“Noël, the Girl Who Saved Santa” will be an updated version of a production that toured in 2018. (Courtesy VenuWorks Theatricals)
Original Christmas production planned for later this year
Five years after VenuWorks CEO Steve Peters and Irish singer Michael Londra founded VenuWorks Theatricals, the company is launching three new productions.
Set for a run beginning around Christmastime, “Noël, the Girl Who Saved Santa,” is an original musical by Eoin Colfer and Liam Bates that was first staged at the National Opera House in Wexford, Ireland, where it had a sold-out run in 2016. The musical toured U.S. cities in late 2018 and has now been updated into a 90-minute production geared toward children, Peters tells VenuesNow.
“It’s going to tour to a whole different market segment this coming Christmas season in November and December of 2021,” he said, noting that the running time will allow venues to stage the show two to three times a day while maintaining social distancing requirements.
“I think of Noel as a little Shirley Temple sort of character who marches around and gets things done and makes things happen and she saves Santa Claus from himself because he’s become disillusioned and he’s lost hope and he’s lost the spirit of Christmas and she finds him working with the homeless in a city park,” Peters explained.
The second production is the first-ever stage version of “Summer Stock,” the rights to which the company secured from Warner Bros. in 2020, although the 1950 movie version starring Judy Garland and Gene Kelly was produced by MGM. The production includes classic numbers like “Sing Hallelujah, Come On Get Happy” and “Accentuate the Positive.”
VenuWorks Theatricals is looking for a suitable co-producing theater for the show’s premiere, targeted for summer 2022. The musical will be directed by Sam Scalamoni with Gary Adler serving as music director and Charlie Sutton doing the choreogrtaphy. A table reading is planned for fall of this year in New York.
“It’s going to be a wicked tap dance show with a lot of movement,” Peters said.
A table reading had been planned for March of 2020, but it was canceled because of the COVID-19 outbreak, he said.
The third production, titled “Ireland with Michael,” is described as “a new multi-dimensional concept” that combines a six-episode TV series airing on public television in spring 2021, a live theatrical show, a web series and a companion travel guidebook.
The production is hosted by Londra and tells the story of Ireland through its various artists.
“It grew out of Michael returning to Ireland constantly returning home to Wexford (a picturesque locale on the southern tip of Ireland),” Peters said.
Londra filmed a concert he did at the opera house in Wexford, where a major opera festival is held each year, and “hit upon the idea of building that into a series” on public television. The interactive production that grew out of his work will tour U.S. venues once tours are allowed again, possibly around Christmastime, Peters said.
Peters is also founder and CEO of VenuWorks, an Ames, Iowa-based venue management company with over 40 theaters, arenas and conference centers across 13 states in its portfolio.
VenuWorks Theatricals also formed an artist booking agency that has a roster of artists and acts — including “Celtic Woman” star Chloë Agnew, Irish singer Nathan Carter, the Official Blues Brothers Revue, Londra and the Real Irish Comedy Show.
A Blues Brothers Revue show at the Old Joliet (Illinois) Prison, which is now a tourist attraction, had been planned as part of a 2020 tour to coincide with the 40th anniversary of ”The Blues Brothers” movie, which featured the former state penitentiary, but was nixed because of the pandemic, Peters said. He hopes to rebook that engagement when the tour hits the road again.
The shows will likely play venues like performing arts centers and theaters with 1,000-2,000 person capacities as well as outdoor venues.
“The future is bright,” he said. “We’re pretty small, we don’t have big overhead. We’re ready to start booking dates for the fall when the world reopens.”