WEST VALLEY CITY — Sally Dietlein is “pretty giddy” about the shows that will be produced during Hale Centre Theatre's 2014 season.
“After meeting with the companies that license the rights to shows in New York City, we were so pleased that we left with more than what we thought that we could have possibly gotten. It’s a bucket full of really good shows this season,” said HCT’s executive producer.
“You wouldn’t believe how much Utah theater is respected in the theater community in New York City,” Dietlein added. “So many people tell us how impressed they are that Utah fosters such strong talent. They see tremendous actors with resumes showing Utah as their home base, and this has helped us negotiate rights to the very best shows.”
At the top of the list is the Broadway musical “Catch Me If You Can,” which will be the 12th regional or national premiere on HCT’s stage. Based on the Steven Spielberg movie that starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Tom Hanks, the musical adaptation has a score by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, who also penned “Hairspray.” The Broadway production opened in April 2011 and received four Tony nominations, with Norbert Leo Butz winning Best Actor in a Musical, and the show solidified Aaron Tveit, who had a featured role in the film version of “Les Miserables,” as a Broadway headliner.
“When we saw it in New York we thought it was absolutely delightful; it really deserved a longer life on Broadway” Dietlein said. “We are very pleased that we’re getting the musical very soon after the national tour ends.”
While the performance rights are not yet widely available, HCT was able to negotiate the amateur license to “Mary Poppins,” based on the Academy Award-winning Disney film with music by the brother songwriting team of Robert M. and Richard B. Sherman. With a book by Julian Fellowes of “Downton Abbey” fame, the November 2006 Broadway show has toured nationally to great success, including its September 2011 stop in Salt Lake City. A professional staging of “Mary Poppins” will open the Tuacahn Amphitheatre season on May 30.
“There’s so much magic in ‘Mary Poppins,’” Dietlein said. “Kacey Udey, our fantastic set designer, said he’s glad that he has a full year before the show opens to make all the special effects truly spectacular.”
The musical “She Loves Me” will also be in the 2014 HCT season. Based on the 1940 Jimmy Stewart drama “The Shop Around the Corner,” which was also adapted for the Tom Hanks-Meg Ryan 1998 feature film “You’ve Got Mail,” the Sheldon Harnick-Jerry Bock musical was originally produced on Broadway in 1963 with direction by the legendary Hal Prince.
“This is not a whiz-bang musical, but it is a charming piece. The story is wonderful, and when music was added, ‘She Loves Me’ became even more delicious,” Dietlein said.
The title of the fourth musical in the HCT season cannot be released until next month when the theater is contractually able to make the announcement. However, local theater insiders have suggested that it is a big, popular show and will be a second amateur rights regional premiere.
“Completing the season will be two dramas, including that gangbuster good comedy ‘The Foreigner,’ which was right at the top of a survey of shows audiences wanted to see again. And throwing a bone out to nostalgia, we will be staging ‘Arsenic and Old Lace.’”
“A Christmas Carol” will receive its 30-year anniversary staging. “It’s always something that our director John Sweeney thinks about all year long, how to make it special and just a little bit different each year while not smudging the line of being faithful to the original Charles Dickens story,” Dietlein explained. “We’ll have to see what John has up his sleeve. He keeps mining gold with each new production.”
HCT’s production dates are “The Foreigner” Dec. 31, 2013-Feb. 1, 2014, a musical to be announced Feb. 14-April 19, “Arsenic and Old Lace” April 25-May 31, “Mary Poppins” June 13-Aug. 9, “She Loves Me” Aug. 19-Sept. 27, “Catch Me If You Can” Oct. 8-Nov. 29 and “A Christmas Carol” Dec. 6–23.