The Garfield Center’s 2024 Season Commences

The programming committee for the Garfield Center for the Arts (GCA), in Chestertown, is pleased and excited to announce the plays and musicals selected for its upcoming 2024 theatrical season, starting with “Lucky Stiff,” with opening night on February 9.

Kicking off the 2024 season is the over-the-top, hilarious musical comedy “Lucky Stiff.” With book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty, the show is based on the novel The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo, by Michael Butterworth. This was the first professionally produced musical collaboration between Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, who went on to create “Ragtime,” “Once on This Island,” and “Seussical,” along with stage musical adaptations of “My Favorite Year” and “Anastasia.” “Lucky Stiff” is directed by the GCA’s Executive Director Steven Arnold.

Fans of the 1989 film “Weekend at Bernie’s” will appreciate the story for “Lucky Stiff.” When American gangster Tony Hendon is accidentally shot and killed by his near-sighted girlfriend, Rita, his only living relative is meek London shoe salesman Harry Witherspoon. Harry will inherit a box full of embezzled diamonds worth $6 million if he takes Uncle Anthony’s body on the vacation it never had in life: a trip to Monte Carlo for an assortment of outrageous activities. Should Harry falter in executing the terms of the will, the money goes to the Universal Dog Home of Brooklyn, whose representative, Annabel, is there to spy on him. Also chasing Harry and the diamonds is Rita and her optometrist brother Vinnie, whom she blamed for the shooting to Tony’s associates. “Lucky Stiff” is fast-paced, hilarious, and it boasts a melodic score of songs that audiences will remember long after the show closes. The production will run weekends from February 9 through 25.

Opening April 19 and running through May 5, is Ken Ludwig’s Sherlock Holmes mystery-comedy “Baskerville.” Ken Ludwig is best known for “Lend Me A Tenor,” “Moon Over Buffalo,” “Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol” and the book for the musical “Crazy For You.” The play will be directed by Marcia Gilliam.

Get your deerstalker cap on – the play’s afoot! “Baskerville” brings us a fast-paced adventure about everyone’s favorite detective solving his most notorious case. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson must crack the mystery of “The Hound of the Baskervilles” before a family curse dooms its newest heir. Watch as our intrepid investigators try to escape a dizzying web of clues, silly accents, disguises and deceit. Does a wild hellhound prowl the moors of Devonshire? Can our heroes discover the truth in time? Join the fun and see how far from elementary the truth can be!

Once again bringing area audiences new, quirky, fresh and fun short plays, the Garfield Center opens “Short Attention Span Theatre” (SAST) on June 21. It will run weekends through July 7. Mark Sullivan is the producer for SAST. Following on the heels of a 2023 production that saw over 1,000 script submissions from around the world, and frequently premiering the works of local playwrights, SAST is a well-loved tradition at the Garfield Center designed to hold your attention “Just. Long. Enough.”

Noted author Kurt Vonnegut’s first play, “Happy Birthday, Wanda June,” will run weekends from August 9 though 25. Vonnegut is most famously known for his novels “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Breakfast of Champions.” While he wrote only a couple of original stage plays, his literary works have also been adapted for the stage by other playwrights. The production will be directed by JW Ruth.

In “Happy Birthday, Wanda June,” Penelope, her son Paul, and two of her suitors, a ‘hippie’ doctor and a vacuum cleaner salesman, are having a party for her husband, big-game hunter and war hero Harold Ryan, who disappeared years ago in the Amazon and is about to be declared dead. They had just purchased a pre-decorated cake, originally intended for a dead girl named Wanda June who was run over by an ice cream truck, for the party when Harold suddenly returns with his ill-fated Amazon excursion’s pilot in tow. Wanda, along with several other deceased connections to present characters (including Harold’s ex-wife Mildred, and Major von Konigswald, the Beast of Yugoslavia, Harold’s most infamous war victim) speaks to the audience from Heaven, while a nearby group of now-dead famous characters is happily playing shuffleboard. A darkly humorous and searing examination of the excesses of capitalism, patriotism, toxic masculinity, and American culture, it perfectly captures Kurt Vonnegut’s brilliantly distinct perspective.

To end the 2024 season, the Garfield Center is thrilled to bring the Broadway musical adaptation of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” to its stage. With songs that have seared their way into our hearts and minds, and a classic story for the ages, the GCA revisits a certain French provincial town, a dark and enchanted castle, and such memorable characters as Belle, Mrs. Potts, Chip, Lumiere, Cogsworth, Gaston, Maurice, LeFou, and the Beast. Featuring music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, and a book by Linda Woolverton, it is adapted from Disney’s 1991 animated film, which in turn had been based on the classic French fairy tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. Jennifer Kafka Smith will direct the production that will run for 11 performances starting December 6 through December 21.

The story is timeless: Belle, an avid fan of books and the daughter of flighty inventor Maurice, lives an uneventful life in a small town. When her father does not return from a trip to sell his latest invention, she sets out to find him. She discovers that a disfigured and terrifying Beast has imprisoned Maurice in a dark and terrifying castle. Trading her freedom for his, she becomes the Beast’s prisoner-in-residence. But not everything is as it seems, as she discovers that normally inanimate objects are enchanted and alive. Their situation, created years before by a scorned enchantress, helps Belle to slowly realize that the true nature and worth of a soul is not in its appearance. Back in town, though, Maurice reveals Belle’s imprisonment, causing her self-absorbed suitor, Gaston, to stir up the kind of trouble that will bring the story to its exciting conclusion. Featuring the well-loved title song, along with other memorable songs like “Be Our Guest,” “Belle,” and “Gaston,” this modern classic will absolutely light up next year’s holiday season and help make family memories that will be remembered for years to come.

For additional information, and to purchase tickets to any or all of these productions, visit www.garfieldcenter.org.

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