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Spokane Civic Theatre’s 2022 season includes ‘Funny Girl,’ ‘Murder on the Orient Express’

UPDATED: Thu., Nov. 4, 2021

Returning to the stage with “laughs, mystery and drama,” Spokane Civic Theatre’s 2022 season program is a lighthearted homage to the season that wasn’t. On Jan. 28, the Civic will reopen its doors to the public for the first time since March 2020.

“The goal was to try to reconcile as many of those shows as we could … honor what we had already committed to” while also emphasizing the comedy factor, creative director Jake Schaefer said. “I feel like after two years of uncertainty, that’s one thing that we know we can do well … bring people into our house and make them laugh.”

Shows from the original program like “The Little Mermaid” and “Spamalot” were deemed too large cast-wise to accommodate state health guidelines. But it didn’t take long to find replacements.

The season begins with the regional premiere of “The Play That Goes Wrong” by Henry Lewis, Henry Shields and Jonathan Sayer. This Olivier Award-winning comedy follows a group of actors from the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society as they attempt, with varying degrees of success, to mount a production of “The Murder at Haversham Manor.”

With performances scheduled from Jan. 28-Feb. 20, Civic will hold in-person auditions for “The Play That Goes Wrong” from Nov. 14-17. To sign up for an audition slot, visit spokanecivictheatre.com/audition.

Next up, Schaefer chose “Funny Girl,” a show that could be “authentically Civic.”

Based on the life of Broadway actress Fanny Brice, “Funny Girl” follows the rise and fall of an aspiring young performer in the world of show business. With music by Jule Styne, lyrics by Bob Merrill and book by Isobel Lennart, “Funny Girl” features hit Broadway songs like “People” and “Don’t Rain on My Parade.”

“Civic has done big traditional classic musicals for 100 years, and ‘Funny Girl’ fits all the boxes,” Schaefer said. “Not to mention, it’s got a beautiful score. It’s a story that I believe Civic should tell … one that shows a female character that isn’t just strong. She’s also smart.”

“Funny Girl” will be on the Margot and Robert Ogden Main Stage from March 25-April 24.

Last on the mainstage, Civic will mount a production of “Murder on the Orient Express” by Ken Ludwig, adapted from Agatha Christie’s classic mystery novel.

“Murder on the Orient Express” will run from May 27-June 19.

Between mainstage performances, Civic will present a series of smaller-scale shows in the Firth J. Chew Studio Theatre, including Neil Simon’s “Plaza Suite” from Feb. 11-March 6 and “The Lifespan of a Fact” from May 6-29. Lastly, the 32nd Playwrights’ Forum Festival will run from June 16-19.

“It’s one of Civic’s mainstays,” Schaefer said. The regionwide festival calls on writers across the Northwest to submit manuscripts for the chance to have their work performed onstage.

With “throngs of texts and emails and calls” of encouragement continuing to fly in from performers and members of the community, Schaefer knows he’s not alone in his anticipation of Civic’s long-awaited reopening.

“I was pretty speechless all weekend,” Schaefer said, referring to the encouragement he felt after a recent Civic Academy performance at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture. “This is why we’re doing it.”

Tickets – sold individually or in pods of 2-4 – go on sale Dec. 1. Season ticket packages go on sale Nov. 16. For more information, visit spokanecivictheatre.com/welcomeback or call the box office at (509) 325-2507.

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