“Showboat,” written in 1927 by Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II, has become a classic in American musicals, with its rich story and score and a deeper look at American society than was customary in musicals of the day. In addition to light, happy production numbers, it looks at racial prejudice and tragic love.
The well-known songs “Ol’ Man River,” “Make Believe” and “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” are often heard in concerts across the country.
It is Central City Opera’s third selection of its 2013 Festival and will be performed in Denver at the Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Complex, Aug. 6-11. Two other shows were performed at the 1877 stone opera house in Central City: “Barber of Seville” and “Our Town.” But that house only has 550 seats, so even a sold-out house doesn’t generate the sort of revenue it takes to stage opera performances.
The company has strong support from many donors, but it hopes that a week’s production in a large house will draw the DCPA’s many musical theater fans as well.
Director Ray Roderick is makes his debut with the company, although he has extensive Broadway and national tour experience.
Hal France returns to lead the Central City Opera Orchestra, and cast members are Gene Scheer, Denise Lute, Julia Burrows, Emily Pulley, Angela Renee Simpson, Troy Cook, Soloman Howard, Curt Olds and Ellen Kaye.
An additional “Riverboat Royale-Mardi Gras Ball” is hosted on Aug. 10 at the Dikeou Collection, 16th and California streets, Denver. (Ticket for matinee and ball-$95.)
“Showboat” plays through Aug. 11 at the Buell Theatre, Denver Performing Arts Center. Performances: 2 p.m. Aug. 10, 11; 7:30 p.m. Aug. 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. Tickets: centralcityopera.org, 303-292-6700.