MILL HALL - 'Tis the season to announce a season - almost.
Millbrook Playhouse, like other non-professional summer stock theaters, starts to line up the following year's attractions as soon as the curtain falls on the season's last performance. The advantages of announcing the following summer's attractions early include whetting the appetite of regular theater-goers and urging patrons to stuff a season or flex ticket into a holiday stocking.
But despite Millbrook's highly successful 50th anniversary season, the board of directors started looking for a new artistic director.
David Leidholdt began his position as artistic director of Lock Haven’s Millbrook Playhouse in October.
David Leidholdt, of New York City, eagerly applied for the position. Leidholdt was no stranger to the old barn theater, having served as a freelance director for "Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Shine Up" in 2004 and "Smoke On the Mountain" in 2007 when Stephen Sunderlin was Millbrook's artistic director.
Hired in October, Leidholdt immediately helped in mounting the holiday fundraiser "A Tuna Christmas" at the Lock Haven Elk's Club in November.
So after getting a late start, Leidholdt is finalizing the licensing and royalty for a two of the four shows which comprise Millbrook's cabaret lineup, with the four Main Stage attractions already locked on.
ON THE MAIN STAGE
"The Wizard of Oz" - Millbrook is "off to see the Wizard" as the 2014 season opener. Popular family fare and presented in 2006 with local Erin Long playing Dorothy, the "Over the Rainbow" musical allows lots of community actors, including several munchkins, to be cast.
"Happy Days" - Leidholdt says that he grew up with the TV show, and hopes that "Happy Days Are Here Again" in selecting this "new musical." Richie, Potsie, Ralph March and "The Fonz" try to save Arnold's drive-in in a show which may duplicate some of the teenage angst of last season's "Grease."
"The Little Shop of Horrors" - One of the longest-running off-Broadway shows of all time, this affectionate spoof of 1950s sci-fi movies is a solid choice mixing comedy, music and a plant's craving for blood.
"Bixoli Blues" - The only non-musical on the Main Stage is the third in Neil Simon's autobiographical trilogy. With its Army setting, the show should be a logical tie-in with Clinton County's 175th commemoration.
IN THE CABARET
In addition to being a producer, director and artistic director around New York City for the last ten years, Leidholdt also has worked as a teaching artist. He hopes that Millbrook's working relationship with Lock Haven University will expand. With a strong interest in young people, Leidholdt has a strong focus on developing and presenting new plays.
The 100-seat cabaret with patrons invited to bring their refreshments might be a perfect venue for such an undertaking. But knowing every ticket sale is a necessity, using the cabaret to showcase new plays will have to wait.
"We'll keep what works," Leidholdt said.
With the licensing to be completed within the next few weeks for the middle two shows, Millbrook announces the first and fourth attractions in the cabaret:
"Miss Abigail's Guide to Dating, Mating, and Marriage" - With a two-member cast, the lead-off production is a funny and insightful examination of the dating game and the consequences of success, namely a "for better or for worse" marriage.
"Love, Loss, and What I Wore" - Perhaps the most interesting choice of play selected is Nora and Delia Epson's long-running off-Broadway hit. Consisting of a series of monologues, these statements serve as a time capsule of the twists and turns in womens' lives based upon what they wear.
There will be auditions for professional actors in New York City and for community actors likely in mid-March with opening night set for June 12. But first up is another fundraising show, "The Complete Works of Shakespeare Abridged," slated for February at the Lock Haven Elks Cub.
Season and flex tickets are available now. As a bonus for a limited time, nine admission tickets are on sale for the price of seven shows.
The board's hands-on support of new projects and programs also contributed to Leidholdt applying for artistic director. He noted that Millbrook Playhouse is bucking a trend.
While many nonprofit theaters are struggling or closing, Mill Hall's old barn theater has been registering both popular and artistic successes in recent years. And David Leidholdt hopes to build on that success.
For season information and ticket subscription, call 570-748-8083, or visit www.millbrookplayhouse.org.