After a season lost to the COVID-19 lockdown, Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Theatre Company is aiming to return this fall, with a 2021-2022 season loaded with upbeat works.
“Theatre has the power to elicit every human emotion including humor, sadness, anger, inspiration, hope, or fear,” Karen Azenberg, the company’s artistic director, said in a statement, “but this year, well, we all just want to feel good.”
Christopher Massimine, Pioneer’s managing director, said the company also aims to “address inequities and social deficits in light of last summer’s community unrest. … Professional theatre needs the community’s support more than ever this year as we journey back to ‘normal’ and we’ve constructed a season to reward that support.”
The new season, announced Monday, will showcase four musicals and two plays, plus one show whose title has not been revealed. Here’s the lineup:
Sept. 10-25 • “Ain’t Misbehavin’,” the musical (first produced in 1978) that showcases the music of the legendary Harlem jazz pianist and songwriter Thomas “Fats” Waller. The show will be presented as a concert musical, with minimal sets and costumes, which will allow for a smaller, socially distanced audience if required by COVID-19 guidelines from the state of Utah, Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City and the University of Utah (where Pioneer’s theater building sits).
Oct. 22-Nov. 6 • The delayed world premiere of “Ass,” a new comedy by Ellen Simon, about an irascible sculptor and his estranged son. Originally set for March 2020, the production was canceled as the pandemic started. Azenberg and Simon go way back: Azenberg’s father, Emanuel, produced the plays of Ellen’s father, Neil Simon, for three decades.
Dec. 3-18 • “Elf the Musical,” the 2010 stage adaptation of the 2003 holiday movie, about a human raised by one of Santa’s workers, who must learn about life in New York City.
Jan. 14-29, 2022 • “The Messenger,” playwright Jeff Talbott’s “astonishingly prescient” play — inspired by Henrik Ibsen’s “An Enemy of the People” — about what happens when someone speaks out about a public health crisis that threatens the local economy. The play was part of PTC’s “Play-by-Play” reading series on March 13 and 14, 2020, just as everything was closing because of COVID-19; the Friday night show went on, in the roomier main stage, but the two Saturday shows were canceled.
Feb. 25-March 12, 2022 • The musical spoof “Something Rotten!,” about two 16th century theater producers who must find a way to compete with William Shakespeare — and come up with the wacky idea of writing a play in which the actors sing and dance. The production is loaded with puns and double-entendres, and a wealth of “Easter egg” references to popular musicals. PTC was preparing to produce “Something Rotten!” in spring 2020 when the pandemic shut everything down.
May 13-28, 2022 • Jerry Herman’s beloved musical “Hello, Dolly!,” which follows matchmaker Dolly Gallagher Levi in her quest to find a suitable spouse for the “unmarried half-a-millionaire” Horace Vandergelder. Carol Channing played Dolly on Broadway, Barbra Streisand took the role in the 1969 movie, and Bette Midler starred in the 2017 Broadway revival.
April 1-16, 2022 • A seventh production, to be named later.
Season tickets go on sale Tuesday, March 23, at 10 a.m. — either by calling the PTC box office at 801-581-6961, or going online to pioneertheatre.org. Subscriptions of seven or five plays are offered. A sale date for individual tickets is yet to be announced.