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Theatre Sarnia announces 2022-2023 season

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Subscriptions are now on sale for what’s expected to be Theatre Sarnia’s first full season since the pandemic began.

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The four productions in what will be the community theatre group’s 96th season include two musicals and two plays being staged at the Imperial Theatre between September and May.

That follows a period when public-health restrictions closed the downtown theatre to in-person audiences. Theatre organizers then staged summer concerts on the sidewalk outside the theatre, filmed a Christmas show for livestreaming and staged cabarets soon after public-health restrictions were first eased.

A production of the comedy Fox on the Fairway that had originally been scheduled for spring 2020 was performed earlier this year while the musical, Something Rotten, runs May 20 to 28, followed by Neil Simon’s Barefoot in The Park from June 23 to 26.

“We got together what we could for this brief season but we’re excited to have a full offering for next year,” said Brian Austin Jr., the theatre’s executive director.

The upcoming season includes War Of The Worlds: The Panic Broadcast in September, Disney’s Beauty and the Beast in November, Clue: On Stage in January 2023 and Tarzan The Stage Musical, based on the popular Disney film, in May 2023.

Members of the group have been excited to get back into the theatre, Austin Jr. said.

“I think a lot of creative people have been just chomping at the bit for opportunities,” he said. “We’re all ready to go and bring some entertainment back to the city.”

War of the Worlds: The Panic Broadcast is about the Orson Welles’s 1938 radio show that caused alarm when listeners believed he was reporting an actual invasion from space.

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The play includes a Foley sound table on stage so the audience can see how the sound effects are made, said Austin Jr.

“I’m thrilled to be doing Beauty and Beast,” he said. “The music is beautiful. The sets are going to be grand and the costumes are magical.”

Clue: On Stage is a “hilarious murder mystery” with a set that includes “all the iconic locations from the board game,” said Austin Jr.

“For Tarzan, we have some really grand ideas about how to transform the auditorium into a jungle and have Tarzan swinging all over the stage,” he said.

Buying a subscription for the season costs less than buying tickets for all of the individual shows, plus the group is offering a deal that can add tickets for Something Rotten and Barefoot in the Park to the coming season’s four productions at a reduced price, the theatre said.

Subscriptions went on sale Friday. Information is available by contacting the Imperial Theatre box office at 519-344-7469 ot online at Tickets for individual shows will be available June 30.

Initial response to the return to live shows has been different, depending on audience age, said Austin Jr.

Those ages 30 to 55 have been filling seats at the theatre’s shows, “but some of our older patrons are being a little more cautious, which is understandable,” he said.

Austin Jr. said he was encouraged to see case numbers have been trending down recently.

“The same as always, we’ll have to see what comes and then react accordingly,” he said.

Even with the challenges of pandemic restrictions, the group is “still going strong after 96 years,” and it’s looking ahead to its upcoming centennial season, said Austin Jr.

“We’re going to make the 100th very special.”

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