The people who run the live theater companies in southern New Jersey love patrons who like to make plans ahead of schedule.
While January hasn't even come to a close yet, some local theater companies already have put tickets on sale through subscription purchase for shows taking place at the start of next winter.
Roy Steinberg, Cape May Stage's artistic director, said this is a landmark, 25th anniversary season for the company, and it has chosen plays that resonate in the community, state and country. It makes no difference what anyone else is doing. This year's productions will include "Lend Me a Tenor," "Boeing Boeing" and "Freud's Last Session."
"I know what we are doing in 2013. I have an idea of what we will be doing in 2014," Steinberg said.
If not for Hurricane Sandy, the original teaser for the Surflight Theatre subscribers would have gone out at the end of November, right after Thanksgiving, so theater tickets could be a part of holiday gift giving, said Ken Myers, artistic director of Surflight Theatre in Beach Haven, Long Beach Island.
When programming a theater season, Myers said he looks at what patrons liked in the past, but also what relevance a production has in today's marketplace.
The Surflight season starts off in May with a small mystery, "Sleuth." Other offerings include the musical "South Pacific" in July and Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" in December, and a production of "Our Town" in September and October, which will combine a completely local cast with a professional director and staff.
Surflight's biggest booking coup is being one of the few small theaters to offer "Les Miserables" in August. It is hoped the attention the movie receives from this year's Academy Award campaign will cause people to want to see the show live. The musical closed on Broadway in January 2008 and favors were called in on friends to bring the production to Surflight, Myers said.
The Off Broad Street Players Theatre Company, which is in Bridgeton, but performs at the Levoy Theatre in Mill-ville, usually announces its shows at the end of June or July for the following year. This year, it will offer shows that include "Damn Yankees," "Godspell" and "Biloxi Blues."
"I think there is always the mentality if we can announce a show first, hopefully, if there is another theater company planning to do the same show as us. Maybe, they will think about changing it, or not doing it on the same weekend," said Jason D. Smith, the theater's public relations director.
At the Eagle Theatre in Hammonton, they also typically announce the following year's season at the end of June or beginning of July, said Ed Corsi, the co-artistic director. It gives the theater six months to sell season subscriptions for it.
This year, the Eagle Theatre offerings include "A Chorus Line," "Hair," "Smokey Joe's Cafe," "Lombardi" and "Little Shop of Horrors."
"Actors are competitive beasts. If we are going after professional actors, we want to be able to hold our auditions very early and lock them up," Corsi said.
Contact Vincent Jackson:
For the schedules of local theater companies, see E4
More information about this year's season can be found by contacting the individual companies:
capemaystage.com or 609-884-1341
surflight.org or 609-492-9477
obsp.org or 856-451-5437
theeagletheatre.com or 609-704-5012