Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall Announces 2020-21 Series

The hall forges ahead with a lineup of Broadway shows, classical music, dance and more.

By Kay Kipling April 27, 2020

Ryan Umbarila as Charlie Bucket in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Image: Jeremy Daniel

The city-owned Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall may have its doors closed to audiences right now due to COVID-19, but that hasn’t kept executive director Mary Bensel from planning ahead for the 2020-21 season.

The hall, which marked its 50th anniversary over this past season, has announced the shows, performers and concerts that will bring the auditorium to life again once the restrictions due to the pandemic lift. A few shows are ones rescheduled after cancellation over the past few weeks, but many new dates for Broadway touring shows, classical music and more have also been revealed.

First up: the hall’s popular Broadway Series, which has been expanding show run dates over the past several years and continues to do so for 2020-21. Come From Away, the musical set in Newfoundland after 9/11, which was to have played at the hall this week, will now take the stage Nov. 24-29. It’s followed by the razzle-dazzle Kander-Ebb hit Chicago, Dec. 12 and 13; a 50th anniversary tour of the rock musical Jesus Christ Superstar, Dec. 29-Jan. 3; and a new musical based on the film An Officer and A Gentleman, featuring the Grammy-winning single from that film, “Up Where We Belong” and a host of 1980s tunes, playing here Jan. 5 and 6.

The musical An Officer and a Gentleman comes to the Van Wezel Jan. 5 and 6, 2021.

Also showing in the Broadway lineup will be an adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Jan. 17; Summer: The Donna Summer Musical, Feb. 9 and 10, showcasing the songstress’ hits including “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff”; the Sarasota premiere of the unique Blue Man Group, Feb. 22-24; the return of the Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons musical, Jersey Boys, Feb. 26-28; and another Sarasota premiere, of the musical Anastasia, March 23-28, with music by Stephen Flaherty and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens.

The musical Anastasia has its Sarasota premiere March 23-28.

The Rodgers-Hammerstein classic South Pacific bows March 29 and 20; Irish dancing sensation Riverdance marks its 25th anniversary with performances April 23-25; and Fiddler on the Roof (which was the show that opened the brand-new hall back in 1970) brings Tevye and his daughters back to the stage, April 27-29.

The hall’s Classical Series kicks off with the annual Salute to Vienna New Year’s Concert, Jan. 4, before welcoming singer Renee Fleming, Jan. 13; the Israel Symphony Orchestra, Jan. 19; violinist Itzhak Perlman in recital, March 8; and pianist Lang Lang, March 11.

Announced in the dance category are Tango Fire, Jan. 27; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Feb. 16 and 17; and the Russian National Ballet’s production of Swan Lake, March 22.

A few special events are also set for the season: Kathleen Turner: Finding My Voice takes audiences on a behind-the-scenes journey over the actress’s career, peppered with songs from the great American songbook (Jan. 20); The Choir of Man (originally planned for this past season) mixes pub tunes, folk, Broadway and classic rock music in a pub crawl of a concert, Jan. 28; producer Neil Berg and Broadway performers return with 112 Years of Broadway, Feb. 2; a concert-style show tells The Simon and Garfunkel Story, Feb. 12; and percussion dance sensation Stomp is back with two shows on March 7.

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