The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall announced details of its upcoming 2017-18 Broadway, dance and classical series Monday evening at a special event at the hall for subscribers and press.
Executive director Mary Bensel took the stage before sharing video clips of the upcoming shows with the audience, promising they would be taken on a journey from “Motown to China to Jersey” and “into the past and the future” as well. And after the season announcement, she also introduced members of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, who performed several Motown numbers to get subscribers in the mood for one of the coming season’s biggest shows.
That show, headlining the Broadway series (with eight performances), is Motown the Musical, featuring hits from Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and others who were a part of Motown’s history. That’s onstage March 27 through April 1.
Also included in the Broadway line-up are the Tony Award-winning A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, which tells the comedic story of the heir to a fortune who sets out to eliminate the relatives who stand in his way (Jan. 6 and 7); the longstanding Kander & Ebb hit Cabaret (Jan. 30 and 31); Circus 1903, a turn-of-the-century spectacular utilizing puppetry as well as a huge cast of circus acts (Feb. 5 and 6); the beloved tales of The Wizard of Oz (March 6 and 7) and Peter Pan (March 26); a return of the megahit Jersey Boys (April 10-12); and A Chorus Line (April 24 and 25).
In addition, there are three “Broadway special” shows: Buddy, following Buddy Holly’s rise to rock ‘n’ roll fame (Dec. 5); another show about a rocker, A Night with Janis Joplin (Jan. 8); and Neil Berg’s 109 Years of Broadway, an all-new show of more than a century of Broadway favorites (March 13).
In the hall’s classical series, operatic superstar Renee Fleming makes her second visit after a soldout concert here in 2016, presenting a recital performance on Jan. 16, 2018. That’s followed by the China National Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Tan Dun and in town just in time for the Chinese New Year (Feb. 22); the National Symphony Orchestra of Cuba, featuring the Gold Medal winner of the 2017 Van Cliburn International Piano Competition as soloist (March 11); the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields, led by music director and virtuoso violinist Joshua Bell (March 24); and the Silk Road Ensemble headed by cellist Yo-Yo Ma (April 19), whom, Bensel noted, has not appeared at the hall in some time. The annual Salute to Vienna New Year’s concert will also take place, on Jan. 3.
On the dance front, the series begins with Tango Fire, bringing to town German Cornejo’s Buenos Aires dance troupe (Jan. 12). A change of pace follows with the Sarasota premiere of BalletBoyz, a company from the United Kingdom billed as “one of the most cheekily original and innovative forces in modern dance” (Feb. 1). Travis Wall’s Shaping Sound—After the Curtain brings this brand-new show from So You Think You Can Dance choreographer Wall to the stage (Feb. 7). The Moscow Festival Ballet returns with productions of Carmen and Romeo and Juliet (Feb. 27); Dance to the Movies celebrates and reinvents some of Hollywood’s best musical moments with the work of seven choreographers (March 12); and Swiss-based theater troupe Mummenschanz returns with the production you & me (April 26).
Bensel also told the Van Wezel crowd that subscribers to the 2017-18 season would have first access to tickets for the 2018-19 show, The Lion King, when they renew for the 2018-19 season. That production will be a Sarasota premiere.
More music and comedy shows will be announced in a few months; in the meantime, subscription packages are available for purchase at the box office or by calling (941) 953-3368.