The Civic Theatre of Allentown will present Billy Elliot The Musical (BETM) across 10 performances in its newly renovated Nineteenth Street Theatre, from October 12-28, 2018.
The Civic Theatre of Allentown is a historic theatre production company that produces live theatre, runs educational programs, and screens art house films. Opening in the Nineteenth Street Theatre, it was originally a movie house. In fact, it is the oldest cinema in Allentown, opening on 17 September 1928. In July 1957, the property was purchased by the Allentown’s Civic Little Theatre, and since that time stage productions have been performed at the theatre. In 1994 the company officially changed its name to the “Civic Theatre of Allentown.”
An interesting fact… when it opened, the theatre featured a new Moller DeLuxe theatre organ that the owners of the Nineteenth Street had purchased for $16,000. The heirloom instrument is still played at times for audiences at the theatre today.
The theatre has been closed since January as the Civic Theatre is undergoing a three-phase renovation project, begun in April 2017, that will restore the auditorium, upgrade the stage equipment and improve the backstage and front-of-house amenities. In fact, its production of BETM marks the grand reopening of the theatre.
Other productions in this historic season will include A Christmas Carol, The Santaland Diaries, Noises Off, Buyer and Cellar, Fun Home, and Constellations.
When the 2018-19 season was being put together by the Civic Theatre creative team, Civic Artistic Director William Sanders, who would also direct BETM for the organization, decided to go ahead with the production despite the fact that no lead actor had been specifically identified to play Billy. He had stated many times that BETM was his favorite show.
The fact that a lead actor had not been identified rapidly changed, to the delight of Mr. Sanders and the rest of his creative team, when they received an inquiry from Parker James Fullmore and subsequently audition tapes of his singing, acting and dance. It didn’t take long for the veteran Billy (he has performed in two previous productions in the role) to be cast.
According to Jonathan T. Shehab, the Director of Marketing & Community Engagement for the Civic Theatre, preparing for the show has been very challenging due to the renovation of their theater and the inability to use their normal rehearsal space. “We have been rehearsing in the Dolly Haltzman Dance Studio for all of our choreography and then Muhlenberg Elementary School for blocking and such.” He cites the amazing support from the community and Civic friends throughout the entire process in helping it all come together.
To see a complete listing of the rest of the Civic Theatre’s cast, just click on the Cast Information button.