By David Markham
Strong female characters on stage and female directors for all five of the year’s summer outdoor shows are planned for the Theatre in the Park’s 2024 show lineup. But before the 2024 season arrives, there will be 13 indoor performances of “Seussical the Musical” between Dec. 8 and 23.
TIP’s recently-announced 2024 schedule involves eight shows, including three indoor productions at The Black Box Theatre, and five summer outdoor shows on TIP’s outdoor stage in Shawnee Mission Park.
“We are excited to have such a catalog of new and classic shows for 2024,” said Associate Artistic Director Guy Gardner. “We’ve got shows like “Anastasia: The Musical” which just recently ended its national tour and has not been available for theatres to perform, as well as “Hello, Dolly” which is celebrating its 60th year since its debut on Broadway!”
Up first in 2024 is “SHOUT! The Mod Musical,” which will be indoors at The Black Box Theatre in the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center on March 8 through 24, and is Rated PG-13. Outdoor summer productions to presented on TIP’s stage in Shawnee Mission Park will include: “Bye Bye Birdie” which is Rated PG and on stage May 31 through June 8; “Anastasia: The Musical,” which is Rated PG, and on stage June 14 through 22; “Anything Goes,” Rated PG, June 28 through July 6; “Hello, Dolly,” Rated PG, July 12 through 20; and “Sister Act,” Rated PG13, July 26 through Aug. 3. The fall indoor production at The Black Box Theatre will be “Disenchanted – A New Musical Comedy,” which is Rated PG-17, and will take place Oct. 4 through 20. TIP’s December production at JCAHC will again be “Seussical the Musical,” which is Rated G, and will take place on Dec. 6 through 23.
Half the shows panned for 2024 have been presented previously by the Theatre in the Park. “Bye, Bye Birdie” has been presented three times before, most recently in 2006. “Anything Goes” was presented twice previously, most recently in 2003. “Hello, Dolly” has previously been performed six times on the TIP stage, most recently in 2007. “Seussical the Musical” has become a TIP holiday tradition and will performed at The Black Box Theatre for the third consecutive year in December 2024.
“Every year we try to curate a season that has a wide array of appeal for our patrons and performers,” Gardner said. “When we had settled on a few for 2024, we realized a lot of them had strong female characters, and decided to continue that. We are humbled to have hired some amazing directors for the 2024 season! For the first time in our 55-year history, all of our outdoor productions will have women at the helm.”
Continuing the female centric theme for 2024, Theatre in the Park officials recently announced five women have been selected for participation in TIP’s Emerging Theatre Professional Initiative for 2024. This program is designed to further the knowledge and training of theatrical leaders in an engaging format. Emerging Leaders will shadow the indoor spring production of the 2024 TIP season and then move to helming the creation of a summer outdoor Theatre in the Park production. The program will also include workshops, brainstorming sessions, masterclasses, and other opportunities in the areas of business, leadership, ethics, rehearsal management, and more. ETPI participants will be working on “SHOUT! The Mod Musical,” and “Sister Act” for the 2024 season.
Auditions for TIP’s outdoor summer productions are scheduled for April 13 and 14, while the dates for indoor show auditions will be set in the new year. Gardner anticipates around 200 people will be cast for TIP’s 2024 productions.
“Performers in the area are already excited about the opportunity to be considered for so many different roles,” Gardner said. “The biggest casting challenge is going to be deciding between all of the amazing talent we have in town!”
The Black Box Theatre provides the Theatre in the Park with a year-round venue to supplement its outdoor summer productions during June, July, and August in Shawnee Mission Park. JCAHC is located at 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park.
To learn more or to buy tickets for December 2023 performances of “Seussical the Musical,” visit theatreinthepark.org/2023-seussical. For more information about TIP’s 2024 season, go to theatreinthepark.org/2024-season-full-summary.