• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

‘Big Fish’ opens Woodford Theatre’s 30th season


Woodford Theatre will open its 30th birthday celebration season with the musical “Big Fish” during the first three weekends of October. Audiences will join a son on a journey to discover the truths behind his father’s larger-than-life stories in this musical based on a novel written by Daniel Wallace and an acclaimed film directed by Tim Burton. Fantastical elements and music – not in the movie – keep “Big Fish” moving along as audiences explore the relationship of traveling salesman Edward Bloom and his son, Will, said Trish Clark, Woodford Theatre’s artistic director. In December, “An Appalachian Christmas Carol” will give Clark a chance to make her directorial debut at Woodford Theatre. This play re-imagines a much-beloved classic written by Dickens – a story of redemption that didn’t resonate with Clark as a child. This story, which honors the heritage of coal mining in Appalachia and celebrates the true spirit of the holiday season, has consumed Clark. So with the help of Kentucky historians and additional research over the past several weeks, she sets this story of redemption in Pike County, Ky. “Because of the language and the way (this story) is told,” said Clark, “I think it will ring truer to our audience than any British, Dickens story.” Former artistic director Beth Kirchner will return to Woodford Theatre to direct “Enchanted April,” in February. Clark said she contacted her predecessor about directing “Noises Off,” which Kirchner had directed in 2008 for Woodford County Theatrical Arts Association (renamed Woodford Theatre in 2009). Instead, Kirchner chose to direct a period drama centered on two frustrated London housewives taking a holiday away from their bleak marriages. “I’m always excited to bring Beth back,” said Clark. In late-March and the first weekend of April, Todd Pickett, who designed the set for the 2008 production of “Noises Off,” returns to his backstage role for this farce about a cast of actors rehearsing an onstage flop, which Kirchner described as “the hardest play I have ever done, and the most fun,” nearly a decade ago. As a bookend to its 2017-18 season, Woodford Theatre will close with “Smokey Joe’s Café,” beginning May 18. “This one is not so much a story as it is a celebration of a decade of music and styles,” said Clark. She described this musical review of the pop standards from the 1950s as a mainstay on the Broadway stage for many, many years. As an added bonus, regular patrons of the Woodford Theatre will experience a larger stage during the 2017-18 season. An extension of the stage will provide additional space for musicals and more intimacy by bringing audiences closer to a performance, Clark said. Woodford Theatre’s creative team had been discussing this change, which she described as very exciting, for awhile. Another change has occurred backstage. A large room previously used for storage has been converted into a usable space. A dance floor and mirrors has created “a wonderful room for rehearsals and for classes,” Clark said. With community support in the coming years, she said an expansion of the 17-year-old Woodford Theatre facilities could include a black box performance space for younger thespians to work on their stagecraft. “We just have so many people whose kids want to perform. It’s unbelievable,” said Clark. For performance dates and tickets for the 2017-18 season, visit woodfordtheatre.com or call 873-0648.

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