The Coterie Theatre has announced the six productions that will make up the company’s 40th anniversary season.
Highlighted in the season of two plays and four musicals, selected by Producing Artistic Director Jeff Church, will be the world premiere of a new play about a teenaged Martin Luther King Jr. by noted local screenwriter and playwright Kevin Willmott, and a new musical inspired by music made famous by The Beatles.
“Often theaters use anniversaries to look back at what’s been accomplished,” comments Church. “But, at The Coterie, we serve as an early introduction to live theatre to many of the young people in our audience and those experiences become touchstones that are shared with their friends and classmates, brothers and sisters, parents and grandparents. It inspires us to use this anniversary as not just an opportunity to look back, but as a springboard for what’s coming ahead – how we’ll connect to the next generation. Our mission has always been to open lines of communication between races, sexes, and generations, and this season’s line-up does that well on so many levels.”
The Coterie Theatre’s 2018-19 Season (from the press release):
By Kevin Willmott
September 18th – October 21st, 2018
Kicking off The Coterie’s new season in Fall 2018, will be the world premiere of BECOMING MARTIN, commissioned by The Coterie from Kevin Willmott. A professor of Film Studies at Kansas
University, Willmott is a respected local filmmaker, screenwriter, director, and playwright who recently won the Grand Prix at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival for the feature film, “BlacKkKlansman,” which he co-wrote with Spike Lee.
Written for families with ages 11 and older, Becoming Martin shows the early life and college years of Martin Luther King, Jr., who received early admission, at age 15, to Morehouse College and was personally mentored and challenged by the college’s president, Dr. Benjamin Mays. Continuing The Coterie’s long-standing tradition of commissioning and/or premiering new plays, Becoming Martin will mark the 51st world premiere in its history. It will be produced in community partnership with Big Brothers Big Sisters Kansas City and The Black Archives of Mid-America.
RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER:
November 6 – December 30, 2018
Script adaptation by Robert Penola | Arrangements and orchestrations by Timothy Splain |
Based on the animated television special and the stage production directed and conceived by Jeff
Frank and First Stage | “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” animated television special adapted
from a story by Robert L. May and the song by Johnny Marks, music and lyrics by Johnny Marks |
All elements © and TM under license to Character Arts, LLC.
Rudolph and his friends, Clarice, Hermey the Elf, and Yukon Cornelius learn what makes you different makes you special. As one reviewer put it, “If adorable is at the top of your Christmas list, save an afternoon or evening for Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical… as rich as eggnog!” Recommended for all ages.
MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS
February 26th – March 31st, 2019
Script by Robert Kauzlaric
Music & Lyrics by George Howe
A musical of the Newbery Honor Book by Richard & Florence Atwater
Next winter, The Coterie will also produce a musical adaptation of the literary classic and Newbery Honor Book, MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS. Church elaborates, “This charming musical tale of Mr. Popper’s journey across the U.S. to help his unexpected penguin colony find ‘the life they were meant to lead,’ teaches that what is morally and ethically right – in the end – is always the best
choice.” Mr. Popper’s Penguins is recommended for families with ages seven an older.
SECRET SOLDIERS: Heroines in Disguise
By Wendy Lement
A co-production with UMKC Theatre
January 22nd – February 10th, 2019
“Another production for families with preteens and teenagers will be SECRET SOLDIERS: Heroines in Disguise.” Says Church, “It’s an astonishing look our country’s long history of women in the
military, and, in particular, when they had to disguise themselves as men to serve.” Based on the true accounts of four women who, for different reasons, served as men during the Civil War, SECRET SOLDIERS is an interactive play that weaves together stories from the early suffrage movement, the formation of the first African American regiment in U.S. history, and abolitionist icon Harriet
BEAT BUGS: A Musical Adventure
April 16th – May 19th, 2019
Based on the Netflix original series “Beat Bugs”
Created by Josh Wakely | Written by Sean Cercone & David Abbinanti
Inspired by music made famous by The Beatles
“For families with younger ones, we’ve selected four fantastic musicals,” says Church, “including a new musical based on the Netflix series “Beat Bugs,” which features 14 songs made popular by
The Beatles. There’s no better way for parents and grandparents to share the music of The Beatles with their little ones than through this fun and touching story about community and friendship.” After a scheduled premiere in New York in Fall 2018, The Coterie will mount its production of BEAT BUGS: A Musical Adventure, intended for families with ages three and older.
ELEPHANT AND PIGGIES: “We are in a Play!” Elephant and Piggie’s “We are in a Play!”
June 11 – August 5, 2019
Script and Lyrics by Mo Willems
Music By Deborah Wicks La Puma
One of the most popular and beloved shows The Coterie has ever done returns to the stage! Gerald the Elephant is cautious and Piggie is not. Along with the three nutty Squirelles, these “bestus” friends might get invited to a swimmy fancy costume dancey pool party or decide to spend the day playing ping-pong in silly hats. This lively and irresistibly charming musical look at friendship has become one of the best-selling and most beloved young readers’ series of the past decade.
For more information on The Coterie’s 18/19 season visit thecoterie.org.