Tried and True, Bold and New

A pro stage preview of Hampton Roads Theater

Theaters search for mainstream scripts to bring in audiences

Tried and true, or bold and new? That’s a basic choice facing theaters when picking scripts to produce or shows to present. Lately the economy has pushed theaters toward well-known shows and material, works that can generally guarantee good sales, but now some are ready to pick more challenging material or add untried works to their programs.

The Broadway Across America shows at Chrysler Hall are heavy on nostalgia. Frank Sinatra, Frankie Valli, Mary Poppins and, if it’s time to wax nostalgic about punk-rock, even the Green Day musical ensemble, put a quintet of two traditional and three concert-style musicals firmly in the safe and sound category.

Of course, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joey Bishop and Sammy Davis Jr. had loads of talent, so The Rat Pack is Back (Oct. 12–13), a take on their Las Vegas shows from the early Kennedy years, has admirable raw material.