The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall is elated to announce its upcoming 2017-2018 Broadway series!
“I’m now entering my tenth year as Executive Director of the Van Wezel (it seems more like ten months), and I am so honored to bring the dazzling Broadway musical Motown to Sarasota. Sarasota should know that this is only the beginning of a fantastic diverse season of entertainment at the City’s jewel on the Bayfront.” Mary Bensel, Executive Director of the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.
Headlining the Broadway series with eight performances is Motown the Musical, the remarkable true story about the soundtrack that transformed America. The Broadway blockbuster features the timeless hits from legends like Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and The Temptations that touched lives and made history. Taking place (March 27-April 1), the Sarasota premiere is the next chapter of Motown’s incredible history – and an experience you will never forget.
The rest of the 2017-2018 Broadway series features another six remarkable Broadway shows and three great Broadway specials!
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder
January 6 and 7
Getting away with murder can be so much fun… and there is no better proof than the knock-‘em-dead hit show A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder. Winner of the 2014 Tony Award for Best Musical, the show tells the uproarious story of Monty Navarro, heir to a family fortune who sets out to jump the line of succession by eliminating the eight pesky relatives who stand in his way. All the while, Monty juggles his mistress (after more than just love), his fiancée (his cousin but who’s keeping track?), and the constant threat of landing behind bars! As one most gentlemanly NPR critic put it, “I’ve never laughed so hard at a Broadway musical!”
Quote: The Hollywood Reporter raves, “Gentleman’s guide restores our faith in musical comedy” and The New York Times cheers, “It will lift the hearts of all those who’ve been pining for what sometimes seems a lost art form.” Kindly get your tickets now for the musical that will have you dying with laughter.
January 30 and 31
Based on Roundabout Theatre Company’s Tony Award-winning production, Cabaret features the Emcee, Sally Bowles and a raucous ensemble that take the stage nightly to tantalize the crowd – and leave their troubles outside. As life in pre-WWII Germany grows more uncertain, will the decadent allure of Berlin nightlife be enough to get them through? Come to hear some of the most memorable songs in theatre history, including “Cabaret,” “Willkommen” and “Maybe This Time.”
The Wizard of Oz
March 6 and 7
A spectacular celebration of the iconic 1939 MGM film, The Wizard of Oz will blow you away from the moment the tornado touches down and transports you to a dazzling Oz. The entire family will be captivated as they travel down the Yellow Brick Road and beyond with Dorothy, Toto and their friends the Cowardly Lion, Tin Man and Scarecrow in this lavish production, featuring breathtaking special effects, dazzling choreography and classic songs.
Based on the story by James M. Barrie, Peter Pan the 3D Stage Spectacular brings Never Never Land to life like never before. The audience will receive 3D glasses and literally fly with Peter Pan and Wendy to Never Never Land along a journey of breathtaking flying sequences and video rides on a huge panoramic screen. Peter Pan combines never before seen holograms, video-mapping and L.E.D. screens with jaw-dropping acts by 30 performers – including dancers, singers, actors from the London stage, and former Cirque du Soleil acrobats. All in attendance will become the lost children along with the boy who never grows up for 95 minutes of rides and thrills, joyful tears, and excitement.
April 10 through 12
““You feel like you’re on one extended musical ride of fun, nostalgia and poignancy!”
-Jay Handelman, Sarasota Herald-Tribune
Jersey Boys is the Tony, Grammy and Olivier Award-winning Best Musical about Rock and Roll Hall of Famers The Four Seasons: Frankie Valli, Bob Gaudio, Tommy DeVito and Nick Massi. This is the true story of how four blue-collar kids became one of the greatest successes in pop music history. They wrote their own songs, invented their own sounds and sold 175 million records worldwide – all before they were 30! Jersey Boys features their hit songs “Sherry,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Oh What a Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You.” “The Crowd Goes Wild!” proclaims The New York Times
The Jersey Boys creative team comprises two-time Tony Award-winning director Des McAnuff, book writers Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, composer Bob Gaudio, lyricist Bob Crewe and choreography by Sergio Trujillo.
A Chorus Line
April 24 and 25
A Chorus Line is musical theatre in its most pure form! Its celebration and true-to-life depiction of performers and their struggle to achieve greatness on the Broadway stage has earned the show unanimous praise as one of the true masterpieces of live theater. The iconographic stories, simultaneously touching, funny and inspiring, will haunt you long after you leave the theater. A Chorus Line, with its powerful true life stories, is what “American Idol”, “So You Think You Can Dance”, and “The Voice” can only aspire to be – gripping live theater with world famous songs, choreography that’s become part of our popular culture, and imagery that can only be epitomized as “One Singular Sensation” which is A Chorus Line.
Buddy – The Buddy Holly Story tells the true story of Buddy’s meteoric rise to fame, from the moment in 1957 when ‘That’ll be the Day’ hit the airwaves until his tragic death less than two years later on “The Day the Music Died.” The show continues the incredible legacy of the young man with glasses, whose musical career spanned an all-too-brief period during the golden days of rock & roll. Featuring over 20 of Buddy Holly’s greatest hits, Buddy is sure to “send you out of the theater on an unstoppable high” (The Boston Globe).
A Night with Janis Joplin
A Night With Janis Joplin, is a musical journey celebrating Janis and her biggest musical influences—icons like Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Odetta, Nina Simone and Bessie Smith, who inspired one of rock & roll’s greatest legends. The show features a remarkable cast performing such unforgettable songs as “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Piece of My Heart,” “Mercedes Benz,” “Cry Baby,” and “Summertime.”
Like a comet that burns far too brightly to last, Janis Joplin exploded onto the music scene in 1967 and, almost overnight, became the queen of rock & roll. The unmistakable voice, filled with raw emotion and tinged with Southern Comfort, made her a must-see headliner from Monterey to Woodstock.
Neil Berg’s 109 Years of Broadway
Neil Berg returns to the Van Wezel celebrating a record-breaking decade of annual performances with an exciting all new show! 109 Years of Broadway recreates the finest moments from the most memorable shows of the century featuring the actual Broadway stars of shows like Jersey Boys, Wicked, and Mamma Mia! Backed by an excellent New York-based band, Neil Berg presents skillfully revived arrangements of Broadway classics as well as electrifying numbers from Broadway’s freshest hit shows.
The Broadway Series is sponsored by Wilde Lexus of Sarasota and ABC7; The Classical Series is sponsored by WUSF Public Media.
Subscription packages are available for purchase at the box office, or by calling 941-953-3368.