Van Wezel announces 2014-15 Broadway season and more

Hit musical 'Jersey Boys' to highlight season

mclear@bradenton.comApril 13, 2014 

The one Broadway show Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall patrons clamor for more than any other is on its way. And it's coming for a full week.

"I'm so excited about 'Jersey Boys,' " said Mary Bensel, Van Wezel's executive director. "That's the one show our audiences ask for more than any other, even more than 'Wicked' or 'Phantom of the Opera,' believe it or not."

Bensel points to "Jersey Boys" as the highlight of the 2014-15 Broadway season at Van Wezel, which was announced earlier this week. Season supscriptions are available now; single tickets will go on sale at a later date.

Local "Jersey Boys' fans will have a long wait, though. The show -- the surprisingly compelling rags-to-riches story of the Four Seasons, loaded with re-creations of their innumerable hits -- is not slated to come in until March 10-15 of next year.

It's unusual for a Broadway show to stay at Van Wezel for a week. One or two days is the norm. And the rest of the 2014-15 Broadway season is filled with shorter runs: "Camelot" (Nov. 23), "Smokey Joe's Café" (Dec. 3), "Guys and Dolls" (Dec. 30), "Sister Act" (Jan. 4), "Flashdance" (Jan. 20-21), "Peter and the Starcatcher" (Feb. 12), "Jekyll & Hyde" (March 5) and "Anything Goes" (March 16).

Among the shows that Bensel said she's most excited about are "Peter and the Starcatcher." The acclaimed play, based on a novel by Miami humorist Dave Barry, is a prequel to the story of Peter Pan.

"Smoky Joe's Café" is built around songs by Leiner and Stoller, including "Jailhouse Rock," "Love Potion #9" and "Why Do Fools Fall in Love?" The classic doo-wop group the Coasters star in the show.

"Sister Act" is a musical based on the Whoopi Goldberg film. Its 2011 Broadway incarnation was a huge hit, thanks in part to the music of Alan Menken.

Shows in the "Broadway Specials" series include "Ballroom with a Twist" (Jan. 29), "106 Years of Broadway" (Feb. 5), "Memphis" (April 4) and "Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles" (April 23, 2015).

There are several season ticket packages available. Tickets for all nine shows are available for $320 and up.

Two other packages -- Broadway I ("Camelot," "Smokey Joe's Café" "Guys and Dolls, "Sister Act" and "Jersey Boys") and Broadway II ("Flashdance," "Peter and the Starcatcher," "Jekyll & Hyde," "Jersey Boys" and "Anything Goes" offer discounts of up to 15 percent. Tickets buyers can also create their own package of any four shows and get a discount of up to 10 percent.

Also announced this week were Van Wezel's 2014-15 orchestra and dance seasons.

Bensel said one orchestra performance she's especially excited about is the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra with soloist Brian Stokes Mitchell, (Dec. 11). Mitchell is one of the biggest stars on Broadway these days, best known for lead roles in "Ragtime," "Man of La Mancha" and "Kiss Me Kate."

Also scheduled for the orchestra series are the St. Petersburg State Symphony (Jan. 8) and Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra (Feb. 6).

Orchestra Specials include Celtic Thunder Symphony (Nov. 20), Salute to Vienna (Jan. 3) and Itzhak Perlman (March 21).

Season tickets for the orchestra series start at $90.

The dance series includes a Feb. 17 performance by Alvin Ailey American Dance -- which Bensel cited as her favorite dance company in the world -- as well as Les Ballets Trockadero (Feb. 4), Dancing with the Pros Live (Feb. 16) and the Russian National Ballet (March 3).

There are still plenty of shows yet to be announced, including rock, pop and country concerts.

To subscribe, write to the Van Wezel box office, 777 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34236; visit the box office 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday or 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (and later on show days) Saturday; or call 941-953-3368. After May 1, box office hours will be 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Friday. For a complete schedule go to

Marty Clear, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-708-7919.


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