TheatreZone and Opera Naples debut joint production reflects how Broadway musical and opera move closer together with teamwork.
Naples, FL: (Setember 1, 2011) … Artful teamwork. Equity regional theatre company TheatreZone and Opera Naples are teaming up to create synergy in a production that uses each organization’s strengths: musicals and opera. TheatreZone founder Mark Danni believes the Broadway musical and opera have been moving closer together over the last 40 years with the works of Stephen Sondheim, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Claude-Michel Schonberg. He is also unwavering when it comes to bringing Southwest Florida audiences the opportunity to experience the lost treasures of Broadway. So, when the Cotton Blossom paddles into the Naples High School auditorium for the classic operetta Show Boat, Nov. 5 and 6, it will carry a cast from both companies.
TheatreZone artistic director Danni will make his directing and conducting debut with Opera Naples, directing a 40+ ensemble/chorus and conducting the 17-piece live orchestra. “Show Boat is not just another American musical; it is the first great contemporary modern musical,” says Danni. He believes Show Boat was the first to merge the light-hearted naïve traditional Broadway musical with serious themes. “While Show Boat is rooted in American musical comedy with its popular 32-bar songs, much of the beautiful Jerome Kern music comes straight from the nineteenth century operetta and grand opera and is filled with memorable hits such as “Ol’ Man River” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man,” explains Danni. “Oscar Hammerstein II showed his genius by tackling such serious issues of segregation and inter-racial marriage. This type of subject matter had not been seen on stage before 1927,” he adds. Hammerstein continued to introduce these serious issues in the musical theatre when he joined forces with Richard Rodgers 15 years later.
Based on Edna Ferber’s novel of the same name, Show Boat chronicles life on one of the Mississippi River’s floating entertainment palaces and the life and loves of the characters there. History behind the teamwork Opera Naples founder, soprano Steffanie Pearce and TheatreZone founder Mark Danni both moved to Naples from New York at the same time about 10 years ago and founded professional performing arts organizations. The pair had been talking for several seasons about producing something together. Earlier this year, Danni’s wife Karen Molnar (New York actress, singer and choreographer and co-founder of TheatreZone) suggested Show Boat, and both artistic directors knew they had just the right piece.
“Show Boat was controversial and groundbreaking for its use of African-American actors, emotional lyrics and tackling various racial themes some 40 years before the Civil Rights era,” he says. “Show Boat never stops moving,” he notes. “For over seven decades this seminal musical has continued to evolve on a journey that has reflected the ongoing development of the lyric theater, confirming its status as the pivotal work bridging operetta and contemporary musical theater.” Danni will direct, choreography by Karen Molnar, Music Direction by Robin Frank and Mark Danni, and orchestra conducted by Mark Danni. Show Boat will play November 5 at 2 pm and 8 pm, and November 6 at 3 pm. Tickets are on sale now. Call Opera Naples at (239) 963-9050 or www.operanaples.org.
Operating under the guidelines of the Actors’ Equity Association and small professional theatres contracts, TheatreZone is in residence and performs in the intimate 250-seat G&L Theatre housed on the magnificent campus of The Community School of Naples, one block north of Pine Ridge Road. Upcoming Season Seven productions include The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Dec. 1-11, 2011); Company (Jan. 5-15, 2012); Little Women (March 8-18, 2012) and The Boyfriend (May 3-13, 2012). Season Seven subscriber series (four shows) costs $182; a semi season series (3 shows) costs $144 while individual seats costs $43 – $48 plus a $2 per ticket fee. Group rates (more than 10) are available. To purchase tickets, call TheaterZone at 1-888-ZONE-FLA, 1-888-966-3352; review seating chart and purchase online at www.theaterzone-florida.com.
Richard Cameron of Theatre Chat thanks TheatreZone and Opera Naples. Cameron’s articles have featured conversations with Tony Award winning Producer Stewart Lane, Emmy Award winning Casting Director Jeff Greenberg, multiple Broadway and TV stars and creative teams bringing arts lovers together around the world for the largest social media arts movement. Tag You’re it! Share with your communities.