“The most exciting part for me is the surprises. I can’t wait to see how our audiences respond to these amazing shows!”
So said Gina Vernaci, Executive Producer of Playhouse Square, after yesterday’s big launch of their upcoming 2016-2017 KeyBank Broadway Series. Last night, the Connor Palace was packed with theater geeks (er, devotees) who were awaiting the gifts of touring shows that Vernaci was announcing.
And the fans weren’t disappointed, because Vernaci unwrapped a fantastic new season of seven shows that will delight anyone who’s been following Broadway for the past couple years, or the past seven decades.
Here’s a quick look at the line-up starting in October:
Based on the graphic (meaning cartoon) memoir by Alison Bechdel, this 2015 Tony Award winner for Best Musical explores the author’s awakening as a lesbian and her relationship with her gay dad. The wonderful music is composed by the gloriously talented Jeanine Tesori.
November brings us this musical that tells the story behind Peter Pan. It seems the people who make theater never tire of this story (see: Peter and the Starcatcher), but this show, as originally directed by Tony winner Diane Paulus, promises to offer some real stage magic.
Into the Woods
This is the only title on the list, slated for January 2017, that doesn’t immediately sparkle. After all, the wonderful James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim show has been done around our town for many years. But there may be more “surprises” in store, since this will be the inventively stripped-down Fiasco Theatre production that recently garnered raves in New York.
The King and I
Yes, the bald dude and the feisty teacher are back next February, reprising the show that opened on Broadway in 1951 with Yul Brynner and Gertrude Lawrence. This is a Rogers and Hammerstein classic, featuring a sumptuous set and lavish costumes. Oh, yeah.
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time
It’s based on a great book, and word has it the play is completely engrossing. It whirls around a teenager with massive smarts and some social issues who’s suspected of killing a neighbor’s dog. (The video clips of the show look astounding.) Scheduled for exactly a year from now.
A Broadway comedy romp featuring two brothers from the 1500’s who want to write a play but are intimidated by some guy named Shakespeare. So they invent the musical! What? People start singing? For no reason?! (April-May, 2017)
An American in Paris
The songs of George and Ira Gershwin set in Paris after World War II. Plus romance! How can you miss? (June-July, 2017)
The other big news is that each show will have a full three-week run, up from the current two weeks. This puts the Cleveland tour stop on the level of the big cities. And no wonder, since Playhouse Square has led the nation in season ticket holders (32,000) for three years in a row. With the expanded schedule, that means there will be 56 more shows during the season and potentially 100,000 more visitors to the Cleveland restaurants and stores.
As Vernaci notes, “Next season will be historical for Playhouse Square in more ways than one. Along with the great Broadway Series, the Ohio Theater will re-open to show off its spectacular $5.3 million renovation—all based on the architect’s original drawings."
Once again, Playhouse Square is doing its share in leading the way in downtown Cleveland.
For subscription information about the KeyBank Broadway Series 2016-2017, call 216-640-8800.