Civic Theatre Returns to the Arts United Center for 2021-22 Season
Although the challenges faced by the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre during the pandemic were not unique, their season – unlike many other organizations – typically kicks off in the summer rather than the fall. That provided them with the first major decision: Should they continue with their plans to stage an all-female production of 1776 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment or should they pack it in and go home? Limited seating and distancing requirements at their usual home at the Arts United Center made it financially challenging to stage the production there. But leave it to theatre people to be creative.
“As the information was coming in about cancelations and social distancing, we were having conversations with people to move to an outdoor venue,” said Phillip Colglazier, executive director of the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre. “The Foellinger outdoor theatre had also had to cancel all of their concerts for the year, and their capacity made it possible for us to move forward. The Parks Department was so gracious in helping us make all of those shows possible at that time.”
Of course the move required the hauling of sets, costumes, and props to a different location from where they’d already have been if staged at the Arts United Center, but it also allowed for tremendous distancing and an outdoor area where people felt more comfortable and safe during the various spikes of COVID. Unfortunately some of those spikes did cause the cancelation of a few of the Civic’s productions last year, notably Sunset Boulevard and, from the previous May during lockdown, Noises Off.
“The last show of our current season was the first one we had to cancel because of the pandemic,” Colglazier said. “[Purdue Fort Wayne’s] John O’Connell was originally scheduled to direct and is willing to come back for that. The cast was about to start rehearsals when we had to cancel so we’re using the same cast that we had ready over a year ago.”
The season kicks off in July with the bawdy A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum which runs July 24-August 8 followed by the one-man show Every Brilliant Thing which will feature Todd Frymier, no stranger to Fort Wayne theatre fans. The holiday offering will be The Christmas Schooner, a musical which will run November 6-21. The popular, family-friendly Suessical the Musical will run February 12-27, and Forbidden Broadway, directed by Colglazier and choreographed by Leslie Beauchamp runs March 25-April 3.
“I’ve always wanted to do Forbidden Broadway,” Colglazier said. “It’s a nice opportunity to make fun of our industry and the celebrities. When I saw it the first time, I could not stop laughing.”
Noises Off rounds out the season May 13-22, a full two years after it was originally scheduled to run. But that’s not the full extent of what the Civic has in store. Fans of their fun sendups in Celebrities Act Up will be happy to know that the popular fundraiser for the Civic returns Friday, October 8 to the Arts United Center, home once again to the Fort Wayne Civic Theatre. For more information and tickets, visit fwcivic.org.
Check back next week to hear from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum director Leslie Beauchamp!