Gretna Theatre celebrates its 85th Anniversary season at the Mt. Gretna Playhouse with a sparkling opening performance by the one and only Tommy Tune in "Steps in Time" featuring the Manhattan Rhythm Kings for a single performance Sunday, June 3 at 7:30 pm. The nine-time Tony Award winner will perform his Broadway biography in song and dance to celebrate 50 years on the Great White Way.
Gretna Theatre, founded in 1927 and located in south central Pennsylvania in the arts resort community of Mt. Gretna, produces its season of summer stock in June and July. Producing artistic director Larry Frenock said, "We are incredibly excited to have a true Broadway legend to open our anniversary season. The show lineup was already diverse and exciting, and this is a real sparkler to top it off. Our patrons are going to be thrilled!"
Broadway veterans, major film and television stars, regional actors and local talent make up the pool of talent that appears each year. The season begins with "Little Women, The Musical" June 7 – 17 and stars Gretna favorite Kathryn Kendall as Marmee (Gretna's "Mame" and "Dolly," national tours "Jerome Robbins' Broadway," "42nd Street," "Showboat," 25th Anniversary tour of "Nunsense" and more) and Jessica Chesbro as Jo March (Fantine in "Les Miserables," Annie Oakley in "Annie Get Your Gun" regionally). The heartwarming and beloved story of Jo, Beth, Meg and Amy March growing up in Civil War America is one of the most popular books of all time, now set to music as a Broadway musical will be directed and choreographed by Jason Summers.
The Leslie Darbon adaptation of Agatha Christie's "A Murder is Announced" plays June 21 – 24 only, starring Kathleen Huber as Miss Marple (she has starred in everything from "The Madwoman of Chaillot" in New York to "Gigi" at Papermill Playhouse in New Jersey to "My Fair Lady" at Music Theatre of Wichita) and Christopher Vettel (Gretna's Beau in "Mame" as well as the 30th Anniversary tour of "Annie," 2nd National Tour of "Sunset Boulevard") as Inspector Craddock, directed by Daniel Winerman.
Gretna Theatre is producing a 40th Anniversary production of the original "Grease" running June 28 – July 8. This production will be directed by Lancaster native Barry Pearl who was in the First National Tour of the show as well as the film version with John Travolta with choreography by Judy Williams Henry. Many subsequent versions have been produced, including some that interpolated scenes and songs from the film. Frenock noted, "Barry (Pearl) and I agreed immediately that we wanted to bring the show back to its roots, back to the production that made it a hit engendering an eight-year run on Broadway. Barry's stature in the industry with his four Broadway shows, as well as his history with "Grease" will make for an exciting mix. The director of the film version, Randal Kleiser, grew up in Lebanon, PA just outside of Mt. Gretna and has announced he will attend the opening of "Grease" as well. Happily, Laura Jean D'Andre has agreed to reprise her role of Rizzo from the recent Broadway National Tour of the show, and Thaddeus Pearson as Danny Zuko makes his Gretna debut. "Grease" and Gretna – we go together!"
The new Larry McKenna musical comedy featuring the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David "Burt & Me" will have its central Pennsylvania premiere this summer July 12 - 15. The McKenna family has vacationed in Mt. Gretna for many years and "he is thrilled to have a show he wrote produced at Gretna Theatre," said Frenock. The show features over 20 Burt Bacharach tunes that help to tell the love story of high school sweethearts who drift apart during and after college – only to get back together with the help of those very same Bacharach tunes. Directed and choreographed by Dennis Courtney, the five member cast includes Caleb Damschroder making his Gretna debut ("Miss Saigon" at Pittsburgh Civic Light Opera, "Thoroughly Modern Millie" at Cohoes Music Hall) and Broadway's Steve Luker (Gretna's "George M!" and "The Will Rogers Follies" and Broadway's "42nd Street").