District Theatre changes season lineup

Posted Online: July 03, 2013, 10:25 am
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By Jonathan Turner, jturner@qconline.com
The musicals "Little Shop of Horrors," "Ragtime" and "Young Frankenstein" have been pulled from The District Theatre lineup later this year, and in their place are the classic courtroom drama "Twelve Angry Men," the revue "Let's Face the Music" and the new one-man show "The Agony and Ecstacy of Steve Jobs."

"Lower than anticipated ticket sales, skyrocketing prices, a myriad of other factors, not to mention the general nature of show business has made it nearly impossible to proceed with business as usual," Tristan Tapscott, the theater founder and artistic director, wrote in the District's "Reasons to be Pretty" program. The moves were necessary to stay in business, he wrote.

"We still want to do quality shows, but make sure we can actually afford to do them," Mr. Tapscott said this week. "It's so expensive to produce a musical."

Royalty costs dramatically have risen in the past few years, and it's typically much more expensive to a produce a musical versus a play, and a newer versus older musical, he noted. Those costs must be paid up front, before any tickets are sold.

The "new vision," which presents a greater variety of plays and musicals, was planned anyway for 2014, but Mr. Tapscott and the board of the nonprofit theater just moved it up. "This is a cost-cutting measure to make sure we're still here," he said.

"We looked at our projected expenses and revenue and made the decision to unveil our newvision for the District Theatre immediately," board president Matt Mercer said. That new vision included changing some of the lineup for the rest of the year and partnering with other arts organizations, he said.

The new offerings begin in August, with "Twelve Angry Men"; "Let's Face the Music," a musical revue featuring Gershwin and Porter songs in September and "The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs" (featuring Ed Villareal on the late Apple genius) in early October. The rest of the year includes the previously scheduled "Rocky Horror Show" in late October, Shakespeare's "The Tempest" in November and the musical "A Christmas Carol" by Mr. Tapscott and Danny White in December.

Earlier this year, the musical "Rent" didn't do as well as expected, and Mr. Tapscott said it's hard to gauge what will succeed. The District's biggestsellers last year "Parade," "Company," and "A Christmas Carol," he noted.


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