The Playhouse on Rodney Square will reopen in November and feature two beloved musicals, Riverdance’s 25th anniversary show and — hot stuff — a musical featured Donna Summer’s disco tunes.
The 108-year-old Playhouse, located in the Hotel Du Pont and operated by the Grand Opera House, will start its 2021-22 series on Nov. 18 with “Waitress.” The movie-turned-musical was brought to life by an all-female creative team and includes music and lyrics by singer Sara Bareilles.
The show revolves around Jenna, a waitress and expert pie-maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and rocky marriage. Pouring her heart into her pies, she crafts desserts that mirror her topsy-turvy life such as “The Key (Lime) to Happiness Pie” and “Betrayed By My Eggs Pie.” When a baking contest in a nearby county offers Jenna a chance at a fresh start, she must find the courage to seize it. The show will run Nov. 18-21.
The musical is one that the Playhouse has wanted to present and hoped to have last year, “but this season was the first opportunity we had,” said spokesman Andy Truscott.
“Summer: The Donna Summer Musical” will run Dec. 4-5 and feature the disco hits of a woman who rose from gospel choir to dance-floor diva. The store focuses on how Summer fought to break through barriers to become the icon of the era and inspire future music divas. The show will include 20 of her hits, including “Love to Love You Baby,” “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff.”
In April 2020, “Riverdance’s 25th Anniversary Show” brings Irish dancing back to the stage at the Du Pont Hotel. From April 22-24, its thrilling depiction of the energy and passion in Irish and international dance will include a recorded soundtrack, and reimagined show with innovative and spectacular lighting, projection, stage and costume designs.’
Winding up the season is “Fiddler on the Roof,” based on the recently acclaimed Broadway show. It will run June 9-12. While it’s based on original staging form the Jerome Robbins version, the production drew fans for its fresh feel. Music includes “Tradition,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were A Rich Man,’ “Matchmaker, Matchmaker,” and “To Life (L’Chaim!),” while illuminated the relationships between husbands and wives, and fathers and daughters.
Shows could be added , Truscott said.
“As tours coalesce and Broadway reopens, it is always possible that we could add future productions to our season,” Truscott said.
Subscriptions and single tickets go on sale to the general public on Monday, Sept. 13 at 10 a.m. Subscription packages begin at $93, while single tickets start as low as $35 per ticket for select seats. Tickets can be purchased by phone at 302-652-5577 or online at www.TheGrandWilmington.org.
The announcement did not say how the Playhouse plans to handle COVID-19 restrictions. Truscott said the theater plans to address that next week.
Fun facts about the theater and the Grand:
- The theater is known for having been built by 100 men in 150 working days.
- At one point it held the distinction as having one of the largest singular steel beams ever made to top off the proscenium arch.
- Pre-COVID, the Playhouse was the country’s longest continuously operating Broadway touring house.
- Celebrities who have trod its boards include Julie Andrews, Bette Davis, Fred Astaire, Carol Channing, Christopher Plummer, Chubby Checker, Maurice Hines, Abby Wambach, and Sutton Foster have all graced its stage.
- Other famous dignitaries that have spoken from the stage include Margaret Thatcher, President George W. Bush and President Joseph Biden.
- As the Grand is managing its three stages coming back to life, it will also be celebrating its 150th anniversary in December.
Betsy Price is a Wilmington freelance writer who has 40 years of experience.
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