The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall will bring a mix of comedians, singers, dancers and other performers to the stage in the 2018-19 season, which begins Oct. 11 with a visit from British comedian Eddie Izzard, on his “Believe Me” tour.
The hall, which had previously announced the Broadway, dance, and classical music seasons, revealed the rest of the line-up Monday, Aug. 27, including some big names, both returning and new to the Sarasota area. Executive director Mary Bensel says, “Complementing our biggest Broadway season ever are some of Broadway’s brightest stars: Bernadette Peters off her triumphant turn on Broadway in Hello, Dolly!, Alan Cumming, Lea Salonga, Linda Eder.” And she adds that, “I am really excited to be presenting Stephen Stills and Judy Collins together.”
Here are the newly announced season stars and shows.
In October, following Izzard’s Van Wezel premiere, Lord of the Dance returns with a new show, Dangerous Games, Oct. 14. Jazz saxophonist Kenny G takes the stage Oct. 19, and American icon Bob Dylan shows up with his band Oct. 21. Also that month: The Simon & Garfunkel Story, a concert-style theatrical show highlighting the famous duo’s career. That’s Oct. 27.
November gets into full swing at the hall, offering An Evening with Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen, Nov. 6; comedy ensemble Capitol Steps, with “Orange is the New Barack,” Nov. 7; Neil Berg’s 50 Years of Rock and Roll Part II, Nov. 9; Stills & Collins, Nov. 16; Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis, Nov. 17; Beyond Glory, starring Stephen Lang in the stories of eight different veterans, Nov. 19; the annual Dave Koz Christmas Tour, Nov. 23; ever popular dance band KC and the Sunshine Band, Nov. 24; Black Violin, featuring Florida natives Will Baptiste and Kev Marcus on their “Classical Boom” tour, Nov. 27; and Jim Brickman—A Joyful Christmas, Nov. 28.
The December holiday period also brings audiences Brian Wilson Presents the Christmas Album Live with special guests Al Jardine and Blondie Chaplin, Dec. 11; A Christmas Carol, Dec. 16; and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer The Musical, Dec. 22. Celtic Thunder X returns with its five male soloists in a 10th anniversary show, Dec. 18.
The New Year rings in as it always does with a Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert, Jan. 2. Comedian Jay Leno returns Jan. 3, and 3 Redneck Tenors, mixing music and comedy, appear Jan. 9. Also on the January schedule: Blue Suede Shoes, an Elvis birthday bash, Jan. 10; the band Air Supply, Jan. 13; The Righteous Brothers (Bill Medley and Bucky Heard), Jan. 15; songstress Linda Eder, Jan. 17; comic Howie Mandel, Jan. 23; The Midtown Men, reuniting four stars from the original Broadway production of Jersey Boys, Jan. 25; “Empress of Soul” Gladys Knight, Jan. 26; and legendary rocker Jerry Lee Lewis, making his Sarasota debut Jan. 27. Rounding out the month are Grammy nominee Tony Orlando, Jan. 28; and Dick Fox’s Golden Boys (Frankie Avalon, Fabian and Bobby Rydell), Jan. 29.
Country star Travis Tritt leads off February in concert, Feb. 5. He’s followed Feb. 6 by The Lords of 52nd Street (Billy Joel’s original band), Feb. 6; and soul and R&B singer Patti LaBelle, Feb. 8. Families will be entertained by the New Shanghai Circus, onstage Feb. 10, and Michael Bolton fans will cheer the singer’s return Feb. 13. Bernadette Peters also returns Feb. 22; The Beach Boys, led by Mike Love and Bruce Johnston, Feb. 25; and seven-time Grammy winner David Foster, a prolific songwriter and performer known for helping to launch the careers of Celine Dion, Josh Groban and Michael Buble, makes his Sarasota bow, Feb. 28.
March offers the ensemble Celtic Woman, March 3, and the Beatles tribute band Rain, March 5. (Most of the month is taken up by performances of the previously announced The Lion King.)
April is the last month booked on the current schedule, presenting Peter Gros from the Original Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom, sharing his animal world April 14; The Music of Cream—50th Anniversary World Tour, April 15; The Second City—It’s Not You, It’s Me, April 16; Menopause the Musical, April 17; Box Scaggs on his “Out of the Blues” tour, April 18; Alan Cumming: Legal Immigrant, April 20; Lea Salonga—The Human Heart tour, April 23; Rosanne Cash and Band with She Remembers Everything, April 25; The Temptations and the Four Tops, April 26; comedian-actress Whoopi Goldberg, April 27; country artists Lee Greenwood and Crystal Gayle, April 28; and finally The Illusionists—Live from Broadway, April 30.
Public on-sale date is Sept. 8; tickets may be purchased at the box office, at vanwezel.org, or by calling (941) 953-3368.