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Posted on Fri. Apr. 04, 2014 - 12:01 am EDT

Plan for year of the arts

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Spring may have taken its sweet time arriving, but the shows must go on.

A few local arts organizations have announced their 2014-15 seasons, which include performances that take audiences to the cabaret, Andy’s bedroom and backwoods Louisiana.

Fort Wayne Civic Theatre

Opening July 26 with the musical “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” Fort Wayne Civic Theatre presents a lineup of Broadway classics both new and old. The season includes a premiere performance of “Shrek,” along with “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee” and theater staple “Cabaret.”

Executive Director Phillip Colglazier says that “Shrek,” one of the bigger productions next season, will be pleasing for all ages as audiences meet an unseemly ogre who must rescue a princess in order to save his swamp.

“Anytime you have a show that was a movie first, it’s generally big in regards to the numbers of characters, costumes and the number of scene changes, which is challenging,” Colglazier says. “It demands a number of costumes that turn people into animals and creatures to create that fairy tale world.”

Colglazier says that the big production is balanced by “Cabaret,” which requires a smaller cast and production. The story is based on the colorful characters aspiring writer Cliff Bradshaw meets at the Kit Kat Klub in 1930s Germany as the Nazis rise to power.

“With every season, we try find that mix that has something for everyone. There’s a family-friendly musical, there’s drama and comedy as well, but we also want to challenge audiences artistically. We look at all those elements.”

Theater schedule:

•“Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” July 26 to Aug. 10

•“Over the River and Through the Woods,” Sept. 12 to 28

•“Shrek: The Musical,” Nov. 8 to 23

•“Cabaret,” Feb. 14 to March 1

•“33 Variations,” March 20 to April 4, 2015

•“The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” May 1 to 10, 2015

•“6th Annual Northeast Indiana Playwright Festival,” May 29 to June 14, 2015

Fort Wayne Philharmonic

The 71st season of the Fort Wayne Philharmonic marks two milestones for the orchestra: the intimate Freimann series, which celebrates its 30th anniversary, and Andrew Constantine’s fifth season as the Phil’s music director.

Constantine has planned an eclectic mix of music for the Masterworks series, while continuing with the Composers Revealed series. The concert will feature a dramatic depiction of Russian composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, the man behind the “Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake.”

President and CEO J.L. Nave III says the organization wants to make sure it’s reaching the largest audience possible while maintaining the same level of service to its traditional audience and musicians.

“It’s always a balancing act because the orchestra needs to be challenged artistically. That’s really important for their personal satisfaction and growth, and that’s where Andrew does a particularly good job. He picks pieces that challenge the orchestra and are accessible to the audience. That’s a difficult thing to balance,” Nave says.

The orchestra’s Pops series offers evenings of swing music, “Wicked” Broadway performances and the music of Pixar film favorites “Toy Story” and “The Incredibles,” which will be accompanied with visual images throughout.

New this year is that all evening performances will begin at 7:30 p.m.

“I’m excited about next season. Andrew has put together some great programs, and I’m really excited for ‘Pixar in Concert,’ ” Nave says. “There’s a really a lot for everybody.”

Masterworks and Pops schedule:

•“Mahler’s First Symphony,” Sept. 27

•“The Best of Swing with Capitol Quartet,” Oct. 11

•“A Tale of Two Concertmasters,” Oct. 18

•“Brahms’ Second Symphony,” Nov. 1

•“Shostakovich’s First Symphony,” Nov. 22

•“Holiday Pops,” Dec. 12 to 20

•“All Mozart,” Jan. 10

•“Wicked Divas,” Jan. 24

•“Tchaikovsky: Revealed,” Feb. 7

•“Beethoven’s Third Symphony,” Feb. 28

•“Great Movies, Grand Piano with pianist Rich Ridenour,” March 7

•“Verdi’s Requiem,” March 21

•“Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto,” April 18, 2015

• “Pixar in Concert,” May 2, 2015

•“Stravinsky’s Firebird,” May 9, 2015

First Presbyterian Theater

First Presbyterian’s new season focuses on the outsider with a mix of comedies and dramas that help audiences observe the human condition at its best and at its worst.

Opening Sept. 4, “The Foreigner” is a comedic tale of a shy Englishman who isolates himself while vacationing in a rural fishing lodge in Georgia by pretending not to speak English.

The experience actually draws out the extrovert within.

The season also takes on the controversial “Merchant of Venice.” Shakespeare’s play of vengeance, mercy, comedy and tragedy puts Christianity and Judaism up for discussion as the story determines whether Jewish money-lender Shylock is a villain or a victim of an anti-Semitic culture.

Executive Director Thom Hofrichter says that after he finishes the current season, his thoughts will move on to next season’s “A Lesson Before Dying.”

Written by Romulus Linney, the story focuses on a Louisiana black man unfairly convicted of killing a white store owner and is sentenced to die. His attorney tries to negotiate a lesser sentence by saying his client only has a sense of a hog, so the man decides to behave like one. It takes a local schoolteacher to help him regain his dignity as a man.

“We’ve got some great comedies, and ‘A Lesson Before Dying’ is going to be an amazing piece of theater,” he says. “What I hope is that people go to the theater, give us a chance and see it. I hope they give this powerful play a shot.”

Theater schedule:

•“The Foreigner,” Sept. 4 to 20

•“A Lesson Before Dying,” Oct. 23 to Nov. 8

•“Christmas Potpourri: Songs & Stories for the Season,” Dec. 4 to 21

•“The Savannah Disputation,” Jan. 8 to 24

•“Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice,” Feb. 26 to March 14

•“Nunsense,” May 1 to 18, 2015

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