Charlotte finally has a firm date for 2018 with the guy on the $10 bill – 32 of them, to be exact.
“Hamilton,” the hottest Broadway show of the last decade, will come to Belk Theater on its first national tour Oct. 10-Nov. 4, and offer 32 performances.
It will cap a 2017-18 PNC Broadway Lights season that offers nine new shows. For the first time – fittingly, since it’s its 25th anniversary season – BPA has captured a Tony trifecta that’s less than a year old: not just the best musical (“Hamilton”) but the best play (“The Humans”) and the best musical revival (the stripped-down version of “The Color Purple”) of 2016.
“I think Broadway is in a golden era right now,” says Blumenthal president and CEO Tom Gabbard. “That’s partly (led) to creating the biggest season we’ve had. And 19 new musicals will open on Broadway this season, so it won’t be too long before Charlotte gets the benefit from those.”
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“Great,” you’re thinking. “Tell me about ‘Something Rotten’ and ‘Waitress’ and ‘Bright Star’ in a minute. Dish all the dirt on ‘Hamilton’ first.”
It’ll play to about 60,000 people during its four-week run, the longest here since “The Lion King” last pranced through town. The Belk can sell about 16,000 season subscriptions, if it fills every seat in the house for the one-week shows. So after the subscription packages go, even after group sales for individual shows, there’ll be plenty of “Hamilton” tickets for one-time buyers.
Those may not be on your night of choice or in your section of choice, but they’ll exist. And just as in New York, “Hamilton” will have a day-of-show lottery for 40 tickets at $10 each.
The BPA was still negotiating with the show’s producers at press time, so Gabbard doesn’t yet have final prices for subscription ticket packages. (For details, call 704-372-1000 or blumenthalarts.org.) You will be able to buy a package of eight musicals or add “The Humans” at extra cost.
Now, hard as it may be to believe, some Charlotte theater fans don’t care about the show that won 11 Tonys and the Pulitzer Prize for drama. And the 2017-18 lineup has much to appeal to both of those people.
Here’s the scoop on what’s playing, where and when:
“On Your Feet!” – Gabbard compares this to “Jersey Boys”: a popular song catalog wrapped in a compelling personal story about Emilio and Gloria Estefan, Cuban-born immigrants to Florida who created the Miami Sound Machine and crossed over from Latino audiences to music’s mainstream. Throw in her near-fatal auto accident and her father’s secret career working for the U.S. government, and you have more depth than you find in a jukebox musical.
“School of Rock” – Yes, the kids really play those instruments in this adaptation of the 2003 movie about a rock-band reject who poses as a substitute teacher and turns straight-A students into a band capable of shredding. Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote 14 new songs for the show, and Julian (“Downtown Abbey”) Fellowes wrote the book.
“Waitress” – Composer Sara Bareilles, writer Jessie Nelson and director Diane Paulus (who won a Tony for “Pippin”) adapted the sleeper indie hit from 2007, about a waitress who tries to rebuild her life in a small town. Bareilles is about to step into the show on Broadway, but she won’t be touring.
“The Humans” – The ninth show in the larger package, Stephen Karam’s Tony-winning drama takes place when a Pennsylvania patriarch decides to hold the annual Thanksgiving dinner at his daughter’s run-down apartment in lower Manhattan. Knight Theater, smallest of the Blumenthal’s Broadway tour venues, will provide an intimate setting.
“Something Rotten!” – A slightly twisted valentine to theater. The Bottom brothers, desperate to steal the playwriting glory of Shakespeare in the 1590s, misunderstand a soothsayer and try to pre-empt their rival by producing a show called ... “Omelet.” As the soothsayer told them the future of theater involved singing and dancing, they create the world’s first musical.
“Bright Star” – Steve Martin (who has a mountain home in Lake Toxaway) and Edie Brickell created this bluegrass-style musical about love and loss across two generations. It got buried in New York amid the “Hamilton” furor, but Gabbard says, “This show needed to get out on the road.” It will, both through Broadway presenters such as BPA and sponsors such as small professional companies.
“The Color Purple” – Director John Doyle, who strips shows down to essentials, re-mounted this musical on Broadway in 2015 with a wooden backdrop, wooden floor, 17 actors and a few props. The result won a Tony and, says Gabbard, “really is better than the original,” because the story’s powerful emotions come through more clearly.
“Love Never Dies: The Phantom Returns” – Speaking of re-tooling, this sequel to “The Phantom of the Opera” (set 10 years later, with the title character at Coney Island) flopped in England. But composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, undaunted, adjusted it for a successful Australian run and has sent it out across the United States.
“Hamilton” – The season begins and ends with the story of immigrants changing U.S. culture by smarts, perseverance and sheer force of will. But the revolution in this case was not musical but political.
“Les Miserables” – Cops, criminals, creeps, coquettes and college students cross paths in 19th-century France.
“The Phantom of the Opera” – More trouble in Paris, as a deranged composer woos a talented soprano at the opera house he terrorizes.
“Beautiful” – A look at the prolific, hook-writing composer Carole King from 1950s pop tunes to the iconic “Tapestry.”
“The Book of Mormon” – Mormon missionaries in war-torn Africa woo dubious converts through a mix of God and guile.
“The Lion King” – Back to Africa for this story of romance and political struggle, a loose retelling of “Hamlet.”