards global domination! Throw in a trio of sassy, high belting street-urchins, a nitrous oxide loving dentist and a cast of “Skid Row” characters, and you’ve got an evening of “over the top” musical fun for everyone.

“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast”
July 12-22, 2018
Directed by Ricky Graham

“Be our guest!” The Academy Award-winning film comes to life in this romantic and beloved take on the classic fairytale. Step into the enchanted world of Broadway’s modern classic, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” an international sensation that has played to over 35 million people worldwide in 13 countries. The stage version includes all of the wonderful songs written by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman, along with new songs by Mr. Menken and Tim Rice. The original Broadway production ran for over thirteen years and was nominated for nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. This “tale as old as time” is filled with spectacular costume, sets and your favorite characters like Belle, Gaston, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Ms. Potts, Chip and more. Keeping with our summer tradition, we look forward to bringing the community together for family theatre at its best.


Rivertown Theaters announces 2016-2017 season

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Rivertown Theaters for the Performing Arts announces its upcoming seasons with all the “Let’s put on a show!” brio you’d come to expect from the most consistently popular producer of Broadway musicals. And so it was with Tony Award-ceremony grandeur, once again, that the company rolled out its 2016-2107 season Saturday (Jan. 9) with a reception and sneak preview in the venue, complete with co-emcees (and company partners) Gary Rucker and Kelly Fouchi, songs from upcoming shows, and a sneak preview of the upcoming “Sweet Charity.”

It will be the company’s fifth season. For more info, call  504-461-9475 or 504.468.7221 or visit rivertowntheaters.com.

“How do you top last year’s most ambitious season of all musicals? You raise the bar again by presenting a season filled with different, unique, yet challenging and spectacular offerings to appeal to our extremely loyal and appreciative audiences who have supported, cheered us on, and grown with us over the past years,” Fouchi, co-artistic/managing director, said in a press release. “… We are thrilled with the support and response that we have received for each season’s offerings. Topping the ‘best of’ lists, each of the shows last year played to sold out houses and enthusiastic audiences.

“Our goal is to continue to present audiences with productions that are full of high entertainment value featuring some of the area’s most talented performers.”

Rivertown Theaters’ upcoming season will see the following productions: “Let the Good Times Roll” (Sept. 9-25) another musical jukebox from the Big Easy Buddies (“Under the Boardwalk”); “1776” (Nov. 4-20), the 1969 Sherman Edwards-Peter Stone musical about the founding of a nation; “Billy Elliot the Musical” (Jan. 13-29), Elton John’s 2005 adaptation of the the 2000 movie about a boy who dreams of being a dancer; “The 39 Steps” (March 10-26, 2017), Patrick Barlow’s satire of both John Buchan’s novel and Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller; “Bye Bye Birdie” (May 5-21, 2017), the Michael Stewart-Lee Adams musical send-up of the Elvis Presley mania of the 1950s; and “The Little Mermaid” (July 13-23, 2017) Alan Menken’s 2008 adaptation of the 1989 Disney animated musical blockbuster.

At Saturday’s preview/fundraiser, which included an auction, the company recognized the contributions of “Volunteers of the Year”: Jane Hirling (Kelly Fouchi’s mother) and Kenner City Councilman Keith Reynaud.

Here is a breakdown of those productions, with descriptions provided by Rivertown Theaters:

“Let The Good Times Roll”
Sept. 9-25, 2016
Directed by Rich Arnold

“The Big Easy Buddies are back with an all new show! Since their crowd pleasing, sold out hit show “Under The Boardwalk” here at Rivertown Theaters, patrons continually request that we bring back The Buddies. So here they are kicking off our 2016-2017 season, and bringing their tight harmonies and slick choreography to your favorite doo-wop, Motown and rock ‘n’ roll hits, including classics inspired by the city of New Orleans. ‘The Buddies’ will again be joined by the dazzling ‘Big Easy Babes’ with their nod to the girl groups and diva anthems of the 1950’s and ’60’s. The great American Radio Songbook comes to life in a rollicking musical event that promises all the spectacle, excitement and extraordinary talent our audiences have come to expect. The Times-Picayune says, ‘The non-stop energy the quartet brings to the stage is positively infectious and makes the show a treat not just for those audience members who heard this music originally on jukeboxes at the malt shops. It is a night for the entire family to enjoy.’ ‘Let The Good Times Roll’ will have audiences smiling and singing along, proving that retro never sounded so new!”

Nov. 4-20,2016
Directed by AJ Allegra

“What better time to celebrate the birth of America’s independence than during an election year … and what better way than with a Tony Award winning musical set in 1776? The turning point in American history blazes to vivid life in our November musical offering, ‘1776.’ A funny, insightful and compelling musical with a striking score and legendary book, ‘1776’ puts a human face on the pages of history. We see the men behind the national icons: proud, frightened, uncertain, charming and ultimately noble figures determined to do the right thing for a fledgling nation. Step back in time and be inspired by our founding fathers as they attempt to convince Congress to vote for independence from the shackles of the British monarch by signing the Declaration of Independence. This uplifting musical will have you beaming with pride and patriotism.”

“Billy Elliot, the Musical”
Jan. 13-29, 2017
Directed by Kelly Fouchi

“Millions of fans … Thousands of standing ovations … 10 Tony Awards including Best Musical … this is ‘Billy Elliot The Musical,’ the spectacular show with the heart, humor and passion named Time Magazine’s “Best Musical of the Decade!” Based on the international smash-hit film and featuring a score by music legend Elton John, ‘Billy Elliot’ is an astonishing theatrical experience that will stay with you forever. Set in a northern English mining town, against the background of the 1984 miners’ strike, ‘Billy Elliot’ is the inspirational story of a young boy’s struggle against the odds to make his dream come true. Follow Billy’s journey as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class where he discovers a passion for dance that inspires his family and community and changes his life forever. Join us for this powerful story that has captivated audiences around the world. Contains adult language, PG-13.”

“The 39 Steps”
March 10-26, 2017
Directed by Ricky Graham

“This two-time Tony Award winner is currently enjoying a second run on Broadway and is in its 10th year of performances in London’s West End. The 39 Steps is a comedic spoof of the classic 1935 Hitchcock film, with only four actors portraying more than 150 characters, sometimes changing roles in the blink of an eye. The brilliantly madcap and gripping comedy thriller follows our dashing hero Richard Hannay, as he races to solve the mystery of ‘The 39 Steps,’ all the while trying to clear his name! This ‘whodunit, part espionage thriller and part slapstick comedy’ is great fun for everyone from 9 to 99. The show’s uproarious fast pace promises to leave you gasping for breath … in a good way!”

“Bye Bye Birdie”
May 5-21, 2017
Directed by Gary Rucker

“Before Beatlemania, before Beiber Fever, came hip-swingin’ teen idol Conrad Birdie (loosely based on Elvis), who, to the dismay of his adoring fans, is about to be drafted into the army by Uncle Sam. In Bye Bye Birdie, the 1950’s rock-n-roll musical comedy, Birdie’s agent, Albert and his secretary/girlfriend, Rosie, cook up a plan to send him off in style. They must write Birdie a new hit song and have him bestow “one last kiss” on a lucky fan, live on the Ed Sullivan Show. A town full of colorful characters including crazed teenagers, a jealous boyfriend, and a spotlight stealing father make for a rollicking good time. In addition to the popular silver screen adaptation starring Ann Margaret, Bye Bye Birdie is a Tony Award winner for Best Musical and features such beloved songs as ‘Put on A Happy Face,’ ‘Kids,’ ‘The Telephone Hour’ and ‘A Lot of Livin’ To Do.'”

“The Little Mermaid”
July 13-23, 2017
Directed by Ricky Graham

“Based on the Disney animated film, the hit Broadway musical, and one of Hans Christian Andersen’s most beloved stories Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’ is a hauntingly beautiful love story for the ages. In a magical kingdom fathoms below, we meet Ariel, the little mermaid who is tired of flipping her fins and longs to be part of the fascinating world on dry land. Joining her are Sebastian, Ariel’s crabby sidekick; Ursula, the evil sea witch; Triton, King of the Sea and the handsome and human Prince Eric. Dive on in! Life is the bubbles, under the sea! Reserve the best seats early for your little guppies, our summer family shows sell out quick!”