Next Clarence Brown season: varied and ‘plain fun!’

Brian Gligor will play Monty Navarro in the hilarious season closer, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder.”

“Going back to Greek times, theater has been trying to do the same thing,” Cal MacLean, producing artistic director of the Clarence Brown Theatre, said on Saturday morning. “Be interesting and entertaining. And make a commentary about the times.”

Judging from the performances scheduled for the Clarence Brown’s 2019-2020 season, unveiled to season ticket holders today over breakfast at The Foundry at World’s Fair Park, that commentary will take the forms of music, farce, satire, classical tragedy, contemporary comedy and, as MacLean said, “just plain fun!”

Actually, the breakfast itself was just plain fun. As has become tradition, various actors popped up in the audience as MacLean announced next season’s productions, delivering a few lines from most of them.

More than 200 folks filled The Foundry for the breakfast announcement. Robin Conklin, Clarence Brown’s marketing and PR director, said the announcement party will move to a larger venue next year.

The season will open with “Million Dollar Quartet,” the story about the impromptu Dec. 4, 1956, jam session at Sun Records Studio featuring none other than Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash.

The play was nominated for three Tony Awards when it played on Broadway. Levi Kreis, who played Jerry Lee Lewis, took home the Tony for Best Featured Actor in a Musical. Kreis will be in the Knoxville production playing famed record producer Sam Phillips. The musical will run Aug. 28 through Sept. 22. The day it closes, Kreis that night will perform a 90-minute concert of Broadway music with proceeds benefiting the Clarence Brown Theatre’s Artist Endowment Fund. (We are particularly excited about this production because Moxley Carmichael is a sponsor of it.)

Levi Kreis will perform in concert at the Clarence Brown Theatre on Sept. 22.

The second play will be “People Where They Are,” a new piece by Anthony Clarvoe that was commissioned by the Clarence Brown Theatre. Ironically, it is about the Highlander Folk School, an organization in the news this weekend as it recovers from a fire that destroyed “decades of archives” on Friday.

Owen Squire Smith grabbed a guitar and sang, “We Shall Not Be Moved,” from the play, which runs at the Carousel Theatre Oct. 2 through 20.

Cal MacLean, Clarence Brown Theatre’s producing artistic director, making remarks about each scheduled performance.

“Exit, Pursued by a Bear,” will be performed in the tiny Lab Theatre Nov. 1 through 10.

The term, “Exit, pursued by a bear,” is considered to be the most famous of Shakespeare’s stage directions. This play, says MacLean, is “a wild revenge comedy set in the North Georgia mountains.” He also called it, “theatrically daring.” Sounds fun!

Jed Diamond will be back as Scrooge when “A Christmas Carol” opens Nov. 27 and runs through Dec. 21.

Here’s Diamond delivering a few Scrooge lines. “It wouldn’t be Christmas without this play,” MacLean said. “It’s a play about people opening up.”

I can’t wait to see “Blithe Spirit,” the Noel Coward play that will run Feb. 5 through 23. Why? Because Carol Mayo Jenkins will star in it!

She delivered a few pithy lines this morning.

“It is witty, styish, precise with language and elegant,” MacLean said. “It is a hard-nosed examination of the gamesmanship between men and women.”

Next up: “Hamlet,” or, as MacLean calls it, “the greatest play in the English language.” It will run in the Carousel Theatre Feb. 26 through March 15.

“To thine own self be true,” David Alley, playing Polonius, advised Brian Gligor, playing Laertes, in lines from the William Shakespeare play, “Hamlet.”

“The Clown Project” will be performed in the Lab Theatre March 27 through April 5, 2020.

Referred to as “devised theater” by MacLean, it will be an original performance piece developed with University of Tennessee students by noted physical comedian Zachary Fine. “It might be great,” MacLean said. “It might be good. It might be OK. You just never know!” Hmm.

We saw this on Broadway and loved it! Can you say multiple Tony Awards that year — 2014?

It will run at the Clarence Brown April 22, 2020, to May 10.

Tom Cervone, managing director of the Clarence Brown Theatre, welcomed guests this morning.

Breakfast was bountiful.

It was fun seeing these three! From left, Fran Scheidt, John North and Georgiana Vines.

Here’s a plug for the upcoming fundraising gala. Honoree is Jennifer Tipton, an award-winning lighting designer.

OK. Go get those season tickets: click here.

Here’s a 30-second video of Owen Squire Smith singing “We Shall Not Be Moved” from “People Where They Are.”

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8 Responses to Next Clarence Brown season: varied and ‘plain fun!’

  1. Robin Conklin, on March 30th, 2019 at 4:50 pm said:

    Thanks so much Cynthia!

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on March 30th, 2019 at 5:21 pm said:

    Robin: It’s an amazing season! Great job on CBT’s part!

  3. Sara Pinnell, on March 31st, 2019 at 11:22 am said:

    An exciting season to look forward to!!

  4. Cynthia Moxley, on March 31st, 2019 at 12:19 pm said:

    Sara: I agree completely!

  5. Sandra Clark, on March 31st, 2019 at 2:14 pm said:

    Wow! Looks like a great season ahead.

  6. Cynthia Moxley, on March 31st, 2019 at 2:33 pm said:

    Sandra: It really does have something for everyone.

  7. Cal MacLean, on April 1st, 2019 at 11:31 am said:

    Thanks for being a part of the breakfast and the season MOXLEY-CARMICHAEL!

  8. Cynthia Moxley, on April 1st, 2019 at 2:28 pm said:

    Cal: Thanks for handling the season announcement this way. Your comments give me something to write about and offer valuable info about each production.

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