FAIRBANKS — For 50 years, it’s been enter stage left, lower the house lights, set change after Act I, Scene III, hit your mark upstage.
If Peggy Ferguson gets her wish, you’ll be getting 50 more years of that.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Fairbanks Drama Association, of which Ferguson is the managing director. The community-driven theater, which brings sought-after productions to life on stage at its home on Second Avenue, recently announced its lineup for the 2012-2013 season, and it includes a slate of fan favorites the production company is eager to bring back to Fairbanks.
“It’s going to be golden and glowing. Fifty years!,” Ferguson said of the theater’s anniversary. “It’s an amazing thing that we have this half-century tradition of providing live theater for every season.”
For the 50th anniversary, the theater reached into its archive to bring back some of its most popular performances to the stage. In September, October and November of last year, the theater polled patrons on which performances they would like to see during the golden anniversary. The theater then took the patrons’ input, and after discussions with the artistic production committee and the board of directors, winnowed that down to six productions audience members listed as their favorites.
“It’s going to be stellar. I hope people will come out and help us celebrate,” Ferguson said.
The six productions for the 2012-2013 season each have a three-weekend run and are as follows:
‘Barefoot in the Park’
• Written by Neil Simon, directed by Bill Wright
• Sept. 14-30
This is Neil Simon’s longest-running hit, with 1,530 Broadway performances from October 1963 to June 1967. The romantic comedy follows newlyweds Corrie Bratter and Paul Bratter, who, for their first home, live in an apartment on the top floor of a brownstone in New York City. During the course of four days, the couple learn to live as a “couple” while facing the usual daily ups-and-downs. Corrie wants the uptight Paul to become more easy-going, to, for example, run “barefoot in the park.”
‘Short & Sweet: 8 x 10 Festival Favorites’
• Directed by Shannon Luster
• Oct. 26-Nov. 11
Eight top plays by Alaska playwrights have been selected for this year’s “Short & Sweet” production. The plays were chosen out of 100 winning plays from the annual 8 X 10 Festival’s first 10 years. The performances are “The Importance of Ritual,” by Linda Billington of Anchorage; “Don’t Fence Me In,” by D. John McKay of Anchorage; “Roadkill,” by Tom Moran of Fairbanks; “The Perfect Bride,” by Mollie Ramos of Valdez; “10 Minutes,” by Jason Hodges of Anchorage; “Intermission,” by Steve Mitchell of Fairbanks; “Self-Inflicted,” by Dawson Moore of Valdez; and “We Have to Tell Them,” by former Fairbanksan Jon Browne.
• Adapted by Joseph Robinette from the book by E.B. White, directed by Valinda Taylor
• Nov. 30-Dec. 16
The classic tale and beloved children’s book follows the deeds of farm-girl Fern; her favorite pet pig, Wilbur, who she saves from death; Templeton, the gluttonous rat; and Charlotte, the spider who weaves her way into their lives.
‘The Diary of Anne Frank’
• Adapted by Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett from the popular book “The Diary of a Young Girl,” directed by Stephanie Snowman
• Feb. 8-24
Set in Nazi-occupied Amsterdam, the plays follows the familiar story of Anne Frank, the young Jewish girl who hid with her family for two years in secluded rooms of her father’s office building before their capture by the Germans.
‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’
• Rock ’n’ roll musical featuring the songs of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, directed by Peggy Ferguson
• March 22-April 7
Singing, dancing and a live band on stage make up this hit show that opened on Broadway in 1995 and ran for 2,036 performances. Some of the classics you’ll hear include “Love Potion No. 9,” “Yakety-Yak,” “Spanish Harlem,” “Hound Dog,” “There Goes My Baby” and “Stand By Me.”
‘Arsenic and Old Lace’
• By Joseph Kesselring, directed by Steve Mitchell
• May 10-26
The beloved comedy classic follows two spinster sisters and their murderous exploits while dealing with a family of unforgettable and slightly mentally unstable characters. The production originally opened on Broadway in January 1941 and closed in June 1944 after 1,444 performances.
Later in the season, the theater is amping up its celebrations with its newly formed 50th Season Celebration Committee, of which Borough Mayor Luke Hopkins is the honorary chairman. The coming year features several celebratory events, but probably the biggest one is the renaming of the theater. The board of directors voted last month to rename the Riverfront Theatre as “The Hap Ryder Riverfront Theatre,” in honor of the late Bertram “Hap” Ryder, one of the founding members of the Fairbanks Drama Association.
“Hap was a founder and theater educator and gave 35 years to the local community theater scene and FDA,” Ferguson said.
And by keeping the theater going, she said, it’s her goal to grow the live theater experience in Fairbanks and continue Ryder’s legacy.
“What we sell in theater is experiences — the experience of seeing a production come to life,” Ferguson said. “I would hope this year brings a real revival with ever-increasing audience members who want that arts experience.”
If you go
• Riverfront Theatre, 1852 Second Ave. The box office is open daily, Monday through Friday, from 10:30 a.m.
to 5 p.m.
• 456-PLAY (7529) for general questions and ticketing information
• SEASON TICKETS are still available and are on sale through Oct. 1. Tickets can be purchased at the theater or via the 2012-2013 season brochure, which can be mailed to you. Season tickets are
$100 for adults; $90 for seniors, military and university students; and $70 for teens ages 13-18.
Contact Features Editor Gary Black at 459-7504.