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Totem Pole Playhouse posts 2016 season

FAYETTEVILLE – Totem Pole Playhouse has announced two new plays and the return of two classic musicals for the theater’s 66th summer season.

Prior to the start of the season, beginning May 17 for one week only, Totem Pole will present a special return engagement of last season’s biggest hit, "Lovesick Blues," a tribute concert featuring Robbie Limon as Hank Williams Sr. and Denise Patton as Patsy Cline.

Backed by a six piece band, the duo sings such country western classics as: "Honky Tonk Blues," "Hey Good Lookin'," "Jambalaya (On the Bayou)," "The Lost Highway," "Crazy," "I Fall to Pieces," "Walkin' After Midnight," "Sweet Dreams," and special duet of “Your Cheatin’ Heart,” which was a hit record for both artists. Totem Pole helped to create the world premiere concert with Limon and Patton and it sold out almost every performance last August, playing to 99 percent capacity at the 380-seat playhouse, according to a press release announcing the 2016 season.

"Lovesick Blues" is a bonus offering and not part of the playhouse’s four-show subscription season.

Kicking off the subscription season will be "Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks," a touching and human comedy with music and dance which also addresses the serious issues of ageism and intolerance. Lily Harrison, a formidable retired woman, hires Michael Minetti, an acerbic dance instructor, to give her private lessons – one per week for six weeks. What begins as an antagonistic relationship blossoms into an intimate friendship as these two people from very different backgrounds reveal their secrets, fears, and joys while dancing swing, tango, foxtrot, cha-cha and contemporary dance.

Michael Bloom, former artistic director of the Cleveland Play House, the nation’s first regional theater, will direct the production which runs from May 27 through June 12. The play contains adult themes and situations not suitable for audiences under the age of 16.

One of the most successful musicals in the Totem Pole’s 66-year history, "Forever Plaid," will return after nearly 10 years as a guest production of Los Angeles' critically-acclaimed Theatre A Go-Go Inc.

"Forever Plaid" is one of the most popular musicals in recent memory, a deliciously fun revue chock-full of classic barbershop quartet harmonies and pitch-perfect melodies. Four high school students discover they share a love for music and get together to become their idols - The Four Freshman, The Hi-Lo's and The Crew Cuts. Singing in close harmony, squabbling boyishly over the smallest intonations and executing their charmingly outlandish choreography with over-zealous precision, the "Plaids" have been delighting theatergoers young and old with a program of beloved songs and delightful patter that keeps audiences rolling in the aisles when they're not humming along to some of the great nostalgic pop hits of the 1950s.

David Hemsley Caldwell, who directed last season’s hit comedy "The Nerd," returns to direct and choreograph the guest production. Totem Pole’s musical director, Darren Server, will appear on-stage alongside the Plaids and handle the production’s musical direction. The show will run June 17-July 3 and is suitable for the entire family.

A Neil Simon-esque comedy written by the celebrated acerbic stand-up comic, Lewis Black, is the third offering of the four-show subscription season. "One Slight Hitch" was first written by Black just after graduating with a degree in playwriting from the prestigious Yale School of Drama. Set in 1981, the play focuses on the Coleman family of Cincinnati, Ohio — Doc, Delia and their three daughters — on the day of their oldest daughter’s backyard wedding.

The bride-to-be, Courtney, is set to marry Harper, a conservative, straight-laced, all-American guy. However, that becomes much more difficult when Courtney’s long-time, free-spirited ex-boyfriend Ryan shows up at the front door, apparently unaware of the day’s significance, and won’t go away. The result is a zany, door-slamming comedy about stressed-out parents, less-than-helpful siblings and the madness of a wedding day gone amuck from the mind of comedian Lewis Black. Rand Foerster, a long-time collaborator of Black’s, will direct the play.

Closing out the season, Totem Pole’s favorite son, John Putch, will return to direct one of the funniest musical comedies ever written, "A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," with music and lyrics from the legendary Stephen Sondheim and book by multiple Tony and Emmy Award-winning writer Larry Gelbart, who created the smash TV series "M*A*S*H."

"A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum," is a nonstop laugh fest in which Pseudolus, a crafty slave, struggles to win the hand of a beautiful but slow-witted courtesan named Philia for his young master, Hero, in exchange for freedom. The plot twists and turns with cases of mistaken identity, slamming doors, and a showgirl or two - or three, or four, or five. Darren Server will serve as musical director and Franklin County native and Broadway star Katrina Yaukey will return to choreograph the production. This unforgettable, hysterical musical is suitable for the entire family.

Subscription prices for all four shows range from $84 to $133 for junior subscriptions (ages 5 to 15) and $108 to $171 for adult subscriptions. Single ticket prices for the season range from $30 to $50, and two low-cost preview performances will once again be offered this season. In addition, a flex subscription plan will be offered at the same prices whereby subscribers have the flexibility to choose the performance they wish to attend rather than be locked into a set date for each production. Regular and flex subscribers pay no additional ticket processing or handling fees; both fees will apply to single ticket buyers beginning this season at the playhouse.

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