Summer of sequels: Pioneer Playhouse announces 2018 lineup
Published 7:00 am Friday, December 1, 2017
Pioneer Playhouse of Danville, Kentucky’s oldest outdoor theater, has just announced its 2018 summer season, and the five-play lineup includes three sequels to smash hits from previous years, two of them “Kentucky Voices” originals by well-known local writers.
“Last summer was such a success,” says Managing Director Heather Henson. “Attendance was up by 23 percent, and so we thought we’d use 2017 as a model. Maybe it’s a little ‘Hollywood,’ but we felt that offering a few sequels, or continuations, of popular shows, made a lot of sense.”
The two Kentucky Voices originals will be “The Return of Tinker Doyle” by award-winning Danville playwright, Elizabeth Orndorff and “Granted,” adapted from the final novel in the best-selling “May Hollow Trilogy” by Stanford’s Angela Correll.
“All of the shows we’ve picked are either heartwarming plays celebrating Kentucky, or comedies full of fun characters and silly situations,” says Henson. “Nothing too serious because what we kept hearing over and over again from our patrons in 2017 was that all they wanted was to laugh, especially with everything going on in the world today. We listened to that, and this season will be lots of laughs, lots of fun.”
• On June 8, “The Return of Tinker Doyle”will kick off the historic theatre’s 69th season under the stars. The brand new comedy is a continuation of Orndorff’s “The Search for Tinker Doyle,” which was written in celebration of Danville’s bond with its Sister City of Carrickfergus in Northern Ireland, and performed on the Playhouse stage five years ago.
Previously, in “The Search for Tinker Doyle,”a fictional Danville mayor traveled to Northern Ireland to woo a Sister City while his wife secretly looked up a long lost Irish love. The old flame turned out to be a priest, and now in “The Return of Tinker Doyle,” it’s Father Doyle who’s coming to Danville on a cultural exchange that has the whole town buzzing. The play will run through June 23.
“We’re thrilled to announce that Irish actor/singer Kieran Cunningham will be returning to Danville to play ‘Father Doyle,’” says Henson. “And of course Playhouse favorites, Eben French Mastin and Patricia Hammond, will reprise their roles as the mayor and his wife. We’re also really excited to once more be working with the Sister Cities Commission of Danville, both on this play and on creating other Irish-themed events around town during the run of ‘The Return of Tinker Doyle.’”
• “Drinking Habits 2: Caught in the Act” by Tom Smith will take the second summer slot June 26-July 7. “Drinking Habits 2″is the side-splitting sequel to last year’s runawayhit, in which the Sisters of Perpetual Sewing tried unsuccessfully to hide the fact that they were making wine to keep their convent’s doors open.This time around, it’s the orphanage that’s in peril, and the nuns decide to mount an epic play — and make a little wine on the side — in order to raise money fast.
• “Granted,” running July 10-July 21, is the highly anticipated final chapter of a story that began four years ago with “Grounded.” Adapted by Holly Hepp-Galvan and Robby Henson from Correll’s novel, “Granted” finds the main character, Annie, finally embracing her country roots and racing toward a happy ending with Jake, while her grandmother, Beulah, engages in a lively potluck war with her feisty neighbor, Betty.
“Angela’s stories resonate with such a deep love of people and place,” says Henson. “Watching the plays created from her novels is a bit like sitting down to a home-cooked meal. It’s warm, it’s yummy and it’s wonderfully familiar.”
• “Unnecessary Farce” by Paul Slade Smith, running July 24-Aug. 4, is a high-energy comedy that has been performed to much acclaim in repertory theaters across the country. The door-slamming farce follows the shenanigans of a couple of overeager undercover cops as they try to catch an embezzling mayor in a sting operation that goes hilariously out of control.
• “In Living on Love”by Joe DiPietro, the final play of the regular season, ademanding diva discovers that her larger-than-life maestro husband has become enamored with the lovely young lady hired to ghostwrite his largely fictional autobiography, and so she hires a handsome young scribe of her own. This light-hearted romantic comedy with a twist runs fromAug. 7-18.
• The special stand-up comedy weekend, as per tradition, will be presented to close out the summer. This year, Pioneer Playhouse presents Lee Cruse’s Kentucky All-Stars Comedy Tour on Aug. 24 and 25.
“Lee is such a huge celebrity all over Kentucky with his morning and noon shows on WLEX 18,” says Henson. “We’re happy to finally bring him to our stage along with some up-and-coming comedians. Lee will be holding stand-up comedy contests all year, and the winners will perform at the Playhouse. Stay tuned for more about this new, exciting event.”
And just in time for the holidays, Pioneer Playhouse is offering a discount on 2018 season passes from now until Jan. 1. Patron Passes are good for admission to six shows throughout the summer season; Super Passes are good for admission to 10 shows. From now until January 1, 2018 a $10 discount is available on Patron Passes; $15 discount on Super Passes.
Passes may be purchased in three ways: by stopping by the Pioneer Playhouse box office located at 840 Stanford Road in Danville, 9-11 p.m. Monday-Friday; by calling (859) 236-2747 during box office hours: or by going online: www.pioneerplayhouse.com.