Hippo Manchester
August 18, 2005

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Palace announces 2005-06 season

Theater offers a diverse mix of big musicals, concerts and kids’ stuff 

By Michelle Saturley

The Palace Theatre recently unveiled its 2005-2006 season of programming, a mixture of big-name musicals, concerts, comedians and more performances by the Youth Theatre than ever.

“We are doing more Palace Youth Theatre shows than we’ve ever done,” said Peter Ramsey, executive director of the Palace. “The youth program is simply bursting at the seams. We had over 180 area kids audition for Godspell. It was amazing.”

Ramsey says the decision to expand youth programming has been building over the last couple of years.

“We hate to turn kids away,” he said. “There are so many high schools and junior high schools in New Hampshire that have no arts or theater programs. These kids should have access to the arts, and we’re happy to do it.”

In addition to the mainstage cast of Godspell, which opens Sept. 9, Ramsey says a separate youth cast, using the same set, will perform the show the week prior to the main stage opening, Labor Day weekend.

“We hope to do more of that in the future,” he said. “It’s a great learning experience for the kids, because they see the adults and older teens in the main stage production doing the same thing they are. It gives them something to work toward. They are so talented, sometimes it really blows you away.”

The Youth Theatre will also perform Les Miserables School Edition, Disney’s The Jungle Book, The Phantom Tollbooth, Into the Woods, Sleeping Beauty, and Disney’s Aladdin Jr. In addition, the Palace Professional company will cast children in A Christmas Carol, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

“The young performers are the ones who will keep The Palace going,” Ramsey said. “They are the ones who come back year after year. When they’re older, they’ll be the ones who bring their children here. That’s what we had in mind when we put the season together. We want the community to stay involved in the programming, because it’s only through community involvement that a place like The Palace can keep going.”

One show that Ramsey is especially excited about is the appearance by Jim Bailey as Barbra Streisand.

“He’s one of the most famous Barbra Streisand impersonators in the world,” Ramsey said. “He performed for years in Las Vegas as a headliner. What’s great about the show is that a portion of the ticket sales will be donated to the Southern NH AIDS Task Force.” One of Ramsey’s goals for the future is to procure an endowment for the theater.

“I would love to be able to rely less on fundraising year to year,” he said. “It would be great to go into a season and choose the shows we really want to do, and not worry about the cost of getting the rights to do them. We get a lot of support from our community, but I always worry that we will ask too much from them in the form of fundraising. You have to walk a fine line with that or people will tire of it.”

With 20-plus shows and acts already in place, The Palace will continue to book rental acts as the year progresses. Ramsey likes to keep a balance with the content and variety of shows throughout the season.

“We find that if we keep the mix at about one third of in-house productions, one third of solo acts and concerts, and one third of rental shows, such as Opera New Hampshire, it works out well for us,” he said. “Diversity is important. We want to have enough appeal so that people in the community can look at our schedule and find at least one show or act that appeals to them.”

The Palace Theatre’s 2005-06 lineup

  • Godspell, Sept. 9-17

  • Scott Kirby and Peter Mayer, Sept. 23

  • Jim Bailey is Barbra Streisand, Sept. 29

  • Beatle Juice, Oct. 1

  • Oliver, Oct. 7-15

  • Les Miserables- School Edition, Oct. 20

  • Comedian Bob Marley, Oct. 21

  • Hypnotist Frank Santos, Oct. 22

  • Rusty Dewees, Oct. 28

  • La Boheme, presented by Opera New Hampshire, Nov. 4

  • Chicago, Nov. 11-19

  • Disney’s The Jungle Book, Nov. 17

  • A Christmas Carol, Dec. 9-18

  • The Phantom Tollbooth, Jan. 28

  • Into the Woods, Feb. 16

  • 42nd Street, March 17-26

  • Sleeping Beauty, March 31

  • Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, April 7-22

  • Susannah, presented by Opera New Hampshire, May 5

  • Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, May 12-21

  • Disney’s Aladdin Jr., May 24 and 27

For tickets and information, call the box office at 668-5588 or go to www.palacetheatre.org.