Circa ’21 Includes “Beauty and the Beast,” “White Christmas” and “Disaster!” in 45th Season
The past 17 months have kind of been a disaster around the world. In the land of Quad-Cities musical theater, “Disaster!” will continue into 2022, as both Quad City Music Guild and Circa ’21 Dinner Playhouse plan to stage a ‘70s-themed jukebox musical comedy of that name within three months of each other.
In early July, the Moline community theater announced that “Disaster!” would kick off its 2022 season in April, and on Monday, the professional Rock Island dinner theater announced that the silly show would run there July 20-Sept. 10, 2022.
Earthquakes, tidal waves, infernos and the unforgettable songs of the 1970s take center stage in Broadway’s side-splitting homage to classic disaster films in the Irwin Allen mode, Circa announced in its release. Return to the era of bell bottoms, platform shoes and “The Hustle” when a crazy cast of character boards a floating casino/disco. What begins as a night of boogie fever quickly changes to panic as everyone struggles to survive multiple outrageous disasters … and a few killer rats. With its snappy dialogue and songs such as “Hooked on a Feeling,” “Hot
Stuff” and “I Will Survive,” this stage riot will have you dancing in your seat and rolling in the aisles.
The plot follows a group of New Yorkers that attends the opening of a floating casino and discothèque that quickly succumbs to multiple disasters. These calamities correlate with plots of various disaster films of the 1970s, such as earthquakes or killer bee incidents.
“Disaster!” was created by Seth Rudetsky, and written by Seth Rudetsky and Jack Plotnick, debuting in January 2012. The show opened on Broadway at the Nederlander Theatre on March 8, 2016, with previews beginning on February 9, 2016. The show starred Rudetsky, along with Roger Bart, Kerry Butler, Kevin Chamberlin, Adam Pascal, Faith Prince, Rachel York, Max Crumm and Jennifer Simard. Baylee Littrell (son of Brian Littrell) and Lacretta Nicole made their Broadway debuts. The show closed on May 8, 2016, after playing 32 previews and 72
Brett Hitchcock, Circa’s director of audience development, said Tuesday that the licensing company for “Disaster!” granted the rights to Music Guild as Circa was negotiating with them, and after Guild got the rights, Circa decided to proceed anyway.
“Their production is only a couple weekends long, before ours, and hopefully people will see it, and there will be name recognition in the market, hopefully it will still work and benefit us,” he said. The ‘70s theme should be popular with audiences, as this summer’s “Saturday Night Fever” musical as shown.
“The response to the show has been amazing across the board,” Hitchcock said. “People are singing and dancing and having a good time. That’s part of what went into coming up with that show to begin with, and we thought ‘Disaster!’ and that music would resonate with a lot of people.”
At Circa, it will be among three 2022 shows making their Circa debuts for the 45th season beginning next March, including a Tony Award-winning Broadway smash and the return of a beloved holiday favorite.
Circa ’21’s 45th-anniversary season begins with the Midwestern premiere of a tasty theatrical treat: “Just Desserts” (March 16 through May 14, 2022, rated PG). It’s sweet, It’s savory. It’s five strangers putting their hearts, reputations and baking skills on the line to become the crème de la crème of bakers at a county fair. In this madcap comedy, the heat is on to create three different types of desserts during the
finals. There’s a little mystery, a little romance, some potential cheating, and some backstabbing – exactly what you’d expect when the competition is this fierce – and the results prove deliciously satisfying for all.
Rock Island’s dinner theater will follow this entertainment with an eagerly awaited titled originally scheduled for last season that’s finally being brought to life in grand theatrical manner: “Disney’s Beauty & The Beast” (May 18 through July 16, 2022, rated PG). In this Tony Award winner based on the Oscar-winning animated smash, audiences are invited to step into the enchanted world of Broadway’s modern classic – the story of Belle, a young woman in a provincial town, and the Beast, a young prince trapped under the spell of an enchantress. With amazing music by Oscar and Tony winner Alan Menken, this “tale as old as time” was last staged by Music Guild in summer 2019.
After “Disaster!”, more laughs, and interactive ones, will be heard at Circa ’21 with the hotly anticipated “Clue: The Musical” (Sept. 14 through Nov. 5, 2022, rated PG), which was done at Moline’s Black Box Theatre in 2018. The internationally popular board game is now a fun-filled musical that brings the world’s best-known suspects to life and invites the audience to help solve the mystery. Will the solution involve Miss Scarlet in the kitchen with a candlestick? Or maybe Professor Plum in the study with a knife?
Theatre patrons receive forms to help them deduce the solution from clues given throughout this hilarious evening, with comic antics, witty lyrics, and a beguiling score carrying the investigation from room to room with 216 possible solutions.
And Circa ’21 wraps up its 45th season with the return of a magical musical hit: “Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” (Nov. 9 through Dec. 30, 2022, rated G), which was last done at Circa in late 2014. Based on the Golden Age film classic starring Bing Crosby, the show’s World War II
veterans Bob and Phil have become partners in a song-and-dance act after the war. Looking for love, they follow a duo of beautiful singing and dancing sisters to a big at a Vermont lodge, only to discover that the nearly bankrupt venue is owned by their former commanding general. Berlin’s adored holiday movie is brought to life onstage in a show filled with dancing, laughter and some of the greatest songs ever written.
Circa ’21 productions are performed on Wednesdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, plus Wednesday matinées. Each performance is also preceded by a 15-minute musical revue with the Circa ’21 Bootleggers, one of only two performing wait staffs in the entire country.
The last show in the current 44th season will be the rescheduled comedy, “The Play That Goes Wrong,” Jan. 12-March 12, 2022.
Season subscriptions for the 45th season – available in Gold, Silver, Bronze, Student, and the all-access Diamond Pass variations – are also available, and can, as with individual tickets, be purchased through the Circa ’21 ticket office at 1828 3rd Ave., Rock Island, or by calling 309-786-7733 ext. 2. For more information, visit www.circa21.com.