Wichita’s stages are calling, offering more than 20 live shows this summer, from lavish musicals to crisp comedies to melodramas and slapstick farces – even a handful of family-friendly fairy tales geared specifically toward children as young as 2.
Beginning this summer, Music Theatre of Wichita is rebranding itself as simply Music Theatre Wichita – dropping the “of” after 43 years.
And its abbreviated nickname, MTW, is now being changed to MTWichita to coordinate with its www.mtwichita.org website.
“It’s a streamlining thing,” said producing artistic director Wayne Bryan, who is beginning his 27th year at the helm of Wichita’s premier regional theater that offers five fully-staged Broadway shows headed by guest professionals from New York and Los Angeles over a whirlwind 10-week season.
“It’s also to clear up any confusion with other groups that also have claim to the MTW name, like Music Theatre West and Music Theatre Workshop,” Bryan said. “We’re trying to get everyone used to thinking of us as MTWichita so it’ll make it easier to find us online.”
MTWichita’s theme this year is “Passport to Broadway,” which Bryan said was suggested by a Facebook friend because the shows’ settings involved such wide geography, from exotic islands in the South Pacific to ancient (and perhaps a tad glitzy) Egypt to both the bright lights and mean streets of New York City.
The newest show is the regional premiere of “Catch Me If You Can,” a romp based on the Leonardo DiCaprio/Tom Hanks movie about a clever young conman perpetually one step ahead of the law. The show was on Broadway just two years ago. There are also encores of classic shows that haven’t been done here for years, such as “South Pacific” (19 years ago) and “42nd Street” (17 years).
The reason for bringing back vintage shows, Bryan said, is both for younger audience members who have never seen them staged before and to broaden the practical experience for the energetic young ensemble of 26 singers/dancers/actors who use Music Theatre Wichita as a stepping stone to Broadway.
Also gearing up for the summer is Kechi Playhouse with five shows, including the world premiere of an original, locally written farce by theater founder Misty Maynard.
“This will be Kechi Playhouse’s 32nd year of producing plays in the old church located on the corner of North Oliver and 61st Street,” Maynard said. “The building, built in 1920, became a theater in 1983 and has been going strong ever since, producing a different play each month from June to October, from nostalgic old favorites to new comedies to, lately, some original scripts.”
Joined by year-round venues like Crown Uptown Theatre, Mosley Street Melodrama, Forum Theatre and Wichita Community Theatre, the summer season has enough variety to suit virtually all tastes. Here’s a look at what’s coming:
Music Theatre Wichita
Crown Uptown Theatre
Mosley Street Melodrama
Wichita Community Theatre
WSR Signature Theatre
Wichita Children’s Theatre & Dance Center
Crown Uptown Children’s Theatre