Kentucky Conservatory Theatre and the University of Kentucky Theatre are getting into a habit of running into each other.
When the theaters announced their upcoming seasons on Jan. 27, both schedules included the Tony Award-winning musical Spring Awakening. It will be the second consecutive season that both theaters have presented the same show.
In the current season, UK Theatre and Kentucky Conservatory Theatre, which presents the SummerFest theater festival in The Arboretum each July, both scheduled Tracy Lett's Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning August: Osage County. KCT's was in October, and UK's opens Feb. 27.
"We definitely need to work on avoiding this," says Nancy Jones, chairwoman of the theater department at UK. "Maybe we can find a way to give a heads-up to each other before we announce our productions."
Kentucky Conservatory Theatre general manager Wes Nelson says, "Although it may not seem like an ideal situation to many, the fact of the matter is that it happened and it is best for both producing theaters to be positive and supportive of each other."
A rock musical, Spring Awakening is an adaptation of an 1892 German play about a group of teens' sexual coming of age. It has become to the Millennial generation what Rent was to Generation X and Hair was to Baby Boomers.
"It's no surprise that if a show is important to one group of artists in town, it will be important to other artists, because there is something in the zeitgeist," Jones says.
Nelson says he had heard rumors that several theaters in town were looking at Spring Awakening.
Both theaters have acquired the rights to present Spring Awakening from Music Theatre International.
Jones says that if any other show on her schedule (see ArtyFacts, Page F2) had duplicated another company's show, she would have changed it.
But "my students would be devastated" if UK Theatre did not stage Spring Awakening," Jones says. "They want to do Spring Awakening, for good reason. It's right in their wheelhouse."
Jones and Nelson both say they don't think their audiences overlap much. But both acknowledge that two productions of a high-profile show is not ideal. Nelson in part attributes the duplication to the growth of theater in Lexington, which has seen several new troupes emerge in the past several years.
"I feel that these scheduling issues are merely one of the examples of growing pains," Nelson says.
There have been other duplicate productions in Lexington theater in recent years. This season, Almost, Maine was presented last fall in a joint production by Transylvania University and Project SEE Theatre; The Woodford Theatre's production is currently playing. Last year, Bluegrass Community and Technical College, in a co-production with Actors Guild of Lexington, presented The Rocky Horror Show, which SummerFest mounted a few months later. In 2008, Actors Guild and Balagula Theatre both had productions of The Pillowman.