ABINGDON, Va. — A 2017-18 season that builds on Barter Theatre’s award-winning tradition of bringing bold interpretations of audience favorites as well as new works to the stage was announced Friday.
A preview event, that included songs and scenes from upcoming productions, was held at the theater in Abingdon. A total of 18 shows are on tap, according to Richard Rose, producing artistic director.
“Our 2018 season has a heartfelt sense of unity,” Rose said. “We hold our theater as a place that we can all gather, where everyone is welcome, equal and where everyone has a voice to share together and explore the core of our humanity.”
Gilliam Stage, Barter’s main stage, will present hits “Singin’ in the Rain,” known as the greatest movie musical of all time, and “Sister Act,” a musical filled with powerful gospel music, dancing and a moving storyline.
The theater’s 2018 season will open in mid-February with “Bright Star,” a musical that tells a sweeping tale of love and redemption set against the backdrop of the American South in the 1920s and '40s.
Barter is proud to debut the first production of the show in the U.S. since its run on Broadway in 2016, according to Rose.
“Sister Act” and “Steel Magnolias” will come to Gilliam Stage next summer. “Sister Act” tells the story of a woman hiding in a convent who helps her fellow sisters find their voices as she works to rediscover her own. It is based on the film starring Whoopi Goldberg.
After several years of working to obtain the rights to the musical, Rose said he’s most proud to debut “Ain’t Misbehavin’” in mid-August, which shares music and memories from “The Fats Waller Musical Show.”
“We’re excited for Ain’t Misbehavin’,” Rose said. “We have waited for a long time to perform this and to finally have everything in place — I think the audience will love the show.”
The last show of the 2018 season on the Gilliam Stage will be “Elf The Musical,” which will be performed from mid-November to late December and tells the heartwarming story of Buddy, an orphan who accidentally crawls into Santa’s bag and is taken back to the North Pole.
“Elf The Musical is something different and new for the Christmas season,” Rose said. “We have done many traditional holiday productions before, and we’re excited to bring something fresh for the holiday season as so many families attend Barter during the holidays.”
On Barter’s Stage II, the season kicks off with the comedy, “A Facility for Living,” which follows the lives of senior citizens living in a penitentiary converted into a senior center. The show runs from February to March and is “the ‘Golden Girls’ meets ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ in the disturbing story of what life may be like in the not-so-distance future,” Rose said.
Other shows on Barter’s Stage II will be “Shakespeare’s Richard III,” which will run from March to April; “Maytag Virgin,” which runs from May to June; “The Lemonade Stand,” from July to August; “Sally McCoy,” from September to mid-October, which tells the story of one woman trying to save her family in the legendary Hatfield and McCoy battle; and “Wooden Snowflake,” in November and December, written by Catherine Bush, one of Barter’s most well-known authors.
Joyce Samuel, of Bristol, Tennessee, attended the preview event and said she’s excited about attending the shows at the Barter, which is the official state theater.
“There are a lot of good ones this year,” Samuel said following the announcement. “I marked all the ones that I thought were really great. The plays are always so good, and I don’t think anyone has ever seen a bad one.”
Season packages for the 2018 season are now available at the box office at 127 W. Main St. in Abingdon. More information is available online by visiting www.bartertheatre.com or by contacting the box office at 276-628-3991.