Civic Theatre’s 2020-21 season centers on overcoming challenges


Civic Theatre’s 2020-21 season will bring something old, something new and something unused.

“Bringing in the titles we were not able to produce from last season and adding ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ and ‘The Color Purple’ gives us a season that really speaks to overcoming challenges,” Civic Theatre Executive Artistic Director Michael J. Lasley said. “Even in the darkness, there is light and eventually redemption, even when circumstances are dire. We hope it’s prophetic for our own story as well.”

The recently announced season includes two shows, “Matilda the Musical” and “A Few Good Men,” from the 2019-20 season that were postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic. “A Few Good Men” was set to open March 13, but three hours before the curtain was supposed to open at The Tarkington, it was announced Carmel’s Center for the Performing Arts would close because of the state’s gathering limitations. “Matilda” was supposed to open April 24. Lasley said he hopes most of the cast for both shows can return.

“I think it’s inevitable that a few people won’t be able to return,” he said. “But for the most part, we believe we’ll get the majority to return. Peoples’ lives change and conflicts arise, but we look forward to making roles in ‘A Few Good Men’ and ‘Matilda’ available to everyone that missed the opportunity to perform last season.

“Some of our young performers in ‘Matilda the Musical’ are going to grow, that is certain. But we’ve assured them that there is a place for them in the show if their schedules allow.”

“Matilda the Musical’” will open the season Oct. 2 and through Oct. 17. “Elf the Musical’ will return for the second consecutive season from Dec. 4-26 — for good reason.

“‘Elf’ outperformed our next-best holiday production, ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat,’ (2012) by nearly 30 percent in total sales,” Lasley said. “And it had an average capacity of 98 percent of seats sold. There is no doubt that its popularity is unprecedented, and that is a big driver for the return of the show.

“We also think it’s a perfect fit with the holiday atmosphere at the theatre and surrounding areas.”

The 2021 portion of the schedule follows with “The Diary of Anne Frank,” Feb. 5-20; “A Few Good Men,” March 12-28; and

“The Color Purple,” April 30 to May 15.

“This is our first production of ‘The Color Purple,’” Lasley said, “We are excited to make this performance opportunity to our African American performers and to make this amazing and uplifting story available to our audiences.”

The Jr. Civic Musical will be “Frozen Jr.” in June 2021, and the Young Artists Program’s performance will be “Saturday Night Fever” in July 2021. Both shows were scheduled for this summer before being postponed.

“It is our hope that we can present the entirety of our announced season to our loyal patrons as well as new audiences,” Lasley said. “However, we will continue to monitor the ever-changing landscape caused by the global pandemic. We will pursue and adjust our plans for the season while always being guided by the health and safety of our employees, volunteers and patrons.”

Lasley said he hopes that social distancing will be reduced by October but that Civic Theatre is working on contingency plans in the event it is still in place.

“So much changes so fast during this difficult time that we’re trying to stay flexible and creative,” he said.