The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall’s 2010-11 season is almost here.
Get ready for chart-topping music stars, award-winning musicals, laugh-out loud comedies, sophisticated dance, tantalizing orchestra and so much more.
Mary Bensel, executive director of the Van Wezel, couldn’t be more thrilled about the new season, which kicks off Sept. 28 with Crosby, Stills and Nash. Though the concert is already sold out, there’s a waiting list for a few extra tickets that haven’t been spoken for, Bensel said.
Sell-out shows are what Bensel has in mind for the venue this season. Her secret formula for success: “I try to use a really good selection of old favorites and new people coming to the theater, as well as some perennial sell-outs,” Bensel said.
As expected, the purple hall will host a number of celebrated celebrity guests. This year’s guests will be something to talk about — from concert diva Diana Ross, coming Nov. 17, to Regis and Joy Philbin on Jan. 26. The Philbins will host an evening of talk, songs and plenty of antics from Regis.
“I think he’s one of the most creative performers,” Bensel said. “He’s one of
those performers that everyone feels like they know and love.”
Who can follow that? Perhaps Bob Newhart with special guest Deana Martin, or maybe Shirley MacLaine — look for all of them in February.
During the season, patrons can also look forward to a big dose of Broadway blockbusters with the local premieres of “Legally Blonde — The Musical,” “The Color Purple,” Monty Python’s “Spamalot” and “Spring Awakening,” a musical that is sure to attract young adults, Bensel said.
The Van Wezel hopes you spend the holidays with it for the music-filled “The Twelve Days of Christmas starring Amy Grant and Vince Gill,” the classic “A Christmas Carol” and Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker.”
More featured events sure to spark interest are Celebrity Autobiography, Mummenschanz and Tango Buenos Aires.
With Mummenschanz — coming in November — audiences will rediscover the classic art of miming through an entertaining 33-year retrospective.
Celebrity Autobiography — coming in January — will draw attention for its comedic appeal as an ensemble of celebrities present the memoirs of other larger-than-life stars in the hall’s grand foyer. The show reveals everything from how Vanna White made an art form out of flipping those panels on “Wheel of Fortune” to why the Jonas Brothers never seem to have any sibling rivalry.
The frills of Tango Buenos Aires will heat up the Van Wezel stage in March with passionate and seductive dance.
Remember last year’s guest, The Capitol Steps? This season, the hall welcomes Canada’s answer to the political comics — Arrogant Worms. Watch for them in January.
And that’s still not all. On the music side of things, the Van Wezel has several treats planned for a range of tastes. They include Diana Krall — a big ticket seller — Kenny Loggins, Patti LaBelle, Michael Bolton, special Van Wezel gala guest performer Dionne Warwick, Clay Aiken and Three Dog Night, to name a few.
Orchestra lovers can get their fill with the Philharmonic of Poland, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the Boston Pops Esplanade Orchestra.
Patrons should keep their eyes and ears open for more special entertainment announcements during the season, as Bensel has a few other big celebrities she’s hoping to bring to the venue.
In the meantime, there’s plenty of things to enjoy including returning acts such as Mannheim Steamroller, the witty Bill Cosby, Garrison Keillor, songbird Natalie Cole and comic Dame Edna, who dazzled audiences last year at the hall with “My First Last Tour.”
“I knew it wouldn’t be the last tour,” Bensel said of Dame Edna. “This is one of those people who can’t stay off the stage.”