Comedy and country dominate Turlock Community Theatre’s upcoming season of shows, which also embraces a reality television connection.
Four of the six performers on the season’s bill have been contestants on reality competition shows. The two without that link are legendary comedian Bill Cosby – who, of course, has his own long-standing connection to groundbreaking television sitcoms – and comic Mike Birbiglia.
“When we were first looking at one of (the shows), it just came up,” the theater’s managing director, Kit Casey, said. When another reality TV link presented itself, “we thought, ‘This is great, why don’t we try to make this a theme if we can?’ ”
Tickets go on sale at 10 a.m. Aug. 8 for the 2014-15 season, which also includes music from Trace Adkins and Scotty McCreery. Season ticket packages – four to six shows – are on sale now and range in price from $169 to $434, depending on the seat level and number of events purchased.
The country and comedy themes follow the wish lists of the theater’s patrons, Casey said.
“We’ve done a lot of surveys in the past, and at the top of the list is country, followed by comedy and rock ’n’ roll,” he said, adding that “there are irons in the fire” for additional shows that will represent other genres.
The new season kicks off with a multicomedic treat, especially for fans of this summer’s television competition series “Last Comic Standing.”
Finalists from the show – airing Thursday nights on NBC – will perform Sept. 22 at the historic venue. The series has been airing since May 22 and continues all summer with several comedians battling to stay in the competition. Judges Roseanne Barr, Keenen Ivory Wayans and Russell Peters decide which comic goes home each week.
Casey said promoters haven’t said exactly how many comedians will appear in Turlock, but he expects three to five, with the winner of the competition among them.
Tickets for the “Last Comic Standing” tour – recommended for mature audiences – will be $29 to $39 with a VIP package for $114 that includes a 30-minute meet-and-greet before the show, a photo with the comics, autographs and more.
Keeping the comic flag flying will be shows by veteran funnyman Cosby, 2007 “America’s Got Talent” winner Terry Fator and the return of Birbiglia.
Cosby will close the season Jan. 18. The iconic actor, writer and comedian has been making generations laugh with his stand-up routines, albums and books. His role in the 1960s television show “I Spy” helped break TV’s racial barrier; from there he was given “The Bill Cosby Show” in 1969, which ran for two seasons; he returned to television in the 1980s family sitcom “The Cosby Show.” He also created and hosted the cartoon “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” which debuted in the 1970s and was loosely based on his experiences growing up in Philadelphia. Tickets to see the Emmy-winning Cosby will be $65 to $85.
Fator had 25 years in entertainment under his belt when he won the “America’s Got Talent” title in 2007. After the win, he went on to sign a multimillion-dollar deal with The Mirage in Las Vegas, where his award-winning “Terry Fator: The VOICE of Entertainment” has been running since 2009. His shows combine singing, comedy and celebrity impressions. Tickets to Fator’s Oct. 26 show will be $65 to $125.
Birbiglia has made his living telling unique personal tales. He returns to Turlock – his last appearance was in 2012 – with an all-new show about jokes and how they can get people into trouble. Casey said Birbiglia’s show is more of a one-man theatrical comedy performance than stand-up routine. Tickets for the Dec. 9 show will be $29 to $39.
Country music will be represented first by singer Trace Adkins, whose trademark baritone has sold more than 10 million albums. The Grammy-nominated singer is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and also is known for winning NBC’s “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” title, raising more than $1.5 million for the American Red Cross. Adkins performs Sept. 23, and tickets will be $56 to $77.
Deep-voiced Scotty McCreery quickly became one of the country’s rising stars after winning “American Idol” in 2011 at the age of 17, with album sales at more than $1.6 million. His debut album, “Clear as Day,” won several awards from Billboard, the Academy of Country Music and Country Music Television. His second album is “See You Tonight.” Tickets for McCreery’s Oct. 5 show will be $55 to $69.
The 2014-15 season will come off a successful 2013-14 for the Turlock venue, Casey said. “It was a good season,” he said. “We had good turnout for most of the shows,” including three or four sellouts and the others at least three-quarters full.
Country singer Vince Gill and classic rock group Foreigner were the biggest hits last season, with singer Jackie Evancho and comedians Jim Breuer and Don Rickles also selling well, Casey said.
Still on the current calendar at the theater is an Aug. 16 appearance by award-winning singer Melissa Manchester, known for singles like “Midnight Blue,” “Don’t Cry Out Loud” and “You Should Hear How She Talks About Him.” Tickets, $38 to $58, are on sale.
For more information, go to www.turlocktheatre.org or call (209) 668-1169.