Photo: Evan Zimmerman
Would anyone show up to watch a show about shows? If the show in question is about the Broadway offerings coming to the Walton Arts Center between the end of this year and midway through 2020, the answer is yes – several hundred would.
2018-19 Walton Arts Center Broadway Series
Oct. 22-27 – “Escape to Margaritaville”
Nov. 12-17 – “The Play That Goes Wrong”
Dec. 10-15 – “A Christmas Story: The Musical”
Feb. 11-16, 2020 – “Once on This Island”
March 10-15, 2020 – “Anastasia”
April 14-19, 2020 – “Fiddler on the Roof”
May 19-23, 2020 – “The Band’s Visit”
September 12-18 – Blue Man Group
July 21-26 – “The Book of Mormon”
For the third year in a row, Walton Arts Center staff members opted for an onstage presentation to reveal its Broadway Series. Clips from the musicals were shown on a large screen, and audience members got to see Walton Arts Center president and chief executive officer Peter Lane dressed in a pink bunny suit. About 700 people showed up to watch the unveiling ceremony, which included performances from Little Rock native Taylor Quick (performing a number from “Anastasia”) and Courtnee Carter (singing from “Once on this Island”).
Announced on Monday (March 11) were a total of nine shows, seven in the main Broadway Series and another two that season subscribers can buy tickets for when they buy or renew their subscription. Six of the shows will be making their Arkansas debut when they come to Fayetteville. Another is technically new – it might come from old favorites the Blue Man Group, but the material presented here will be all new, family-friendly content. Because the production will be doing its main technical rehearsal in Northwest Arkansas, local audiences will be the first to ever see the show.
‘New’ is a central tenet of the upcoming Walton Arts Center season. Two of the more acclaimed shows are leaving Broadway for national tours, and the Walton Arts Center is among the stops on the first run. One of them, “The Band’s Visit,” earned 10 Tony Awards in 2018, including Best Musical, Best Actor and Best Actress. It tells the story of an Egyptian band that mistakenly travels to a desert community in Israel and gets stranded there.
Also on its first national tour following its time on Broadway is the revival of “Once on This Island,” which takes audience members to a Caribbean Island where a peasant girl uses the power of love to bring people together. The show won the Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical in 2018. The cast recording was nominated for a 2019 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album but lost to “The Band’s Visit.”
Other new-to-Arkansas shows include the jukebox musical “Escape to Margaritaville,” which features the songs of Jimmy Buffett; “The Play That Goes Wrong,” a British farce about a theater company that just can’t get it right; “A Christmas Story: The Musical,” which moves the 1983 holiday classic movie to the stage; and “Anastasia,” which imagines a world where the Russian grand duchess might have survived the assassination that killed the rest of her family.
Rounding out the season is a classic of Broadway, and one that’s made previous stops at the Walton Arts Center. “Fiddler on the Roof,” the show about a family that must balance tradition and love against the backdrop of religious persecution, visits in April 2020.
The final of the shows announced Monday is making a return as well. “The Book of Mormon,” an outrageous show from the creators of “South Park” about traveling church missionaries, comes back as an add-on performance outside of the main Broadway roster. It last came to Fayetteville in late 2016.
Season subscriptions, which offer patrons a ticket to each of the seven official Broadway Series productions, are available now through the Walton Arts Center box office. Information about subscriptions can be found at waltonartscenter.org or by calling 479-571-2785. Season subscriptions range in price from $316 to $515, depending on which night of the show’s run is selected.
The Walton Arts Center will announce a series of comedy, jazz, children’s programming and other offerings later this summer. The sale of Create-Your-Own Subscription packages will follow that announcement, and single-session tickets will be made available several weeks later.