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Friday, Dec. 28, 2012

Directors prepare for next Theatre in the Park season

Special to The Star

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Three local theater professionals and two who are returning to the area they once called home will lead next summer’s productions at The Theatre in the Park.

Kevin Bogan couldn’t be more pleased about directing “Children of Eden,” the 2013 season opener at The Theatre in the Park.

“I love that show. I sleep and breathe it,” said Bogan, director of traditional/blended worship arts at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood.

“This will be the third time I’ve directed “Children of Eden. Obviously it’s a favorite,” Bogan said. “It will be the first show I’ve directed at The Theatre in the Park and it’s also the first time ‘Children of Eden’ has been produced there.”

Bogan moved to this area in 2004 to take his present position at the Church of the Resurrection after 12 years in Florida, where he was director of the Ft. Lauderdale Players. Among the productions he directed with the Players were “Grease,” “A Little Night Music” and “Merrily We Roll Along.” His other credits include “Annie Get Your Gun,” “The Music Man” and “She Loves Me.” He also was stage director for the Kansas City Symphony’s production of “The Music Man.”

“We’ll have a chorus of 100-plus chosen from area choirs and choruses and a cast of 40 ranging in age from 5 on up in ‘Children of Eden,’ ” Bogan said. “We’ll take over the entire audience area, something that hasn’t been done before.”

“Children of Eden,” based on the story of Genesis, runs June 7-9 and 13-15.

Greg Shaw will direct his 10th show at The Theatre in the Park with “9 to 5, the Musical” based on the 1980s movie. It’s the first time The Theatre has produced the show, which will run June 21-23 and 27-29.

“It’s a fun show...” Shaw said. “The music has a country-western flair, pop country, along with a clever story line.”

Shaw grew up in Gardner and now lives in Pittsburg, Kan., where he teaches speech and theater at Pittsburg High School.

David Hastings, who has directed “Gypsy,” “Les Miserables” and last year “Urinetown” at The Theatre in the Park will direct “Peter Pan,” July 5-7 and 11-13.

Hastings, a drama teacher at Olathe South High School, had planned to take the summer off until Tim Bair, producing artistic director at The Theatre in The Park, asked if he was interested in directing the show next summer with a cast ranging from 6-year-olds to adults.

“It was an offer I couldn’t refuse,” Hastings said with a laugh. “I love that show. I’m really excited about doing it. It’s such a great family show.”

Chris McCoy, a graduate of Shawnee Mission South, is back home in Overland Park this summer and will direct “Damn Yankees,” July 19-21 and 25-27. He currently lives in Davis, Calif., where he is working on a Ph.D. in performance studies at the University of California.

“I get home as often as possible, especially in the summer,” McCoy said. “I like it here and I like to keep my hand in the local theater pool. People outside the area don’t realize what a really vibrant theater group is here.”

McCoy has been associated with the Seattle Children’s Theatre, Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre and the Denver Center Theatre Co. He’s also spent time at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and the San Diego Opera, and has been artistic director for the Kansas City Festival of New Musicals.

“One of these days I’m going to settle down someplace,” he said.

“Hairspray,” jointly produced by the Jewish Community Center and The Theatre in the Park, will be directed by Mark Swezey, director of theater at Jewish Community Center. The show will bring down the curtain on The Theatre in the Park’s 2013 season. The two organizations will share the expense of sets, costumes and props and will use the same cast. “Hairspray” will run July 13-28 in at the Jewish Community Center then move to The Theatre in the Park Aug. 2-10.

Swezey, director of theater at Shawnee Mission South for 25 years, has directed 18 productions at The Theatre, including “Sweeney Todd” last year.

“I’m thrilled that this group of extremely talented directors will be joining us for our 2013 season,” Bair said. “I’m looking forward to the artistic contribution these directors will bring to our stage.”

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