A world-famous disaster musical, a grande dame of the classic Hollywood cinema and an all-new production by string-music showstoppers are just three of the 15 shows, cabaret concerts and lectures slated for the Crest Theatre’s 2012-2013 season.
The schedule was announced a couple of weeks ago, just as the Delray Beach theater’s 2011-2012 season was drawing to a close. The Crest is often one of the very first venues to announce its cultural season, because Old School Square President Joe Gillie plans more than a year ahead – in five months, he will already have some idea of the shows he’ll slate for 2013-2014. It’s part of the reason Crest has been one of the most successful theaters in South Florida for what will be 20 years next February.
“I have a sense of my audience … I know what they like, which is most important,” Gillie says. “I’m able to listen to them. I’m at every performance, no matter what; I’m there so my audience can talk to me. We’ve been successful because I’ve had that accessibility.”
Gillie has already received feedback praising the variety of next season’s lineup. It begins Nov. 16-18 with the national tour of “Titanic,” a sweeping, Tony-winning musical with an appropriately dour conclusion. “I don’t think a musical has to be Rodgers and Hammerstein all the time,” Gillie says. “It’s the hundredth anniversary [of the sinking], and this is a great way to honor that.”
The season continues Nov. 30-Dec. 2 with Bowfire, the internationally recognized collective of fiddlers and violinists, presenting an all-new holiday show of familiar tunes, from “Sleigh Ride” to klezmer classics. Broadway superstar Michael Cavanaugh, hand-picked by Billy Joel to star in “Movin’ Out,” will sing on Feb. 15-17, and the national tour of the family favorite “Fiddler on the Roof” will be presented Feb. 22-24.
I’m most excited about “Tap, the Show” (March 8-10), a celebration of tap dancing from its ‘40s Broadway heyday toward its various incarnations in Irish, flamenco and street dancing. Expect to see a show that brings back tap memories from Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly while charting the dance form’s evolution and modern relevance.
Then comes a Neil Simon comedy, the Tony-winning “Biloxi Blues,” on March 22-24 – amazingly, it marks the first Simon work in the Crest’s two-decade history. The play arrives courtesy of the Montana Repertory Theatre, which presented “Steel Magnolias” at Crest several years ago. “We’re comfortable with the productions they bring in. They’re first-rate when it comes to touring and what they provide,” Gillie says. “It will be a Broadway-caliber show.”
Don’t forget the lecture series, which begins monthly, starting in January. Hollywood legend Joan Collins, one of the biggest names the Crest has ever corralled, will kick the series off on Jan. 17 to speak about her 60 feature films and dozens of television series. “Everybody talks bout having bucket lists of people you want to meet,” Gillie says. “When I got to the lecture series, I thought it would be a thrill to meet Joan Collins. Everybody thinks of her as an evil, nasty woman, but I’ve found her to be the sweetest person in the world. She’s not a diva; she’s just a great lady. I can sense that already.”
The series continues with syndicated advice columnist Heloise (Feb. 14); screenwriter, illustrator and jack-of-all-trade Jules Feiffer (March 14); and Royal Family chef Darren McGrady, another one of Gillie’s most anticipated bookings: “He was Queen Elizabeth’s chef for 15 years, and I’m hoping he’ll be able to tell us what’s in her purse!”
For the Crest Theatre’s season schedule – and most of the Cornell Museum’s upcoming exhibitions – visit oldschool.org or call 561/243-7922. In the meantime, don’t miss Old School Square’s Beerfest from 4 to 8 p.m. this Saturday, April 21.