■ Individual tickets go on sale to the public June 1, 2012. For more information about group sales or to request information, go online to www.broadwaypalm.com, call (239) 278-4422 or stop by the Broadway Palm box office at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.
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FORT MYERS — Broadway Palm unveiled a populist, mass-appeal 20th anniversary season during a champagne brunch and preview party Friday morning, along with a host of changes designed to make the theatre more inviting for patrons.
"It's hard to believe I jumped in a Ford Explorer 20 years ago and moved to Southwest Florida," Broadway Palm owner and executive producer Will Prather said before introducing his parents Tom and Deborah and ruminating on the fact that he was just 23 when he started the theater in Fort Myers.
In what Broadway Palm describes in their press materials as a "landmark year," the theater plans to make a variety of cosmetic upgrades, service improvements and changes to the dining menu to "enhance the dinner theatre experience."
"But I promise you all, the pot roast is not going anywhere," Prather assured the crowd. Watch video of Broadway Palm owner Will Prather talking about his new season and the changes at the theater.
Here are the major (and minor) changes:
■ New seating arrangements will create more private 2-person and 4-person tables. Total seating will drop from 448 to 416, sacrificing 7 percent of the theater's capacity. Prather acknowledges this is a risk, especially as shows like the mega-popular "Brigadoon" have sold at or near full capacity during the height of season, but believes the move will help redefine the theater as an upscale dining and entertainment destination.
■ Main stage ticket prices will go up, ranging from $35 - $55; Off-Broadway Palm ticket prices will go up $3
■ Reserved seating in the Off-Broadway Palm
■ A reconfigured dining area to alleviate lines for the buffet and help with crowd control, especially during season
■ New wallpaper, paint and decorations, plus renovated restrooms
■ Changes to the dining menu, including low-salt, low-sugar and gluten-free items (that last drew a cheer from the crowd)
■ Saturday evening a la carte dining and a premium appetizer/dessert menu
Prather spoke enthusiastically about the dining changes, saying that he's most excited about the opportunity for patrons to experience a la carte dining on Saturdays.
"We want to create a refined, upscale experience for patrons on Saturday nights," he said. "We're offering a la carte to match what the customers want."
In addition to the physical changes, Off-Broadway Palm artistic director Paul Bernier and the casts of current shows "Brigadoon" and "The Great American Trailer Park Musical" ran through nine musical numbers from the upcoming season.
Major highlights (and crowd-pleasers) include "The Sound of Music," "9 to 5: The Musical," holiday classic "Miracle on 34th Street," "Menopause The Musical," "A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline" and "Shrek the Musical."
The season will also include timeless classic "Fiddler on the Roof" to open the 2013 year and run during the height of season. Roars greeted the announcement as the tunes of "Matchmaker, Matchmaker" began to play.
"'Fiddler'" is our most requested show," Bernier said.
Here's the season:
■ "The Rat Pack" - Sept. 6 to Oct. 6, 2012 ($39 dinner & show season opener special)
■ "9 to 5: The Musical" - Oct. 11 - Nov. 17, 2012
■ "Miracle on 34th Street" - Nov. 22 - Dec. 25, 2012
■ "Fiddler on the Roof" - Dec. 29, 2012 - Feb. 16, 2013
■ "The Sound of Music" - Feb. 21 - April 6, 2013
■ "Menopause The Musical" - April 11 - May 18, 2013
■ "A Closer Walk with Patsy Cline" - May 23 - June 22, 2013
■ "Shrek the Musical" - June 27 - August 10, 2013
■ "Caught in the Net" - July 12 - August 25, 2012
■ "I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change" - Nov. 1 - Dec. 23, 2013
■ "Dixie Swim Club" - Jan. 17 - March 9, 2013
■ "The Fox on the Fairway" - March 14 - May 4, 2013
Individual tickets go on sale to the public June 1, 2012. For more information about group sales or to request information, go online to www.broadwaypalm.com, call (239) 278-4422 or stop by the Broadway Palm box office at 1380 Colonial Boulevard in Fort Myers.