Lineup includes Theater, Music, Film, Poetry, Impov and More!
Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theater has announced its 2016-17 season and it is being kicked off with a Season Preview Party Friday, September 9 at Towngate.
Titled, “Let Us Entertain You,” the event begins with hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer in Towngate’s lobby. Then, guests head upstairs for captivating readings from each of the main stage plays featured in this year’s lineup. And if that’s not enough, the Left of Centre Players, Towngate’s own adult improv group, will take the stage. These talented performers make up stories on the spot that entertain and amuse. There’s plenty of audience participation, too. Audience members offer suggestions for scenes, conflicts, characters and theatrical styles. After the show, guests return to the lobby and enjoy a selection of desserts.
Towngate Theatre director Tim Thompson said this is the first time the theater has offered a season preview party. “We think it will be very well-received. It is a great way to get a sneak peek of our season and to celebrate and support all that Towngate brings to the community.”
He said the event is being organized and hosted by the Friends of Towngate, a volunteer group dedicated to raising awareness and funds to support Towngate and its mission. Proceeds from the season preview party go directly to Towngate and will help fund the upcoming season.
“We invite everyone to come out and support our local actors, directors, stage managers, set and costume designers. They spend months working to bring characters and stories to life. Their efforts produce amazing art time and time again,” Thompson said.
What do people have to look forward to this year at Towngate? A lot, says Thompson.
The main stage season features some of the greatest 20th Century American playwrights and includes four plays merged around the idea of family in its many forms.
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams and directed by Dave Henderson will be staged September 16-18 and 23-24. One of the most famous plays of modern theater, The Glass Menagerie takes an autobiographical view of a family trapped in poverty and teetering toward madness. An overbearing single mother, her painfully shy daughter and her restless son reveal their regrets, hopes and frustrations.
Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus by Jamie Gorski and directed by P.D. Gregg will be staged December 2-4 and 9-11. This beloved story, inspired by true events, follows a down-on-his-luck newspaperman and a sad, 8-year-old girl that meet by mail when she writes a letter inquiring about the existence of Santa Claus.
George Washington Slept Here by Moss Hart and George S. Kauffman and directed by John Reilly will be staged March 24 -26 and March 31 and April 1, 2017. This comedic romp is about a businessman who gets tired of living in the city and buys a dilapidated old shack in the country despite his wife’s objections.
Ah, Wilderness! by Eugene O’Neill and directed by Luke Hardt will be staged May 12-14 and May 19-20, 2017. A staple in American community theater, this comedic coming of age story offers a tender retrospective of small town family values, teenage growing pains and young love.
But that is not all Towngate has to offer, Thompson explained. “Towngate is more than just traditional theater. Towngate is a cornerstone of creative life in Wheeling. People of all ages and backgrounds gather here to create and experience art onstage in a variety of forms.”
Some other great things happening this year include:
Towngate Children’s Theater – This season includes a Peter Pan Ballet, The Pied Piper of Hamelin, The Nutcracker and Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs.
Towngate Live Music – Some of the region’s most versatile and entertaining musicians will perform at Towngate on select weekends throughout the year. These include Hoard and Jones, Black Slaney and Bridges.
Towngate Cinema – Iconic American films will be screened at Towngate. Get ready for In the Heat of the Night, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Bonnie and Clyde, and The Graduate.
Towngate’s Second Season – Local spoken-word artists The Prosers will perform four nights of slam poetry, with their first performance at 8 p.m. September 10, which includes an open mic session if you want to get up and say something. And if comedy is your thing, two improvisational groups will also perform at Towngate. The Left of Centre Players adult improv troupe and the Crazy 8s, which comprises high school and college-aged thespians, perform throughout the year.
“Dozens of local actors, musicians, poets, dancers and more are contributing to this full season of entertainment that is sure to entertain and inspire,” Thompson said. “We are proud to provide a venue for these performing artists to engage in the craft and hone their skills. We are equally as proud to serve as entertainment destination for residents of the Ohio Valley and beyond. We invite everyone to join us for a play, a concert, a ballet, a movie or a spoken-word performance. You won’t be disappointed.”
Towngate Theatre is located in Wheeling’s historic Centre Market District. This church-turned-theater is one of several Wheeling venues operated by the non-profit Oglebay Institute. Other OI facilities include: The Stifel Fine Arts Center and School of Dance on National Road, the Mansion Museum, Glass Museum and Schrader Environmental Education Center in Oglebay.