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Gretna Theatre has announced its summer plans for 2023.
Grayce Carson, Gretna Theatre‘s public relations specialist, spoke with LebTown about the nonprofit’s 96th season. The season will include five main-stage productions and four Family Series shows, which are “targeted at all-ages audiences,” Carson said.
Carson has a lifelong connection to the region, noting she was born and raised in Limerick, Pennsylvania, and has lived and worked in Montgomery, Philadelphia, and Lebanon counties. She also has a connection to one of Gretna Theatre’s staff members for the summer 2023 season: Michael Philip O’Brien, producing artistic director.
“He is incredible,” Carson said. “We worked together in Philadelphia at his theatre company, 11th Hour [Theatre Company], and that company was in Philly for 17 years. And then, he made his transition to Central PA.”
O’Brien’s wife, Colleen, is a doctor who got a placement in the area after completing her residency.
“So, they are in Central Pennsylvania, which is an absolute gift to Gretna because, I think, under his leadership, there are some really exciting changes under such a historic organization,” Carson said.
Other Gretna Theatre’s staff members for the summer 2023 season include Megan Riggs, managing director; Steve Cargile, production manager; Sheridan Schreyer, associate producer; Adrienne Sperratore, director of marketing; and Kevin Musick, director of development.
Carson said that the nonprofit is “super lucky” to have Riggs, who is coming from the Ephrata Performing Arts Center. Cargile has been with Gretna Theatre for several seasons and “is super integral to the process.” Carson also mentioned that Schreyer and Sperratore are “great additions to the team.”
“They’re a small but mighty team that works to put together this whirlwind of a summer with, like I mentioned, five shows in three months, [it’s] really kind of crazy with then the Family Series sprinkled in between,” Carson said. “Once June comes around, it is a train that just keeps going.”
The open-air Mount Gretna Playhouse, which Gretna Theatre rents along with several other nonprofits, including Gretna Music and the Cicada Festival, was built in 1892.
“Subscriptions are on sale,” Carson said. “That’s kind of the best, most efficient way to see shows all summer long. There are subscriptions available for the mainstage season and then the Family Series.”
The summer 2023 season will open on June 8, with “Jekyll & Hyde” in concert. Gretna Theatre will partner with the Hershey Symphony Orchestra for the production, which will run until June 11.
The production, directed by O’Brien, will feature 12 performers. The production’s music is directed by Dan Kazemi and conducted by Greg Woodbridge.
Carson said that Gretna Theatre is “super excited to have the full live music behind it, [which is] not something that [they] usually get to do outside of Broadway.”
“Together Off Broadway: Merman & Martin” will follow. The production, created and performed by Meredith Beck and Sarah J. Gafgen, will run from June 22 to 25.
Following that, “Gypsy: A Musical Fable,” also directed by O’Brien, will run from July 13 to 16. The production is choreographed by Kathleen Borrelli, and its music is directed by Brigitte Rottman.
Marc Summers of Nickelodeon’s “Double Dare” will visit the area for his autobiographical show, “The Life & Slimes Of Marc Summers,” at Gretna Theatre from Aug. 3 to 6. The production is directed by Chad Rabinovitz, and its music is by Drew Gasparini.
“And the script is written by Alex Brightman, who has a ton of Broadway connections,” Carson said. “He actually originated the role of Beetlejuice in ‘Beetlejuice: The Musical.'”
Carson said that Gretna Theatre is “super excited to have him in Central Pennsylvania,” and that “audiences can expect some interaction. So, if you want to do a Double Dare physical challenge yourself, definitely don’t miss that.”
The final mainstage production of the season will be “Get Happy: Angela Ingersoll Sings Judy Garland,” which will run from Aug. 24 to 27. The production is produced through a partnership with Artists Lounge Live.
Carson described Ingersoll as a “wonderful performer” who “brings Judy Garland back to the stage.”
“I think, for the summer, people can expect a wonderful sampling of something for everybody,” Carson said. “Whether you like traditional music theater, like ‘Gypsy’ is the big musical of the summer, or something a little more unexpected like the ‘Life & Slimes of Marc Summers.’ We also have ‘Artist Lounge Live’ come back with ‘Get Happy,’ which is a Judy Garland show. We have everything from old standards to really unforgettable, one-of-a-kind experiences like the collaboration with the Hershey Symphony Orchestra.”
In terms of other ways Lebanon County residents can get involved with the nonprofit, Carson said, “They can visit gretnatheatre.org to learn about our educational outreach programming. While everything is happening over the summer at [the Mount Gretna Playhouse], we also do offer touring educational shows that can be at senior centers or schools or things like that. So, you could bring Gretna Theatre right to your own backyard.”
Carson said that residents can also donate to the nonprofit online at any time.
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