By David Markham
The story of a city teen who moves to a small farming community where rock music and dancing are outlawed is the final show for the Theatre in the Park’s 2023 outdoor season in Shawnee Mission Park.
“Footloose,” which is Rated PG, will be on the TIP stage July 28 through 30 and Aug. 2 through 5. Also during August, the final three films in the 2023 Movies in the Park program will be presented on TIP’s outdoor stage.
Based on the 1984 film and augmented with dynamic new songs, “Footloose” celebrates the wisdom of listening to young people while guiding them with a warm heart and an open mind.
In the story, when Ren and his mother move from Chicago to a small farming town, he is prepared for the inevitable adjustment period at his new high school. But he’s not prepared for the rigorous local edicts, including a ban on dancing instituted by the local preacher, who is determined to exercise control over the town’s youth. When the reverend’s rebellious daughter sets her sights on Ren, her roughneck boyfriend tries to sabotage Ren’s reputation, with many of the locals eager to believe the worst about the new kid. The heartfelt story that emerges pins a father longing for the son he lost against a young man aching for the father who walked out on him.
This show runs approximately 2.5 hours with one 15-minute intermission.
Much more information about the theatre and this year’s productions is available at the Theatre in the Park’s website, theatreinthepark.org.
For outdoor productions, the box office opens at 7 p.m., gates to the theatre bowl open at 7:30 p.m., and shows begin at 8:30 p.m. General admission is $10 for adults, $6 for youth ages four to ten, plus tax, and free for children three and under, but tickets are still required. Tickets can be purchased at the box office or online. “Anytime tickets” available via either ticket-buying method, are not specific to a certain night or performance, and can be printed out at home and scanned at the gate. A limited number of reserved tickets for outdoor chairs are also available for every performance for $20 each.
Continuing in 2023 are Thrifty Thursdays when a 20% discount is offered on Thursday night performances. This makes adult tickets $8 and children’s tickets $4.80, plus tax for the Aug. 3 performance of “Footloose.” The discounted tickets must be purchased at the box office on the evening of the show.
Theatre in the Park performances are one of several JCPRD programs eligible for free tickets or admission through the Kansas Department of Education’s Sunflower Summer promotion offered through Aug. 13. Now in its third year, this app-based program partners with more than 115 venues across the state to provide a summer of enrichment for pre-K to 12th grade students in the state of Kansas, as well as their parents and legal guardians. The program is designed to provide a wide variety of ways for families to get out, explore something new, and enjoy time together. Get started by going to sunflowersummer.org to download the app and create an account. Other participating JCPRD program areas include the Johnson County Museum, 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park, and the Ernie Miller Nature Center, 909 N. Kansas 7 Highway, Olathe.
The Movies in the Park program lets participants see popular recent films on a big screen on the TIP stage for only $1 per person at the gate. Films are shown on selected Tuesday and Friday nights when musical productions are not scheduled. The other two films will be presented on Friday nights in August after the TIP outdoor season concludes. August movies are: “Trolls World Tour,” Rated G, on Aug. 1; “The Goonies,” Rated PG, on Aug. 11; and “Top Gun Maverick,” Rated PG-13, on Aug. 18.
Visitors to TIP’s outdoor venue this summer can also view a temporary public art installation called “Cloud Cover” by Kansas City Visual Artist Chris Dahlquist. This photographic sculpture is a play on perspective, giving a colorful greeting to TIP visitors. Featuring photographs of clouds printed on bright acrylic suspended overhead, Cloud Cover celebrates the intersection of the colored stage lights and the open skies intrinsic to the park. It provides a fun and engaging respite from the sun while inviting viewers to lay back, look up, and slow down. This installation is located near the south entrance to the theater bowl. Find out more about Dahlquist’s work at theatreinthepark.org/temporary-art-2023.
Rounding out TIP’s 2023 season are two additional shows which will be presented indoors at The Black Box Theatre, located at the Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center. TIP’s fall indoor production will be “Little Shop of Horrors,” which is Rated PG, and will take place Oct. 6 through 22. TIP’s December production at JCAHC will again be “Seussical the Musical,” which is Rated G, and will take place on Dec. 8 through 23.
This year’s outdoor season is sponsored by AdventHealth Shawnee Mission. Sponsorships for specific shows are still available, and you can learn more by calling Development Director Kelly Blandford at 913-826-3448 or at [email protected].
The Theatre in the Park’s outdoor location is north of the main entrance to Shawnee Mission Park at 7710 Renner Road in Shawnee. Meadowbrook Park is located at 9101 Nall Ave., Prairie Village. Heritage Park is located at 16050 Pflumm Road, Olathe. The Johnson County Arts & Heritage Center is located at 8788 Metcalf Ave., Overland Park.