A wide swath of theater, from a 17th century classic to a still-in-development musical, is represented in the productions planned for Utah’s Pioneer Theatre Company in its 2022-2023 season.
The big news on the slate, announced Thursday, is the world premiere of “Shucked!,” a musical being developed to go to Broadway. It is scheduled to run at Pioneer Memorial Theatre, 300 S. 1400 East, on the University of Utah campus from Oct. 28 to Nov. 12.
PTC revealed few details on “Shucked!” in its release. In 2020, the New York Post reported that its creators based the show on the long-running TV series “Hee Haw,” which combined corny comedy with country music. Since that 2020 interview, though, “the show has evolved in such a way that it no longer has anything to do with ‘Hee Haw,’” said Karen Azenberg, PTC’s artistic director.
In a news release, Azenberg described the production as a “hilarious musical fable about an unlikely hero, an unscrupulous con man, and an unforgettable battle for the heart and soil of a small town.”
The score is by Grammy-nominated country singer-songwriters Shane McAnally and Brandy Clark, with a book by Robert Horn, a Tony winner for the musical “Tootsie.” Directing the show is Jack O’Brien, who has three Tonys on his shelf — including for directing the original Broadway production of “Hairspray.”
Three other musicals are on PTC’s roster next season: “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” based on the beloved holiday movie, from Dec. 9 to 24; “Putting It Together,” a musical revue of the songs of Stephen Sondheim, from March 3 to 18, 2023; and the Utah theatrical premiere of “The Prom,” about a group of theater pros who invade an Indiana town when they hear a girl won’t be allowed to attend her school’s prom with her girlfriend, will close out the season, May 12-27, 2023.
The season opens, Sept. 16 to Oct. 1, with “Scapin,” an adaptation of Molière’s 17th-century comedy, written by Stephen Wrentmore. Updated to 1960s Naples — in the era of “La Dolce Vita” — the story follows the fast-talking servant Scapin helping the meddlesome mothers of Octave and Léander make sure their sons are well-married.
Another world premiere, of Kareem Fahmy’s play “A Distinct Society,” will be performed Jan. 27 to Feb. 11, 2023, The play is set in a quiet library that straddles the U.S./Canadian border, and becomes an unlikely meeting place for separated families. The play was a finalist for the 2020 National Showcase of New Plays, and winner of the Next Act! New Play summit.
A third play, whose title has yet to be announced, will run April 7 to 22, 2023 — as the inaugural production in the new Meldrum Theatre at the Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse on the University of Utah campus.
The theater is expected to be completed in early 2023, in the renovated fieldhouse that was once the home to the Utes basketball team (before the Huntsman Center opened in 1969).
“We have long needed a more intimate performing space for contemporary and new works,” said Diane Parisi, PTC’s interim managing director. Parisi credited the support of Peter Meldrum, the founder of Myriad Genetics who died in December 2018, and his wife, Cathie, for supporting the new space.
Here is the full schedule for PTC’s 2022-2023 season:
“Scapin” (Sept. 16-Oct. 1): Adaptation of Moliére farce.
“Shucked!” (Oct. 28- Nov.12): New musical comedy, reportedly based on “Hee Haw.”
“A Christmas Story: The Musical” (Dec. 9-Dec.24): Based on the beloved holiday movie.
“A Distinct Society” (Jan. 27-Feb 11.): World premiere of Kareem Fahmy’s play.
“Putting It Together” (March 3-18): A revue of Stephen Sondheim’s songs.
TBA (Apr. 7-22): Inaugural performance at the new Meldrum Theatre at the Einar Nielsen Fieldhouse.
“The Prom” (May 12-27): Musical comedy about Broadway actors invading a small town.
There are several ticket subscription packages available for this season. You can also call 801-581-6961.