The stage lights at Cornwell’s Dinner Theatre will have been dark for over a year by the time May 14 arrives, which will be opening night for the venue’s 35th season of Broadway plays and musicals.
“The pandemic has been hard on us all,” says Patti Cornwell, whose family has owned and operated Cornwell’s Turkeyville USA for over 50 years on their 400-acre farm, “but we put the time to good use. I am very excited for everyone to meet our new Producing Artistic Director, Dexter Brigham, and see the wonderful new shows he is bringing to our stage.”
Dexter joins the Cornwell’s team from Midland Center for the Arts, where he served as the Director of Theatre Programs for the past eight years. He has 18 years of experience as a theatre producer and director, including twelve seasons as the founder and artistic director of Festival 56, Illinois’ largest summer theatre festival. Prior to becoming a producer, Dexter was an actor for many years. Among his many roles, you may have seen him come through Miller Auditorium as Fred Petruchio on the Broadway national tour of Kiss Me, Kate, or understudying Percy in the national tour of The Scarlet Pimpernel. He and his wife, Laura, have two young boys, Cullen and Jack.
“I’m so excited to get started. I can’t wait to welcome the Cornwell’s audiences back to the farm, and into the theatre,” says Dexter. “It’s been way too long since we’ve been able to come together and enjoy a show, and we are working hard to make sure we can give everyone a safe and entertaining day in the country!”
When asked about his new role, Dexter comments, “I love everything about Cornwell’s: the warmth and intimacy of the venue, the incredible food, and having it all under the wide-open Michigan sky. Patti and I are in complete agreement that the shows on our stage are going be new, ambitious, and feature the very best talent we can hire from across the country.”
Kicking off the season on May 14 will be the bedroom farce, Right Bed, Wrong Husband, which follows a young man whose uncle holds the keys to his considerable inheritance. In order to have his allowance increased, he lies to his uncle about having a fiancée. But when the uncle arrives on his doorstep, he and his friends scramble to keep up the illusion!
On July 8, the musical adaptation of the gospel according to St. Matthew, Godspell, the first musical from the Grammy and Academy Award-winning songwriter behind Wicked and Pippin, Stephen Schwartz, will come to the Cornwell’s stage. A ragtag group of misfits help Jesus Christ tell different parables by using a wide variety of games, storytelling techniques and hefty doses of comic timing.
In the fall, opening September 9, the songbook of Johnny Cash takes the stage in Ring of Fire. This unique musical about love and faith, struggle and success, rowdiness and redemption, and the healing power of home and family has entertained audiences around the world. More than two dozen classic hits—including “I Walk the Line,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and the title tune—paint a musical portrait of The Man in Black that promises to be a foot-stompin’, crowd-pleasin’ salute to a unique musical legend.
The final show of the season, Dashing Through the Snow, follows in the longstanding tradition of Cornwell’s musical holiday celebrations. When a family get stranded in a roadside motel lobby during a snowstorm on Christmas Eve, they find themselves making unexpected friends and a whole lot of memories.
Season tickets for the 2021 season are now available. Ticket pricing and information can be found on the Cornwell’s website at turkeyville.com, or by calling 269.781.4293.