Cultural Park Theater is shifting into full swing in Cape Coral for the 2012-13 summer season.
The "Wizard of Oz" kicked off this year's schedule, which features six productions in total, including two musicals and a radio play. A collaboration with the Creative Theater Workshop, the "Wizard of Oz" ran May 10-19 and included two special performances for the hearing impaired, a first for the venue.
"It was an extremely popular show for everyone," executive director Michael Moran said.
For the special performances, deaf and partially deaf actors were cast in the roles.
"All of the actors were people with hearing problems, so the whole show was done in sign language," he said, adding that the play's lines were also read aloud for those in the audience who could hear.
"For a lot of people with hearing difficulties, this was the first play that they were able to see," Moran said. "So, we were actually giving a lot of people their first experience with live theater."
Upcoming line-up at
Cultural Park Theatre
June 14 to 23
"A Chorus Line"
June 28 to July 7
"In the Restroom
July 19 to 28
"New York City Rhythms"
Aug. 2 to 11
A Live Radio Play"
Aug. 16 to 25
For further information, call 772-5862.
The regular performances were well attended, averaging about 150 people each, while both of the hearing impaired shows were sold out. A normal summer production draws about 100 attendees.
"We are definitely going to look into avenues to do that again," he said of the special performances.
"It was just so well received," Moran added. "We were very pleased with it."
"Roommates," a comedy written by playwright Joe Simonelli, debuts tonight at the theater.
"He has been compared to Neil Simon in the types of shows that he writes," he said.
Similar to "The Odd Couple," the play is about two friends who have to live together after one is thrown out of his residence. Moran described the storyline as having a "very innovative twist."
"It's the first Florida production of this show," he said.
It is the second Simonelli production that Cultural Park has put on.
The production will wrap up on June 23.
"A Chorus Line," another Creative Theater collaboration, runs June 28 to July 7.
"'A Chorus Line' is one of the most popular Broadway musicals of all time," Moran said.
"The show is absolutely incredible," he added. "It's a great dance show."
The production contains adult language and adult subject matter.
"It's not really for the younger audiences," Moran said.
A live orchestra will perform the music.
While most theaters put on their smaller low-budget productions during the summer, saving the big titles for when the snowbirds are in town, Cultural Park hopes to serve the year-round Cape residents.
"A lot of it is the experimentation factor," Moran said of performing "A Chorus Line."
"In The Restroom at Rosenblooms" takes the stage from July 19-28, followed by "New York City Rhythms" from Aug. 2-11. "In The Restroom at Rosenblooms" is a comedy that is set in a department store in the late 1960s or 1970s. The characters are similar to the four "The Golden Girls" women.
"These four ladies meet in a lounge area that's outside of the restroom area," he said, adding that the women share their life stories, including talking about departed husbands and new boyfriends.
"They're all elderly women characters," Moran said. "It's hysterical."
"New York City Rhythms" is an original, Broadway musical review show.
Written and directed by Cultural Park's Tyler Omundsen, the production combines some of the most popular Broadway music of yesterday and today with a Rowan and Martin's Laugh-in atmosphere.
"With the review shows, we try to do two or three a year," he said.
The summer finale is "Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play," written by Joe Landry.
"This is based on the stories of Alfred Hitchcock," Moran said. "The whole thing will take place in a radio set for the play - operators make all the sounds right on stage in front of the audience."
"It's going to be like going to the studios of old-time radio broadcasters and watching live actors play different characters," he added.
A few years ago, the theater put on "A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play" to rave reviews.
"If it has half the success that the former one did, we're going to love it," Moran said.
"Vintage Hitchcock: A Live Radio Play" will run Aug. 16-25.
Tickets cost $18 for adults, $16 for seniors and $12 for students. Group rates are available.
"We think it's a very ambitious season," he said. "We're just thrilled with it."
Show times for Cultural Park Theatre's production of Roommates are Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. with 3 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday through June 23.
Cultural Park Theatre is at 528 Cultural Park Blvd.
Box office hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on performance weekends.
For tickets or more information, call (239) 772-5862 or visit: www.culturalparktheater.com/.