Another problem, and a bigger one, really, for the playhouse is the skimpy sound system. Musical director David Nagy's hard-working ensemble does a good job, but there are a mere seven musicians in the pit, and they have to work with a sound system that, from the looks of the teeny speakers clinging to the proscenium walls, no self-respecting undergrad would keep in a dorm room. Theaters focusing on musicals should spend at least as much attention on the sound and music in their shows as the headdresses on the extras.
Still, this King is a very attractive production, part of a season that marks a sea change in the playhouse's identity. Now that it has successfully met the challenges of large-scale musical production with a mix of local and out-of-area talent, it will be expected to do so in the future. The playhouse itself has clearly been thinking about growth, as evidenced by the recent announcement of the upcoming 2002-03 season. The first show, a coproduction with the Broadway producers responsible for The Producers, will be a revival of a well-known musical, but the title remains a secret as of press time. Whatever it is will reportedly involve revisions and adaptations of the original production while the show is in residence at the playhouse, after which it is scheduled to move on to New York in spring 2003.
The new season also includes a smartly written comic thriller, Charles Marowitz's Sherlock's Last Case; the aforementioned Sound of Music as the centerpiece musical; and two smaller musicals: the little-known but fascinating Floyd Collins, a dark tale about a Kentucky man trapped in a cave; and the lightweight The Big Bang.This lineup is a significant step for the company, with most of these shows decidedly stronger material than in the past. Lamentably, the playhouse continues to cling to its perennial, done-to-death, aptly titled summer show, I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change.