Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Springfield Municipal Opera Announces 2017 Show Season



The Springfield Municipal Opera Announces 2017 Show Season

Springfield, IL – November 17, 2016 –The Springfield Municipal Opera (The Muni) announced details for its 2017 summer season including selected productions, show and audition dates and season ticket sales. “The Muni’s 2017 season includes four family favorites, three of which are new to The Muni stage. We are featuring shows that bring back memories from our childhood, teenage years and spending the holidays with family,said Muni President Mike Rogers.

The Muni will present Roald Dahl’s Willy Wonka, directed by Mac Warren and sponsored by Springfield Clinic, from June 9-11, 14-18; Disney and Cameron Mackintosh’s Mary Poppins, directed by Craig Williams II and sponsored by Illini Bank, from June 30-July 2, July 5-9; Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, directed by Joe-Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Cheney and sponsored by Edward Jones, from July 21-23, 26-30; and Grease, directed by Bill Bauser Jr. and sponsored by RSM, from August 11-13, 16-20.

We are expecting to have a whole lot of fun creating a supportive and welcoming team of players as we bring ROALD DAHL’S WILLY WONKA to life on stage for our audiences!” said Warren. “I'm confident our audiences are going to have a wonderful evening of Broadway Under the Stars as we take a fantasy ride into the land of pure imagination!

Mary Poppins is sure to delight the entire family. “All of your favorite songs, scenes and characters will come to life on The Muni stage, or above as it were. We can't wait to bring some more magic to another Disney production,” said Williams II, who directed Disney’s Little Mermaid last season.

The Muni will feature Christmas in July with White Christmas. “We want to bring a classic holiday story to life on The Muni stage, and make a magical family experience for every Muni patron,” said Cheney.  “Our cast will energize and excite with their beautiful singing and terrific dance numbers. We can't wait to start this journey with our Muni family!” said Jackson.

Grease, a Muni favorite, returns to the stage for the first time since 2007. “We are excited to bring an updated family friendly version of GREASE to The Muni stage featuring dance music from the 2007 revival and best loved songs from the original movie version of GREASE,” said Bauser, Jr.  “So, throw your mittens around your kittens and away we go!"

Those interested in auditioning are encouraged to attend the 2017 Audition Workshop on  Saturday, February 18, 2017 at the Hoogland Center for the Arts; the children’s session will begin at 10:00 a.m. and the adults’ at 1:00 p.m. Directors and staff from all four shows will be on hand to discuss casting requirements and answer questions.

Adult auditions for the 2017 season will take place March 4, 5 and 11, with callbacks on March 12. Children’s auditions will take place March 18, with callbacks the same day. More information about auditions will be available on The Muni website in mid-December.

Starting Thanksgiving weekend, The Muni’s 2017 Season Passes will be on sale for pickup at various locations throughout the Springfield area. Patrons may also purchase season passes by calling (217) 793-MUNI for mail delivery. For a full list of season pass retailers, please visit The Muni’s website at www.TheMuni.org.

About The Muni

The Springfield Municipal Opera (The Muni) is a not-for-profit theatrical organization that has become a Springfield summer tradition, providing the best of Broadway to enthusiastic audiences for more than 50 years. Located lakeside at 815 East Lake Drive in an outdoor amphitheater, The Muni is one of the largest all-volunteer community theatre organizations in the nation. For more information on The Muni, please visit www.TheMuni.org

Friday, August 12, 2016

Disney’s Little Mermaid makes its debut and closes out the 2016 Springfield Muni season


Disney’s Little Mermaid makes its debut and closes out the 2016 Springfield Muni season

Springfield, IL – August 15, 2016 – The Springfield Municipal Opera (The Muni) closes its 2016 season with Disney's Little Mermaid, sponsored by RSM and directed by Craig Williams II. The production will run August 19-21 and 24-28. Curtain time is 8:30 p.m.

This will be the first time Disney's Little Mermaid will be performed on The Muni stage. This musical debuted on Broadway in 2008, and is based on the animated 1989 Disney film and the story written by Hans Christian Andersen.

Little Mermaid takes you under the sea to tell you about Ariel (played by Sophie Lanser), a mermaid who desperately wants to be part of the world above the sea and falls in love with Prince Eric (played by Ryan Fisher). The book is by Doug Wright, music by Alan Menken and lyrics by Howard Ashman and Glenn Slater.

“The cast and staff are so excited to take children and children-at-heart on a magical journey under the sea with the fun-loving characters we have come to love," said Williams II. “We are striving to make every detail of our debut production as beautiful and engaging as possible. We are confident you will fall in with the Little Mermaid all over again.

Disney's Little Mermaid at The Muni will also feature free, special activities before the show every night from 7-8 p.m. The Under the Sea pre-party will include  themed crafts for young girls and boys.  On Family Night, Wednesday, August 24 from 7-8 p.m., Ariel's Shellabration will be held. This party will include a light up wand, crafts, mermaid face paint and a shell pass for a picture with Ariel after the show. The Shellabration will cost $5 per child, which will be collected the night of the show. On Family Night, ticket prices for children 12 and under are half price when accompanied by a paid adult – $6 for Reserved Seating and $3 for General Admission.

Throughout the run, two types of seating arrangements are available – Reserved Seating and General Admission (lawn seating.) The price of Reserved Seating is $14 for adults and $12 for seniors/military/students/children; General Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors/military/students, $6 for children (age 3-12), and free for kids age 2 and under.

Additionally, Thursday, August 25 is Senior Night. On Senior Night, ticket prices are reduced to $11 for Reserved Seating and $7 for General Admission. A Senior Shuttle Bus Service, sponsored by the King’s Daughters Organization, will also run on Senior Night. 

An interpreted performance for the hearing impaired is scheduled for Sunday, August 21.

Reserved Seating tickets can be purchased in advance online – www.TheMuni.org – or by calling or visiting the Sangamon Auditorium Box Office at 217-793-MUNI (6864.) Patrons can also purchase Reserved Seating and General Admission tickets on-site at The Muni’s Box Office, which opens 90 minutes prior to curtain time.

About The Muni

The Springfield Municipal Opera (The Muni) is a not-for-profit theatrical organization that has become a Springfield summer tradition, providing the best of Broadway to enthusiastic audiences for more than 50 years. Located lakeside at 815 East Lake Drive in an outdoor amphitheater, The Muni is one of the largest all-volunteer community theatre organizations in the nation. For more information on The Muni, please visit www.TheMuni.org

Monday, July 25, 2016

Nice Work If You Can Get It makes its debut at the Springfield Muni


Nice Work If You Can Get It makes its debut at the Springfield Muni

Springfield, IL – July 26, 2016 – The Springfield Municipal Opera (The Muni) continues its 2016 season with Nice Work If You Can Get It, sponsored by Illini Bank and directed by Doug Hahn and Gary Shull. The production will run July 29-August 1 and August 4-8. Curtain time is 8:30 p.m.

This will be the first time Nice Work If You Can Get It will be performed on The Muni stage. This musical debuted on Broadway in 2012, and features songs by George and Ira Gershwin. Nice Work is set in the 20s, and features great dance numbers and an unlikely love story. Fun-loving bachelor Jimmy Winter (Andrew Maynerich) meets rough female bootlegger Billie Bendix (Anna Bussing) the weekend of his wedding, and it turns out to be a riotous bachelor party.

“This show has just come off of Broadway, and will be The Muni at its best, with lots of good dancing, great Gershwin music and wonderful costumes,” said Hahn.  “There is just simply something delicious, pure, good and all-American in sitting back on a summer evening under the stars and smiling at the unforgettable songs left to us by the amazing George and Ira Gershwin.”

Two types of seating arrangements are available – Reserved Seating and General Admission (lawn seating.)
The price of Reserved Seating is $14 for adults and $12 for seniors/military/students/children; General Admission is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors/military/students, $6 for children (age 3-12), and free for kids age 2 and under.

Additionally, Wednesday, August 3  has been designated as Family Night and Thursday, August 4 as Senior Night.
On Family Night, ticket prices for children 12 and under are half price when accompanied by a paid adult – $6 for Reserved Seating and $3 for General Admission. On Senior Night, ticket prices are reduced to $11 for Reserved Seating and $7 for General Admission. A Senior Shuttle Bus Service, sponsored by the King’s Daughters Organization, will also run on Senior Night.  

An interpreted performance for the hearing impaired is scheduled for Saturday, July 30.

Reserved Seating tickets can be purchased in advance online – www.TheMuni.org – or by calling or visiting the Sangamon Auditorium Box Office at 217-793-MUNI (6864.) Patrons can also purchase Reserved Seating and General Admission tickets on-site at The Muni’s Box Office, which opens 90 minutes prior to curtain time.

About The Muni
The Springfield Municipal Opera (The Muni) is a not-for-profit theatrical organization that has become a Springfield summer tradition, providing the best of Broadway to enthusiastic audiences for more than 50 years. Located lakeside at 815 East Lake Drive in an outdoor amphitheater, The Muni is one of the largest all-volunteer community theatre organizations in the nation. For more information on The Muni, please visit www.TheMuni.org.



Getting To Know Nice Work If You Can Get It's Anna Bussing


Getting To Know Nice Work If You Can Get It's Anna Bussing

What is your favorite part about this role?  
My favorite part of playing Billie Bendix is working with Andrew Maynerich.


What has been the biggest challenge during rehearsals? 
The biggest challenge has been not to laugh while we run scenes because this show is so silly.

What's your favorite song and why?
"Will You Remember Me" is my favorite song from Nice Work If You Can Get It. It's such a simple, beautiful song, and is sung during one of the very rare serious moments of the show.

How did you get involved in Muni, and when?
My first show at Muni was in 1995. My mom asked if I wanted to audition for The Muni. I didn't know what it was at the time but I made it, and I've done it every year since. 


What is it about Muni that keeps you coming back?
The people at The Muni are family and Muni is my summer home. I can't not go back each summer. 

Getting To Know Nice Work If You Can Get It's Andrew Maynerich

Getting To Know Nice Work If You Can Get It's Andrew Maynerich 



What is your favorite part about this role?
My favorite part about this role would be the Comedic Timing of lines, movements, and scenes.  Not only just for myself, but the playing with other actors in the scenes.  It's been a riot!

What has been the biggest challenge during rehearsals?
The biggest challenge has been not to laugh during scenes.  By the time you get all these characters (and the people playing them!) in the same room, it's difficult to not crack a smile.

What has helped you to get to know your fellow cast members and gel with them?
Off stage time, and getting together after rehearsals.  A few of us have been able to get together after rehearsal to not only relax, but also joke about the show and give each other pointers.

What's your favorite song and why?
"S'Wonderful" is my favorite. Playing on stage with Anna, and finally getting to dance with her is a pleasure, and the song really adds an integral part to show.  

How did you get involved in Muni, and when?
I got involved in Muni in 2003 with BIG: The Musical. I auditioned as a kid, and had never auditioned before.  With the support of family, and the benefit of a dance background, I was excited to be cast as a "Big Kid!" 

What is it about Muni that keeps you coming back?

I love the family atmosphere and the friends I have made all these years.  Some of the people I have done shows with are some of my best friends today!  I also love the size of the venue, and the crowd it attracts.  Performing in front of HUGE audiences is just an experience you can't stay away from!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Getting to know Sweeney Todd's Meredith Vogel-Thomas



Getting to know Sweeney Todd's Meredith Vogel-Thomas

What is your favorite part about this role?
My favorite part about Mrs. Lovett is her tenacity.  She is a hard working woman.  A survivor.  She also adds a much needed element of levity to the show.


What has been the biggest challenge during rehearsals?
My greatest challenge during rehearsals has been learning such challenging music.  Sondheim's score is a terrifying and magnificent puzzle.  I have had to spend several hours both in and outside rehearsal learning all of the songs.

What has helped you to get to know your fellow cast members and gel with them?
I came in to this production knowing two or three people, at the most.  This show requires a great deal of trust between cast members.  Fortunately, our director Carly created a safe space to take risks and allow vulnerability.  These are fragile relationships that must be treated with care.  That having been said, we also try to find lots of opportunities to laugh backstage.  Without a lively sense of humor, the heavy content of Sweeney might drag us down.  I was also fortunate enough to carpool with our music director Addie several evenings.  I am so fortunate to have made a new friend in her.

What's your favorite song and why?
My favorite song in this show is "Not While I'm Around."  It is a beautiful ballad, so sweet and sincere.  The song also reveals the true nature of the relationship between Toby and Mrs. Lovett, which then shifts dramatically.  I used to think of the song as a tender lullaby.  Now it breaks my heart, in the best way possible.


How did you get involved in Muni, and when?
This is my third season at the Muni.  I had actually auditioned for nearly four years before I was ever cast in a role, but I am not easily deterred.  I came back every year because I wanted to be a part of at least one of the shows presented each season.

What is it about Muni that keeps you coming back?
I keep coming back to the Muni because I love the venue.  I love the quality of the shows.  I have also come to adore the people who volunteer so many hours and resources to bring the shows to life.  It is an crazy, talented, diverse family here.  I am lucky to be a part of it.



Friday, July 8, 2016

Getting to know Sweeney Todd's John O'Connor


Getting to know Sweeney Todd's John O'Connor

What is your favorite part about this role?

JC: Its complexity. I have played some of history's top traitors--Judas Iscariot, John Wilkes Booth--but none has seemed, at least from one perspective, so two-dimensional and loathsome as Sweeney Todd.  Yet, he's the protagonist, and the audience has to see his redeeming qualities. With lots of help from director Carly Shank and assistant director John Paris (for whom Sweeney is among his favorite characters on the stage), I've tried to make him complete, showing the (sometimes-contradictory) nuances in his character. 

What has been the biggest challenge during rehearsals?

JC: Without question, the music.  Sondheim's score is exacting and unforgiving.  With most musicals, a performer can come in and make a song his or her own, bring a personal style to it.  Not so with Sondheim. His work is a 3-D puzzle that fits one way, and it a piece is out of place, the melodic mastery is lost. 

What has helped you to get to know your fellow cast members and gel with them?

JC: There's nothing like theater to bring strangers together, along with bringing long-time acquaintances back together, for a common goal: Taking a two-hour show and transforming it from scribbles on a page to a living, breathing piece of art in six weeks. Everyone comes in the door ready for the challenge, knowing that one person cannot do it alone. But I have to say I could relate to Sara Baltusevich Goeckner, who starred in Muni's first show this season, "South Pacific," when she lamented not being able to spend much time with the cast.  It's great to be the star, but often, you're on stage when everyone else is off, and vice-versa. There's something to be said for being a member of the ensemble and all the jocularity that goes with it. 

What's your favorite song and why?

JC: "A Little Priest," for its morbid hilarity. It's catchy, clever, and the way Meredith Vogel-Thomas delivers this homage to meat pies made of priests and politicians and lawyers and artists has ensured it a special place among my Broadway favorites. 

How did you get involved in Muni, and when?

JC: In 1996, Don Bailey cast me in a featured role in "Little Me," starring Muni trustee Stephan Kaplan. I then appeared on the Muni stage in each subsequent summer until 2008. In 21 years of association with Muni, I've been on stage 17 times. 

What is it about Muni that keeps you coming back?

JC: Muni is a group of helpers.  I am repeatedly amazed at the number of newcomers each year, and each is welcomed and typically given the tools to succeed.  The spirit of helping is clearly evident in the Sweeney Todd cast and staff.  In the cast are musical theater veterans, expert straight actors, others who are vocal performers without a lot of acting experience. I have seen the cast members help one another based on the strengths of each. This spirit is an undercurrent throughout the Muni community.