KEARNEY — Crane River Theater officially has produced a decade of theater in Kearney and the company has no plans of stopping. It all began one evening in 2008 when friends Steve Barth, Brian Botsford and Brooke Bradford came together with the idea to produce a show in their hometown of Kearney.
Fast-forward more than 10 years, and that idea has now entertained 133,400 audience members and educated 15,747 youths with Crane River’s arts education programs. The numbers are so impressive that they even surprised Artistic Director Barth. “The support we have received these last 10 years is overwhelming. People from all over the state have welcomed us with open arms, and we cannot wait for what the next 10 years holds for us.”
Crane River Theater directors will be traveling to six cities in January and February to audition thousands of artists for the 2020 season. Classic fairy tales, original stories and holiday favorites will comprise the lineup of shows. They will perform at many venues throughout Kearney, including Yanney Heritage Park, Merryman Performing Arts Center and the World Theatre.
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In 2020 they will even produce a show in the fall under a large tent at Patriot Park.
“There is truly something for everyone!” according to Barth.
Coming in 2020:
- “Songs from the Movies” will kick off the 2020 season March 5-8. Crane River Theater first presented this high-spirited concert production three years ago with rave reviews. Back by popular demand, this audience favorite will feature live performances of timeless film songs such as “Old Time Rock and Roll” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” The historic World Theatre is the perfect venue for this trip down cinematic memory lane.
Crane River Theater founder Brian Botsford remembers his days as a child going to the World Theatre. “I grew up going to movies at The World, so to be producing live theater on that stage years later is pretty awesome.”
- “God of Carnage” also will appear onstage at the World Theatre June 4-7. It is commonly referred to as a comedy of manners, without the manners. The 2009 Broadway production received the Tony Award for Best Play and The New Yorker called it “90 minutes of sustained mayhem.” The story follows two sets of parents, who are brought together after their sons get into a fight on the playground.
After seeing the production on Broadway, Barth said, “It was one the most surprising and entertaining shows I saw while living in New York. I am excited to finally share it with Kearney audiences.”
- “Cinderella” will be under the open sky at Yanney Heritage Park June 19-July 3. Every year, Crane River Theater’s outdoor production draws thousands of audience members to Kearney. The Nebraska Tourism Commission awarded Crane River’s production of “The Little Mermaid” as Outstanding Event of the Year in 2017. “Cinderella” is sure to capture the hearts of kids and adults with its charm and elegance.
Crane River Theater never ceases to amaze audiences with their lavish costumes and beautiful scenery, so be sure to make a trip to Yanney Park this summer for the show.
- “Mamma Mia” is expected break attendance records, so Crane River Theater already has added an additional weekend of performances. It will run July 24-Aug. 9. The storytelling magic of ABBA’s timeless songs propels this enchanting tale of love, laughter and friendship, creating an unforgettable show. See why this show has become one of the most popular in recent history, with audiences totaling more than 60 million.
- “Celebrate Broadway” has become an annual tradition for Crane River Theater.
“It was one of the first shows we ever did, and it remains one of our favorites year after year.” said Botsford. Members of the 2020 summer company will bring the world of Broadway to life. Featuring music from legendary composers such as Ira Gershwin, Rodgers & Hammerstein, and Alan Menken, it is entertainment for all ages. It will run Aug. 15-16 at the Merryman Performing Arts Center.
- “Letters From Home” will be presented under a large tent at Patriot Park beside the new Central Nebraska Veteran’s Home on Sept. 11-13. This show brings back the style of the USO from World War II to Vietnam with high-energy performances to honor veterans, active military heroes and their families. In 2019, it was performed as part of the 75th D-Day celebration in Normandy, France. Crane River Theater alumni Dan Beckmann and show creator Erinn Dearth will dazzle audiences with their singing and dancing, while touching hearts at the same time with the true meaning of patriotism.
- “A Christmas Story” concludes Crane River Theater’s 2020 season just in time for the holidays. It follows 9-year-old Ralphie Parker in his quest to get a genuine Red Ryder BB gun under the tree for Christmas. All the elements from the beloved motion picture are captured in this production, including the boys’ experiment with a wet tongue on a cold lamppost, the old man winning a “fragile” leg lamp, and the pink bunny pajamas from Aunt Clara. Retold with a touch of childhood fantasy, these Christmas stories remind us all why we love the holidays. It will be presented Dec. 17-20.
Barth shared one final thought.
“It has been an honor to share these last 10 years with my hometown. Kearney is a community rich with the arts and we are lucky to share it with so many wonderful artists,” he said.