After a 2020 hiatus, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival announced its 50th season earlier this month. What started in a high school auditorium in Anniston in 1972 has grown into a leader in the performing arts with a $21.5 million performing arts complex in Montgomery, a designation as the State Theatre of Alabama, and a loyal following.
The ASF broadens the cultural identity of the South by producing classics, Shakespeare, contemporary plays, musicals, theatre for young audiences, and exciting new works. Since its inception, ASF has provided education programs to more than one million students. The annual SchoolFest, a student-matinee program, presents high-quality theatrical experiences to nearly 35,000 students.
Artistic Director Rick Dildine and Executive Director Todd Schmidt announced the 2021-2022 Festival Season earlier in August, which features nine productions exploring stories of contemporary culture, heroic activists, everyday people in extraordinary times, and lots of music.
“It’s time to come back together. The long intermission is finally coming to a close,” said ASF Artistic Director Rick Dildine. “I knew the 50th anniversary would be a year marked with celebration, but I didn’t realize it may very well be our most defining. What we do best is what people need most right now: we need to be together. This season spans real life to fairy tale. It celebrates families and heritage. It spans from Medieval Scotland to modern day Ferguson, Missouri. World premieres and some classics that never get old. There’s serious art and some pure campy moments. Almost all of the shows have never been performed at ASF.”
The season opens with the world premiere of Deneen Reynolds-Knott’s “Shoebox Picnic Road Side: Route 1,” a uniquely immersive outdoor experience for audiences. For the holidays, ASF will perform Rogers + Hammerstein’s “Cinderella” and Greta Lambert’s one-woman adaptation of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” In the new year, theatergoers can look forward to “Macbeth,” “Little Shop Of Horrors,” “Until the Flood,” “Freedom Rider”, and two summer musicals: “The Marvelous Wonderettes” and “American Mariachi.” (More info on all plays below.)
“I am thrilled with the new season and the diversity of the shows we are creating. And for the opportunity to bring the community together for live performances of professional theater in Montgomery,” said ASF Executive Director Todd Schmidt. “We look forward to seeing our wonderful audience again at ASF and will be taking every precaution to ensure their safety.”
Subscriptions are on sale now at ASF.net or by calling the ASF Box Office at 334-271-5353. Single tickets will go on sale on August 23 for “Shoebox Picnic Roadside” and for all other season productions on September 15.
SEASON 50 PRODUCTIONS
Shoebox Picnic Road Side: Route One*: Sep. 16–26, 2021
Written by Deneen Reynolds-Knott
In 1955, a Black family travels by caravan on Route One from Harlem to visit their matriarch in Littleton, North Carolina. Knowing they were unlikely to be served by eateries along the way, the family prepared a feast placed in shoeboxes lined with tin foil. They’ve pulled over to picnic on the road’s shoulder. This is your invitation to join them, hear the stories of the food in their picnic, and enjoy some classic Southern cuisine.
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: Dec. 3–24, 2021
Adapted by Greta Lambert
ASF favorite Greta Lambert is a one-woman tour de force as she takes on more than a dozen roles to bring this beloved holiday classic to life. You’ll be mesmerized as Greta brings this beloved and heartwarming holiday classic to life and transports you back to a magical evening in Victorian England to enjoy the story of Ebenezer Scrooge and his encounters with Jacob Marley and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella: Nov. 27, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
Music by Richard Rodgers | Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II
New Book by Douglas Carter Beane | Original Book by Oscar Hammerstein II
Rodgers + Hammerstein’s Cinderella is the Tony Award-winning musical from the creators of South Pacific and The Sound of Music that delights audiences with its surprisingly contemporary take on the classic tale. A hilarious and romantic experience for anyone who has ever had a dream.
Macbeth: Feb. 3–24, 2022
By William Shakespeare
Dunsinane’s power couple embarks on a blind ambition tour of betrayal and bloodletting when Scottish nobleman Macbeth is told by witches that he will become king one day. This supernatural battle between fate and will is one of the Bard’s most action-packed tragedies.
Little Shop Of Horrors: Mar. 3–Apr. 3, 2022
Music by Alan Menken | Lyrics and a Book by Howard Ashman
In this deviously delicious sci-fi rock musical, meek floral assistant Seymour Krelborn stumbles across a new breed of plant he names “Audrey II” (after his coworker crush). This foul-mouthed, R&B-singing carnivorous plant promises unending fame and fortune to the down-and-out Seymore as long as he keeps feeding it … . From the Tony and Oscar award-winning creators of Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and The Little Mermaid.
Freedom Rider*: Apr. 8–24, 2022
Written by Ricardo Khan in collaboration with Kathleen McGhee-Anderson, Murray Horwitz, Nathan Louis Jackson, and Nikkole Salter
In May 1961, four young students join others aboard a southbound bus in Washington, DC, to challenge segregated spaces in interstate travel. They ended up changing themselves and the nation forever. Inspired by real events, this powerful play — sometimes funny and ultimately uplifting — celebrates the heroic and watershed journey of these young people.
Until the Flood: Apr. 14–May 1, 2022
Written by Dael Orlandersmith
Pulitzer Prize finalist Dael Orlandersmith explores the social uprising in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of teenager Michael Brown. Pulling from her extensive interviews with Missouri residents, Orlandersmith crafts a stunning theatrical experience that must be seen. The Chicago Tribune called it “palpably compassionate” and raved that it “achieves a great beauty by bringing us together rather than driving us apart.”
Marvelous Wonderettes: May 24–Jun. 26, 2022
Written & Created by Roger Bean
This smash Off-Broadway hit takes us to the 1958 Springfield High School prom, where we meet and learn about the lives and loves of Betty Jean, Cindy Lou, Missy, and Suzy: four girls with hopes and dreams as big as their crinoline skirts. When the Wonderettes reunite to perform at their 10-year reunion, we learn about the highs and lows the girls have experienced in the past decade and are charmed to find that no matter what life throws their way, they will conquer it together. Featuring more than 30 classic 50s and 60s hits, including “Lollipop,” “Dream Lover,” and “Lipstick on Your Collar.”
American Mariachi: Jul. 27–Aug. 21, 2022
Written by José Cruz González
Family, tradition, progress, and the freedom to dream big are at the center of this hilarious and big-hearted musical. Lucha spends her days caring for her ailing mother. Yearning to break free from her life’s monotony, she comes up with a wild idea: an all-girl mariachi band. But it’s the 1970s, and girls can’t be mariachis … or can they? Follow Lucha and her spunky cousin as they hunt for bandmates, dodge disapproving relatives, and bring Mom along for the ride. Will the band come together?