Although most theaters are at the midpoints of their respective 2015-2016 seasons, announcements of various 2016-2017 seasons are beginning to be distributed, with one of the earliest being Harford’s Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, which recently brought Sirius XM Radio host and Broadway performer and musician Seth Rudetsky to the theater to host the big reveal for subscribers, volunteers and the press.
Featuring performances by members of the current Broadways casts or the upcoming touring casts of several of these shows, Rudetsky shared his knowledge of the Broadway stage and appreciation of the musical scores as he introduced the upcoming season of musicals and plays.
Kicking off the 2016-17 season will be the musical “If/Then,” by the team that won the Pulitzer Prize for the Tony Award winning “Next to Normal” which played the Bushnell several seasons ago. An original musical (one not based on any previous book, film, television show or other medium), “If/Then” follows a contemporary woman through two possible future life paths, creating a moving look at the lives we lead and the possible courses our lives could have taken. “If/Then” will run from August 3-7, 2016.
Next up will be the return to Hartford, but its first time at the Bushnell, of the 2014 Tony Award Winning musical, “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” during the week of October 25-30, 2016. The musical started out at Hartford Stage several years ago prior to its New York debut, where it was also directed by the Hartford Stage’s Artistic Director Darko Tresnjak. This funny, delightful story focuses on the exploits of Monty Navarro, who discovers that he is a distant heir to a family fortune and because of the poor way these relatives treated his mother, he decides to expedite his succession to the family title by doing away with the eight quirky relatives who stand in his way. All eight relatives are played by the same actor, who is an expert at comedy and quick changes. In addition, Monty finds himself involved in a love triangle between his long-time mistress and one of his cousins who becomes his fiancée.
From November 15-30, the Bushnell welcomes the national tour of “An American in Paris,” the Tony Award winning staging of the famous film of the same name. The production features a variety of songs by George and Ira Gershwin, several of which were not in the film, and direction and choreography from acclaimed dancer and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon, in his Broadway directing debut. The story focuses on an American GI who remains in Paris following the end of World War II, a mysterious French girl who is quite reticent about her past, and the coterie of friends that forms around them in the City of Light.
During the week of December 27, 2016 and January 1, 2017, the Bushnell Broadway Series features the sole play on the program, the Tony-Award winning “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Mark Haddon as adapted by playwright Simon Stephens. With dazzling special effects, eye-filling graphics and an extensive cast, the play follows 15-year old Christopher whose remarkable intelligence and limited interactive abilities contributes to a rather unique relationship with everyday life. After being suspected of killing a neighbor’s dog, Christopher embarks on a very deliberate investigation that subsequently reveals a great deal more about his own family’s secrets.
Shortly after the first of the new year, “Beautiful—The Carole King Musical” arrives during the week of January 17-22, 2017, telling the true story of the life of the popular singer-songwriter and her co-writer, her husband Gerry Goffin, their friendship with the songwriting team of Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, and King’s ultimate emergence as one of the most admired solo acts in the music business. Including such songs as “I Feel the Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” and “You’ve Got a Friend,” the musical won two 2014 Tony Awards and a 2015 Grammy for best original cast album.
The revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “The King and I,” which won the 2015 Tony Award as Best Revival of a Musical, sets down at the Bushnell from May 30 to June 4, 2017. Directed by Bartlett Sher, who helmed the memorable revival of “South Pacific” that passed through the Bushnell a number of seasons ago, “The King and I” features such classic songs as “Getting To Know You,” “Whistle a Happy Tune,” “Hello Young Lovers,” and “Shall We Dance,” as it tells of the relationship between the English schoolteacher Anna Leonowens and the progressive thinking King of Siam.
The season concludes from June 20-25, 2017, with the 2015 Tony Award winning Best Musical, “Fun Home,” based upon the graphic memoir Alison Bechdel, and featuring a score and book by Broadway’s first Tony Award winning female composing team of Jeanne Tesori and Lisa Kron. The show features Alison at three points of her life as she looks back upon growing up in eastern Pennsylvania in a household that held several significant secrets. The musical has been hailed as “groundbreaking,” “uplifting” and “exquisite,” as it spins an enthralling tale about learning how to understand one’s parents and moving forward with one’s life.
It was also announced that the smash hit, “The Book of Mormon” would return to Hartford February 14-19, 2017, as an off-subscription offering.
The Bushnell’s President and CEO David Fay indicated that “there is much to appeal to families, Broadway traditionalists, and those who enjoy contemporary theater offerings. I think our season tickets holders and single ticket buyers will be very happy with these award-winning selections.”
Renewal packets are now being distributed to season ticket holders. For those interested in becoming a season ticket subscriber, call the Bushnell Box Office at 860.987.5900. Single tickets will go on sale later on a date to be announced.
In addition, three shows in the current Broadway series are upcoming, including “Motown the Musical,” from March 22-27, 2016, “Matilda,” from April 26 to May 1, and “Dirty Dancing” from May 24-29, 2016. Single tickets for those productions are now on sale, with information available on the Bushnell’s website at www.bushnell.org or through the theater’s Box Office at 860.987.5900.