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Saturday, October 31, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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From ‘Frankenstein’ to ‘Millie,’ stage is packed with promise

Coming alive on a stage near you: Frankenstein, the Chairman of the Board, a Killer Rabbit and a certain pair of Gothic governesses.

This fall’s theater scene will bring these iconic figures to life – along with Igor and the Andrews Sisters.

Here’s what we can look forward to from the Inland Northwest’s stage institutions:

The Best of Broadway Series – Frank Sinatra has gone to that great Vegas lounge in the sky, but his music lives on in “Come Fly Away,” the Broadway musical revue that arrives at the INB Performing Arts Center Nov. 17-21.

It’s not a Sinatra impersonation act, but it features his songs as interpreted by a troupe of singers and dancers, directed and choreographed by the legendary Twyla Tharp.

After that, Igor enters, stage left. Mel Brooks’ Broadway musical version of “Young Frankenstein” arrives at the INB, Dec. 15-18. This is a musical version of Brooks’ classic film comedy, following in the footsteps of “The Producers.”

Three other add-on shows are also on the schedule: the solo comedy play “Defending the Caveman,” on Oct. 8; the hysterical Monty Python musical “Spamalot,” Nov. 11 (that’s where you’ll see the notorious Killer Rabbit); and the blues-comedy show “The Blues Brothers Revue,” Nov. 13.

We’ll have to wait until winter and spring for the rest of the subscription series: “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” Jan. 26-29; “In the Heights,” April 12-15; and “Mary Poppins,” June 12-17.

Spokane Civic Theatre – This is where you’ll find both of the aforementioned Gothic governesses, one from the pen of Henry James, the other from the pen of Charlotte Bronte.

But first, we’ll meet a vivacious ’20s flapper in the musical “Thoroughly Modern Millie” on the Main Stage, Sept. 23-Oct. 23.

You might remember Millie Dillmount from the 1967 movie. This is the musical version of her story, which became a 2002 Broadway hit. Expect a lot of toe-tapping songs and some big tap numbers. Kathie Doyle-Lipe and Greg Pschirrer direct.

That will be followed on the Main Stage by a new version of “A Christmas Carol,” Nov. 18-Dec. 18. You’ll see all of the great Dickens characters – and a few puppets, as well. Troy Nickerson directs.

Over in the Firth J. Chew Studio Theatre, Henry James’ literary ghost story “The Turn of the Screw” runs Oct. 21-Nov. 13. It has a two-person cast, with one actress playing the governess and another playing all of the other roles. Susan Hardie directs.

We’ll meet the other governess in the Civic’s annual musical-in-concert fundraiser, “Jane Eyre,” Oct. 28-29 on the Main Stage. This is the Paul Gordon musical that arrived on Broadway in 2000. Yvonne A.K. Johnson directs.

Overall, the Civic has been on an upswing in terms of both audience and quality. Johnson said season ticket sales exceed last year’s record pace.

Interplayers Professional Theatre – Artistic director Reed McColm said he is “optimistic and encouraged” about the coming season, which includes some new titles and some well-loved familiar ones.

One of the familiar ones is “The Boys Next Door,” by Tom Griffin, the funny and touching story of several developmentally disabled adults in a group home, Sept. 22-Oct. 9.

It has been seen in a 1996 TV special with Nathan Lane and has been a hit on other Spokane stages. Troy Nickerson directs.

That will be followed by an intriguing new dramedy, “The Receptionist,” by Adam Bock, Oct. 27-Nov. 12.

At the beginning of the play, we see a typical office reception desk and a routine workday. Suddenly, the audience discovers what kind of office it really is. Maria Caprile directs.

Then Interplayers swings into its sole musical of the season, “Sisters of Swing: The Story of the Andrews Sisters,” Dec. 1-Dec. 17. It tells the story of the famous vocal trio and will include all of their tuneful hits. Abbey Crawford directs.

Meanwhile, Spokane’s longtime professional theater continues to evolve. Longtime board president Jim McCurdy left this summer to take a faculty job at the University of San Diego School of Law. A largely new board is now in place.

The area’s theater scene also includes a resurgent Lake City Playhouse in Coeur d’Alene, the Ignite! Community Theatre and some fine theater from our area’s universities and community colleges.

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