I’ve started compiling my big list of shows in Richmond for next season (it’s in a tabbed and sorted spreadsheet because, yes, I am that much of a geek). Every year that I do this I’m always impressed. I’ve already got 31 shows listed, which includes the seasons I’ve seen announced from the professional theaters in town plus Theatre VCU. That total doesn’t include the planned productions from local stalwarts like AART, CAT, and the Barksdale (Willow Lawn) and only “Hamlet” noted for Richmond Shakespeare.
What I usually tell my out-of-towner friends is that, on average, one professional show opens per week here in Richmond (my spreadsheet for 2007-2008 has 59 shows opening, starting with "Urinetown" at the Mill last September, continuing until "Little Shop of Horrors" wraps up at Dogwood Dell middle of this August). I’m not sure whether that’s on par with other markets our size or not but it seems pretty impressive to me. Sure, we all want more theater (and especially more and more theater-goers) but while we continue to hope for expansion, I think it’s worth recognizing the width and breadth of what we do have.
Some comments on the schedules announced so far:
-- 2009 will see back-to-back productions of “Altar Boyz” – one at RTP and one at the Mill. This sets up a very nice “compare and contrast” possibility for local theater-goers and critics alike.
-- Two holiday-oriented sequels to other shows: “A Tuna Christmas” (Mill) and “Sanders Family Christmas” (Barksdale at the Tavern). Call me a cynic – this does not thrill me.
-- Favorite upcoming title: “Four Queens in Hawaiian Shirts” at RTP.
-- Several shows I have high hopes for and am awaiting with anticipation: “Side Show” at the Mill, “Richard III” at Henley Street, and “Rabbit Hole” at the Firehouse.
-- Interest most piqued: “Inspecting Carol” at Sycamore Rouge. Fascinating concept – does it work on stage?
-- Most intriguing season as a whole: Henley Street. Shakespeare, Stoppard, Shepard. Perhaps for the 2009-2010 season they’ll focus on playwrights whose names begin with ‘T’?
-- Will Theatre IV ever do “King Island Christmas” again?
I’ll have to do a part 2 on upcoming schedules once the rest have been announced. Would anyone else like to chime in with their thoughts?