Season Preview: A look at ALT Academy and AC Conservatory Theatre's 2017-18 seasons

Posted by Chip Chandler on

By Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

An expanded schedule and a visit from a Broadway star are among the highlights of the upcoming season for two children's theater groups.

Amarillo College Conservatory Theatre will kick off its season by welcoming Chuck Wagner — known for his stints in Les MiserablesInto the WoodsJekyll & Hyde and Beauty and the Beast — for a Sept. 17 fundraiser.

Wagner came to Amarillo in 2012 and 2014 for Broadway revues by producer Neil Berg for Civic Amarillo's Broadway Spotlight Series. During his time here in 2014, he did a workshop for ACCT.

"We connected then, and I just adore him," ACCT instructor Jayme McBride said. "I just absolute adore him."

Wagner will do a workshop with ACCT students Sept. 16 and 17, then perform at a fundraiser concert at 7 p.m. Sept. 17 in Ordway Auditorium on AC's Washington Street campus. Tickets are $25.

ACCT's season itself will include two popular plays.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever will be staged at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17 and 18 and 2:30 p.m. Nov. 19 in Ordway Auditorium.

The play, to be directed by ACCT founder Linda Hughes, is an adaptation of Barbara Robinson's perennially popular holiday tale about the Herdman siblings, the so-called "worst kids in the history of the world," and their unexpected involvement in their school Christmas play.

McBride will direct William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, which finds humans and fairies having humorous and slightly treacherous encounters in the woods. It will be staged at 7:30 p.m. March 2 and 3 and 2:30 p.m. March 4.

"Our older actors are at a point where they are completely capable of doing Shakespeare," McBride said. "I wasn't sure how else I could challenge them."

ACCT doesn't offer season ticket packages; admission to each show is $12. Call 806-371-2921.

Amarillo Little Theatre Academy will celebrate its 25th anniversary by expanding its typical three-show season to four, adding a summer musical to the mix.

The season opens Oct. 27 to Nov. 5 on the ALT Mainstage, 2019 Civic Circle, with Seussical the Musical, a celebration of the works of Dr. Seuss last staged by the academy 10 seasons ago in the first collaboration between director Jason Crespin (who was assistant director to McBride on the show) and music director Brandon Bellar.

Up next is Mr. Popper's Penguins, a stage adaptation of the 1938 book by Richard and Florence Atwater about a man who unexpectedly gets a male penguin delivered to him, followed by a female from the zoo, which leads naturally to baby penguins. It was adapted into a 2011 movie starring Jim Carrey. The play will be staged Jan. 5 to 7 in the Adventure Space, 2751 Civic Circle.

"It's a great, fun story with great things about the family," Crespin said. 

Then, the academy will stage Annie, the hugely popular musical about a little orphan girl, her rich and reluctant adoptive father and the scheming orphanage director who threatens their happiness. It'll be staged March 23 to April 1 in the Mainstage.

"We knew this would be a great show for our girls ... who we haven't really highlighted in the past couple of seasons," Crespin said.

And finally, for the first time, the academy will produce a fourth show, the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical Into the Woods, set for July 12 to 22 in the Adventure Space. It's an intimate production of the popular deconstruction of fairy tales, starring five young men and five young women.

The show wouldn't necessarily fit in the academy's regular season because, with its adult themes, it's not something the theater would stage for school audiences as it does all of its regular shows, Crespin said.

It will open a week after ACCT's traditional summer youth musical, which has yet to be announced but will be staged July 6 to 8, Hughes said.

"Oh yeah, I'm definitely doing one. We haven't chosen it yet ... but nothing's going to stop me," Hughes said.

Crespin said he wanted an intimate show that wouldn't be direct competition to the AC musical, which is typically a much larger production.

Academy tickets are $18 for ages 12 and older and $15 for ages 11 and younger for musicals, and $12 and $10 for plays. ALT season tickets can be used for academy productions, as well.

Call 806-355-9991.







Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and on Facebook.

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