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Popular titles, guest directors return to Civic

July 15, 2018

Hocker

One of the reasons given for the slow start to Rochester Civic Theatre’s season last fall was the nature of the plays being offered.

Theater board members at the time said they realized that the season began with plays that were either unfamiliar to audiences or unpopular.

They’re not about to repeat that mistake this year.

“We have a great season coming up,” said Kay Hocker, president of the Civic’s board of directors.

Whereas the 2017-2018 season opened with “Urinetown,” the 2018-2019 season opens with “Shrek: The Musical.” Based on anecdotal evidence (and poor ticket sales), it appeared that the title and topic of “Urinetown” didn’t sit well with Civic patrons.

By contrast, “Shrek” is a known commodity — an upbeat, funny musical. It opens a season full of well-known titles: “Barefoot in the Park,” “Annie,” “The Diary of Anne Frank,” “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “The Graduate” and “The Importance of Being Earnest.”

For the upcoming season, the Civic will continue to hire guest directors for each show.

“It has been remarkably successful,” Hocker said. The practice has helped draw new talent to the theater, she said.

“Different guest directors have different relationships,” she said. “There are different reasons that different sets of actors want to work with them.”

Misha Johnson, of Rochester, who directed last season’s “The Addams Family,” will direct “Shrek,” which opens the season on Sept. 7.

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