On Stage

Sun and Show-Stoppers

The curtain rises on another season at Theatre By The Sea


For yet another summer, the Great White Way will stretch to the Ocean State, as Theatre By The Sea kicks off its 2018 summer season. Just a quahog shell’s throw from the beach, TBTS welcomes audiences to take in top-notch performances, enjoy a bite to eat at Bistro by the Sea, and have a drink at the outdoor bar. And as the theater enters its 85th year, owner Bill Hanney and company are showing no signs of slowing down.

“We do things we know people are going to like,” says Hanney, who has owned the theater since 2007 and oversees production.

“We had a great turnout last year, and we’re at an all-time high for subscribers. The shows speak for themselves.”

The season began with the Harlem Renaissance revue Ain’t Misbehavin’, which runs through June 17, then shifts to Greece for the romantic, dance-inducing Mamma Mia! (June 20-July 21) The family-friendly classic, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (July 25-August 12) will follow, and the season will wrap up with the criminally captivating Chicago (August 15-September 9). “We’re leaps and bounds above last year,” says Hanney of this summer’s productions. “We have four blockbusters; I don’t expect this type of season every year.”

TBTS always makes room for Rhode Island’s youngest patrons of the arts, and this summer’s 2018 Children’s Festival is no different. The schedule includes performances of Sleeping Beauty, Willy Wonka Jr., and Pinocchio, as well as comedic juggling duo The Airborne Comedians and Keith Michael Johnson’s Bubbleology on Friday mornings throughout the summer. 

New to this season is the Monday Night Concerts and Events series, and the lineup is stacked. Broadway stars will grace the stage for A Broadway Celebration (July 9), and the dynamic Rita McKenzie will celebrate Broadway’s Golden Age in her acclaimed solo concert Ethel Merman’s Broadway (July 16). Master illusionist Lyn Dillies (August 6) will mystify patrons, and doo-wop legends will leave the audience bopping and twisting at Harvey Robbins’ Royalty of Doo-Wop
(August 27).

“This is our season,” explains Hanney. “It’s a lot in 12 weeks, but it’s what we’re used to.” After 85 years, TBTS is proving that the theater is as alive as ever. Wakefield