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Lyric Stage Gets Ready to Rumble

From Lyric Stage's production of Carousel last fall

Could it be? Yes, it could. Something’s coming, something good.

To Lyric Stage, that is. Big musicals on a small budget are what the 16-year-old musical theater company in Irving does best. But its 2008-'09 season lineup, announced today by company founder-producer Steven Jones, heralds two huge shows that will be performed with full orchestras. “Our biggest season yet,” says Jones in today’s press release.

Lyric is getting a much-needed boost in bucks from a National Endowment for the Arts grant. The money will pay for a full 30-piece orchestra for a two-week run in June 2009 of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I, featuring the original Robert Russell Bennett orchestrations used for the 1951 Broadway premiere. Last season’s $30,000 NEA grant paid for a full pit orchestra for Lyric’s Carousel, which wowed critics and audiences last September.

Lyric also plans a full-out West Side Story, on the calendar as the season-opener next fall with a big orchestra and the original Jerome Robbins choreography. Tony-nominated director-choreographer Grover Dale, who played Snowboy (one of the Jets) in West Side Story on Broadway (1957-'59), will stage the show.

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Also on the slate for next season: the Sheldon Harnick-Jerry Bock political bio-musical Fiorello!, about the rise to power of NYC’s legendary mayor, Fiorello LaGuardia; and the Texas premiere of As Thousands Cheer, a Depression-era musical satire with sketches by Moss Hart and songs by Irving Berlin, including “Heat Wave” and “Easter Parade.”

An Evening with Donna McKechnie will be a two-night Lyric concert event in January starring the veteran Broadway singer-dancer who was the original Cassie in A Chorus Line.

Lyric Stage performs in the Irving Arts Center. Their last show of this season is Hello, Dolly!, opening April 26. Subscriptions are available by calling the box office at 972-252-2787 or online. --Elaine Liner

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