Super Summer Theatre to launch season May 18

Super Summer Theatre is ready to kick off its 2012 season with a revamped stage and new productions.

"Oh, boy, we have a good season," said Lisa Davis, publicity chair for the nonprofit theater that puts on performances at Spring Mountain Ranch State Park.

The season opens with groundbreaking show, "A Grand Night for Singing," directed by Aaron Coulson and featuring some of the best-known songs of Rodgers and Hammerstein. The show was written for a quintet, but Coulson decided on a new take and unusual staging for the work and has included a cast of 35, half of whom are deaf or hard of hearing.

"The entire production is done in American Sign Language as well as voice," Coulson said. "So you’re getting the full band orchestration and the dynamic voices on top of the merging of cultures."

Before moving to Las Vegas two years ago, Coulson was in a six-year relationship with a deaf person in New York City and became acquainted with and fascinated with deaf culture. He was inspired to create the production company Las Vegas Deaf Theater by Deaf West Theatre’s production of "Big River" on Broadway.

"There are close to 80,000 in the area, so I thought, ‘Hey, let’s start something,’ " Coulson said. "It’s a merger of hearing professional actors and deaf and hard-of-hearing actors from the Las Vegas area."

The production is a collaboration of Rag Tag Entertainment and Coulson’s group. His eventual plan is to include captioning devices for the deaf or hard of hearing who don’t know ASL, but budget constraints precluded that for this show.

Coulson said each scene is staged a little differently. For instance, in some scenes, deaf and hearing actors mirror one another on the opposite side of the stage. In others, a hearing actor will provide the voice for a deaf or hard-of-hearing actor who performs the main action.

"It has been awesome watching the hearing actors learning signing and the deaf culture ways," Coulson said, "and watching the deaf people watching the hearing people and learning more about the stage because a lot of the hearing actors have more experience with the stage."

In June, P.S. Productions plans to present "Crazy for You," a musical comedy featuring the music of George and Ira Gershwin.

"It’s a fun show," Davis said. "It’s a mistaken identity story that takes place in the fictional town of Deadrock, Nevada."

The story is set in the 1930s and features Bobby Child, a playboy who dreams of escaping banking to dance. He is sent to foreclose a theater but instead falls for a local girl, decides to pose as New York theater producer Zangler and puts together a show to save the theater. The challenges of turning cowboys into dancers pales in comparison to the problems that arise when Child’s mother, fiancee and the real Zangler arrive.

The show features several well-known Gershwin songs, including "I Got Rhythm," "They Can’t Take That Away from Me," "Nice Work If You Can Get It," "Embraceable You" and "Someone to Watch Over Me."

July brings the British National Theatre of America’s production of the musical "Oliver!" based on the Charles Dickens novel "Oliver Twist."

"We’re going to have to do a primer for that one," Davis said. "It will be a very British production, and sometimes the British and American word is a little bit different."

The British National Theatre of America is a local company featuring British residents living and performing here. They produced last year’s Super Summer Theatre show "The Foreigner."

In August, "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" is set to come to Super Summer Theatre for the third time.

"Each time it’s a little different," Davis said. "The first time Joseph was on roller skates. This one will be Joseph with more of a rock twist."

The season is scheduled to wrap up in September with "Leader of the Pack: The Ellie Greenwich Musical."

"This show is produced by Neon Jungle," Davis said. "It’s a new production group for us, and it should be a great show with lots of good music."

The musical is a look at the life of the Brooklyn-born doo-wop legend and includes the hit songs "Leader of the Pack," "Be My Little Baby" and "Chapel of Love."

For more information, visit supersummertheatre.org or call 594-7529.

Contact Sunrise/Whitney View reporter F. Andrew Taylor at ataylor@viewnews.com or 380-4532.

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