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The Hippodrome Theatre announced their 2017-2018 season. (Baltimore Sun video)

Call it the pre-"Hamilton" season.

The gaga-hit musical will finally reach Baltimore during the Hippodrome Theatre's 2018-2019 season, and subscribers to the theater's 2017-2018 lineup, announced Wednesday, will be first in line for tickets.

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"We're not saying you have to subscribe to get tickets to 'Hamilton';  we're saying it's the best way to get tickets," says Ron Legler, president of the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, home of the Hippodrome.

While they're waiting for that momentous arrival, Hippodrome patrons should find plenty of high-profile diversions next season, which includes six popular musicals that are currently on Broadway or recently wrapped up their runs there.

The season also promises the country's first look at the sequel to Andrew Lloyd Webber's "The Phantom of the Opera."

That sequel, "Love Never Dies," opens the 2017-2018 Hippodrome season Sept. 19 to 24 in what is billed as a "special preview engagement."

"We will be the first week of the production in the United States, before it opens [in Washington]" Legler says. "I absolutely think 'Love Never Dies' will end up on Broadway. It's so beautiful."

With a plot set in Coney Island 10 years after the masked man disappeared at the conclusion of "Phantom," the musical drew mostly negative attention after its first staging in 2010 in London. But a reworked version in Australia the next year found much more favor; that version is the one heading here.

"The Color Purple," which won the 2016 Tony Award for best musical revival, had its final Broadway performance Jan. 8. It will play the Hippodrome on Oct. 17 to 22. The revival won wide praise for its streamlined approach.

"This production really gets to the core of the story," Legler says.

After highly successful visits in 2005 and 2011, "The Lion King" will hold court at the Hippodrome again, Nov. 16 to Dec. 10.

"To me, it's about introducing the show to the next generation of kids who first fell in love with the animated version," Legler says. "And it's a great show to kick off the holiday season for us. We'll have a special Friday matinee the day after Thanksgiving."

Based on the 2007 film of the same name about a woman's path out of an unhappy marriage, the musical "Waitress" has been a solid seller on Broadway since opening last spring. The first national tour will include a stop at the Hippodrome on Jan. 30 to Feb. 4, 2018.

Life has not yet returned to normal for actor and musician Leslie Odom Jr., the Tony Award-winning actor for his role as Aaron Burr in "Hamilton."

The season's second Andrew Lloyd Webber musical, "School of Rock," is still going strong on Broadway. The touring production of the show, based on the 2003 movie about a down-on-his-luck rocker who masquerades as a substitute teacher and unleashes a whole lot of untapped talent in the kids, is booked March 20 to 25, 2018.

Another cinematically based work, "An American in Paris," will arrive in  the spring — May 1 to 6, 2018.

Inspired by the Academy Award-winning 1951 movie, the musical spins a story about an American soldier and a French ballerina in post-war Paris. The score features classic songs by George and Ira Gershwin. The show, which earned a Tony Award for actor Robert Fairchild, closed on Broadway in October.

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"This is one of my personal favorites," Legler says. "It's such a lush, lush production. It's going to be one of the most beautiful productions we've put in the Hippodrome. And the choreography is some of the best I've ever seen. I hope it will spark more excitement for the dance in Baltimore."

Dancing to a different kind of beat will round out the season when "On Your Feet" visits June 5 to 10, 2018. This bio/jukebox musical is about Cuban-American singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan.

"The is one of the most fun shows on Broadway right now," Legler says. "People get up in the aisles and dance. It's the best way to end our season. With the current political climate and everything else going on, it's a season that will let you escape and sit with 2,200 other people enjoying the world of Broadway here in Baltimore. I think there will be a stronger need for all of that."

For more information on the Hippodrome's 2017-2018 season, call
800-343-3103, or go to baltimorehippodrome.com. Season subscriptions are on sale now.

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