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Broadway in Detroit announces 2016-17 season
“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” which will play at the end of the year at the Fisher Theater, is the highlight of the 2016-17 Broadway in Detroit season. The touring version of the Broadway hit based on the life of singer-songwriter King is one of five shows offered as part of the subscription series. Tickets are on sale now.
Other productions on tap next season include “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder” (October) and “Fun Home” (November-December), which won Tony Awards for best musical in 2014 and 2015 respectively. The hit revival of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch,” the gender-bending rock musical, is also on the schedule (February-March 2017). A rare non-musical offering arrives next season, too: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” winner of the 2015 Tony for best play, is due at the Fisher in May 2017.
“Baby boomers are definitely our target audience for this new season,” says Al Lichtenstein, longtime executive director for Broadway in Detroit, which brings touring Broadway shows to the Fisher and the Detroit Opera House. The new season will see five instead of the usual six shows as part of the subscription package, with all shows running at the Fisher.
“We use the Opera House when the size of the show demands it,” says Lichtenstein, who noted that off-subscription shows like “The Phantom of the Opera” and “Disney’s The Lion King” will likely play there. “And as always, subscribers will be first to be able to order these tickets once the dates are announced.”
“Motown the Musical,” which traces the history of the Detroit-born record label, will also return as a non-subscription show (April 2017). The hit production features songs, or parts of songs, from Motown stars like the Supremes, the Temptations, Smokey Robinson and the Jackson Five. Other non-subscription shows are "The Book of Mormon" (November), "The Phantom of the Opera" (January 2017) and "The Lion King" (February 2017).
“Beautiful,” a jukebox musical like "Motown," has been praised for showing the transformation of Carole King from a popular songwriter for other artists (the Drifters, the Shirelles, Aretha Franklin, the Monkees) in the 1960s into a music superstar who performed hits like “It’s Too Late,” “So Far Away” and “I Feel the Earth Move” in the early 1970s.
The 2016-17 subscription package lacks a must-see title like “Jersey Boys,” but all the shows come backed by a slew of awards and positive reviews, if not strong name recognition. “I think people will be surprised by shows like `Gentleman’s Guide,’ which is kind of a murder mystery version of `Downton Abbey,’ ” Lichtenstein says.
The upcoming Broadway in Detroit season contrasts with the current one, which was heavy on family-friendly productions. Says Lichtenstein: “It was nice to see so many of our regular subscribers bringing their families, their children and grandchildren to see shows like `Matilda’ and `Newsies.’ ”
There are still a handful of titles left in the current season, including “If/Then” (Tuesday-April 10) and “The Sound of Music” (May 10-22). Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw, the stars of the 1970 movie romance “Love Story," arrive for an April 12-17 run of “Love Letters,” A.R. Gurney's popular two-person drama.
“It’s rare that big stars tour with shows anymore,” says Lichtenstein. “There aren’t the Robert Goulets or Carol Channings that used to draw in the past.”
And when will Detroit see a touring version of “Hamilton,” the unlikely Broadway smash based on the life of Alexander Hamilton?
“As soon as we can get it,” Lichtenstein says. With extended runs planned in Los Angeles and Chicago, he isn’t expecting "Hamilton" here until at least 2019.
Tickets for the 2016-17 subscription series start at $250. Current subscribers can renew now. All others can place orders starting at 10 a.m. Tuesday. For additional information or to place an order, call the Fisher Theatre at 313-872-1000, ex. 0, or go to www.broadwayindetroit.com.
Contact John Monaghan: firstname.lastname@example.org