National tours of two Broadway smashes, the musical "Book of Mormon," and the epic play featuring life-sized puppetry, "War Horse," highlight the seven-show 2013-14 season at Hartford's Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts.
Those two shows, Tony Award-winners for best play and musical, have been touring the country and arrive in the Connecticut market in the second year of national tours. The theatrical blockbusters are expected to be the big draws in a series that includes a musical the Bushnell is co-producing, a holiday show, two recent Broadway short-lived shows, and a musical that has yet to play New York.
The season will open Sept. 16 to 22 with a revival of "Miss Saigon," which is being produced by a consortium of four presenting houses, including the Bushnell. The Bushnell previously produced "Greater Tuna" and "The Music Man." for its stage. National tours of "Miss Saigon" have played the Bushnell in previous seasons. The musical opened in London and movied to Broadway in 1991 and ran for 10 years.
The production is directed by Fred Hanson, who was associate director to Nicholas Hytner on the original production of "Miss Saigon," and on the revival of "Carousel." He staged touring productions for both shows. Choreography is e by Baayork Lee ("A Chorus LineKevin Stites is the music directer. Stites.The production will launch in Kansas City, then play Hartford, Detroit and St. Paul.
"Flashdance" follows Oct. 14-20. It's based on the 1983 film starring Jennifer Beals and Michael Nouri.
Though holiday offerings are usually off-subscription, the musical "A Christmas Story," which had a popular and profitable Broadway run late last year, will be part of the Broadway series, playing Nov. 12 to 17. The show is based on the 1983 cult film that starred Peter Billingsley as a boy growing up in the '40s who was obsessed with getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas. Benj Pasek and Justin Paul did music and lyrics for the musicial. (They worked on Goodspeed's "James and the Giant Peach.") Billingsley is one of the producers.
The new year will open with the run of "War Horse," Jan. 28-Feb. 2. It was was a sensation when it opened at London's National Theatre and then again at New York's Lincoln Center in 2011 where it ran until Jan. 6, 2013.
The production, based on a 1982 children's book by Michael Morpurgo, uses horse-sized puppets, designed by Adrian Kohler and Basil Jones for South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company. (The puppetry team will next create designs for a production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" which will have its U.S. premiere at New Haven's International Festival for Arts & Ideas in June.)
Steven Spielberg turned "War Horse" into a film in 2011, using real horses.
The touring production of "Peter and the Starcatcher" follows Feb. 18 to 23. The show with music, which ended its Broadway run last month but is continuing in an off-Broadway venue, is a prequel to the story of Peter Pan, based on the book by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson.
What is sure to be the hottest ticket of the season, "The Book of Mormon," will play the season's only longer run, March 18 to 30. The irreverent show is scatological and sweet, with book, music and lyrics by Matt Stone and Trey Parker, (creators of TV's "South Park") and Robert Lopez (composer of "Avenue Q").
The subscription series will wind up June 10-15, with the musical "Ghost The Musical" based on the 1990 film starring Demi Moore, Patrick Swayze and Whoopi Goldberg. (Goldberg won an Oscar for supporting actress as the psychic, Oda Mae Brown. That part was played on Broadway by Yale School of Drama grad, Da'Vine Joy Randolph). The show ran in London first, then on Broadway, closing after 136 performances. It is the third musical of the series based on a popular film.
Casting has not been announced for any of the shows and it appears that there won't be any above-the-title, star-driven tours this season.
There will also be one off-subscription offering: a return of the Disney musical, "Beauty and the Beast," which will play at the theater May 13-18.
All shows will be presented at the 2,800-seat Mortensen Hall.
Subscription renewals will be available mid-March. New subscriptions will be accepted in June. Single tickets will go on sale at the end of summer. Exact dates still to be announced by The Bushnell.
Information: 860-987-5900 and www.bushnell.org.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun