Whimsy, grit and societal rebellion featured in CLTPs' 2023-2024 season

May 6—Whatever it is that local theater fans are looking for, they'll likely find it in Cheyenne Little Theatre Players' 2023-24 season of shows.

The local community theater certainly didn't shy away from prominent intellectual property this time around. Residents can expect renditions of genre-defining material from legendary creatives like screen actor Gene Wilder, author Ray Bradbury and musical actress Carol Channing.

This season will also feature some performers that have recently joined the ranks of CLTP, as well as longtime actors that are stepping up for their directing debut. Rest assured, the variety of genres offered next season are not just enjoyable for all the audience, but timely and refreshing in theme.

"We did a really great job striking a balance between providing education and community enrichment," managing director Ceara Madson said. "We've got some pieces that I know our actors and directors really want to do, but I think that our community will definitely enjoy, as well.

"We've got just a great mix of productions between drama and comedy. We've got plays with whimsy, plays with grit, and did a great job of (including) a couple of newer works and some classic stories."

Yes, there's something for everyone. If it's any indication of how dynamic this season will be, it's in the potential of the first three shows. The latter half just seals the deal.

Young Frankenstein

Originally released on screen in 1974, this cult-classic comedy from Mel Brooks spoofs the horror films of the 1950s and 1960s. The story follows Dr. Fredrick Frankenstein ("it's pronounced 'Fronkensteen'"), son of the infamous Dr. Victor Frankenstein, as he returns to his father's castle to carry on his experiments.

It's a tough act to follow Gene Wilder in the lead role, especially when he was surrounded by other stellar comedians, but CLTP is up to the task. This variation of the production was adapted into a stage musical by Brooks himself, and should be a chance for fans to see the satirical story in a new light.

Fahrenheit 451

In a modern world where the conversation around banning books has been rekindled, CLTP dares to bring this famous — and, in some regard, infamous — book to the stage at Mary Godfrey Playhouse.

This specific script was also adapted by its original creator, the revolutionary (and that may be an understatement) award-winning novelist Ray Bradbury. Considering that the book is required reading in American public schools, and that it continues to be challenged to this day, many are likely familiar with the story.

In brief, Guy Montag is a veteran firefighter in a dystopian society where his primary responsibility is to burn books that contradict their society's ideals, but "lately he has become increasingly unsure about what he is doing and about his vegetable-like existence," the CLTP summary reads. It's one that Madson is particularly excited for.

A Christmas Story

Yes, that "A Christmas Story."

It's hard to imagine a safer choice for a community Christmas production, and that isn't a bad thing. Since its release in 1983, "A Christmas Story" has stood the test of time as the warm nostalgia blanket of families lounging around during the Christmas season.

All of the beloved moments — the Red Ryder BB gun, Scut Farkas, the "major award" — will be adapted to fit the story of 9-year-old Ralphie Parker on the community theater stage. The Historic Atlas Theatre, with dinner theatre options available, is no better place to do it.

Dorothy in Wonderland

Next season's children's production is a melding of two beloved fantasies — "Alice in Wonderland" and "The Wizard of Oz."

How exactly do these two stories fit together? The stage play's synopsis explains it best.

"Dorothy Gale has made her way to the end of the Yellow Brick Road, and the wonderful Wizard of Oz is just about to help her get back home to Kansas. But before she can hop into the wizard's balloon, another whirlwind appears over the Emerald City, sweeping Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion away to Wonderland. Equipped with their new assets — brains, heart and courage — Dorothy's friends try to help her find her way home, meeting many other interesting characters along the way."

While it won't be in Technicolor, the production is sure to be vibrant with the talent of Cheyenne's performing youth.

Bloody Murder

Every season has a whodunnit — you either adore it or despise it.

If your feelings align with the latter group, then I have some good news — the characters of "Bloody Murder" are right there with you.

Madson wouldn't give much away about this production, and neither does the play's synopsis, and maybe that's a good thing. Everything in this story will seem a bit too formulaic, and that's because it is. Ironically, that's exactly where the twist lies, setting it apart from any other murder mysteries in the process.

Both fans and foes of the genre will hopefully find something worthwhile in "Bloody Murder."

Hello, Dolly!

For years now, CLTP has managed to conclude each season with a showstopper. Next season, they're placing that responsibility on an adaptation of the prolific Tony award-winning musical "Hello, Dolly!"

Considering the show is more than a year away, little about the production is set in stone. The story follows the enthusiastic Dolly Gallagher Levi, who provides services as a "matchmaker." Originally played by theater legend Carol Channing, the plot shows Dolly traveling to Yonkers, New York, to help find a wife for a millionaire Horace Vandergelder.

Will Carpenter is the Wyoming Tribune Eagle's Arts and Entertainment/Features Reporter. He can be reached by email at wcarpenter@wyomingnews.com or by phone at 307-633-3135. Follow him on Twitter @will_carp_.