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.


Local events heading

  Today is Thursday, July 31, the 212th day of 2014. There are 153 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: A corps of surgeons now occupies the new hospital quarters at the Garrison Hospital on the Rock Island Arsenal. A fence has been installed to enclose the prison hospital.
1889 -- 125 years ago: B. Winter has let a contract to Christ Schreiner for a two story brick building with a double store front on the south side of 3rd Avenue just west of 17th Street. The estimated cost was $4,500.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Germany sent simultaneous ultimatums to Russia and France, demanding that Russia suspend mobilization within 12 hours and demanding that France inform Germany within 18 hours. In the case of war between Germany and Russia, France would remain neutral.
1939 -- 75 years ago: Civil service offices at the post office and the Rock Island Arsenal were swamped as more than 700 youths sought 15 machinist apprenticeships at the Arsenal.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Last night, American Legion Post 246 in Moline figuratively handed over the trousers to a female ex-Marine and petticoat rule began. Olga Swanson, of Moline, was installed as the first woman commander of the post .
1989 -- 25 years ago: The Illinois Quad City Civic Center captured the excitement and interest of a convention of auditorium managers this weekend in Reno, Nev. Bill Adams, civic center authority chairman, said the 10,000-seat arena planned for downtown Moline has caught the eye of construction firms, suppliers, management teams and concession groups.

(More History)