‘Just you wait’: Walton Arts Center announces new shows while in the midst of current hiatus

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory / Courtesy photo

Here’s a bit of good news, and some much needed good news at that. The Walton Arts Center announced on Monday (March 16) evening that the show(s) will go on – eventually. And that includes the announcement that the hip hop musical sensation “Hamilton” will come to Northwest Arkansas in early 2022, but not before a run of shows beginning later this year.

The Walton Arts Center announces its newest slate of Broadway Series shows this time every year. And for the past several years, it has done so via a splashy, guest-artist-filled announcement show inside the Fayetteville venue. This year’s announcement party was scheduled for Monday night. But, like almost all entertainment/games/travel/life events scheduled in the next six weeks or so, it was called off because of concerns over the spread of coronavirus. Specifically, the Walton Arts Center has paused all events through at least April 5. Information on the shows that will be rescheduled is forthcoming, WAC officials have promised.

Instead of the show format, the announcement was released via a short video that served as a teaser to the events to come. The new offerings begin taking the stage in September – a typical starting time for the first show of the season – and continue through next summer. Included in the six-show season is one of Broadway’s classics, “My Fair Lady,” and five shows making their Arkansas debut.

2020-21 Walton Arts Center Broadway Series

Sept. 15-20 – “My Fair Lady”
Nov. 3-8 – “Mean Girls”
Dec. 15-20 – “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”
March 9-14 – “An Officer and a Gentlemen”
May 11-16 – “Come From Away”
June 1-6 – “Freestyle Love Supreme”

2021-22 Bonus Announcement

Early 2022 – “Hamilton”

Tickets: Season subscriptions are on sale now and start at $278; single passes go on sale this summer.
Info: 479-571-2785 or waltonartscenter.org
Note: Tickets to “Hamilton” are not part of the 2020-21 season package, but rather the 2021-22 season package.

“My Fair Lady” is the first of the shows. It’s the classic story of flower seller Eliza Doolittle, the linguistics professor Henry Higgins and his attempts to turn her into a proper lady. “My Fair Lady” was revived for a Broadway run that began in 2018 and departed for a national tour in late 2019.

The next musical is from the pen of none other than Tina Fey. “Mean Girls” is based off the 2004 movie starring Lindsey Lohan, Rachel McAdams, Amy Poehler and Fey, among others. The concept got an update for the stage and debuted on Broadway in 2018. It would still be running there if Broadway wasn’t temporarily paused, too.

Another musical that finds its inspiration from a film – with original inspiration from the Roald Dahl children’s book – is the newly conceptualized “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” A “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” musical first debuted in London’s West End in 2013 before going through a new set of changes before a 2017 Broadway debut. It’s the second version, with songs such as “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” and “Pure Imagination,” on tour now.

The first show of 2021 will be “An Officer and a Gentlemen.” It too is inspired by a movie – this time the Richard Gere-fronted film from 1982. The musical contains many hits from the 1980s, including the Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes duet “Up Where We Belong,” which was recorded for the movie.

“Come From Away” is a story based on the men and women who found themselves in a small town in Newfoundland in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 and the townspeople who cared for them. When airspace closed, many flights were diverted to Canada, leading to several thousand passengers arriving in a town called Gander. Upon its 2017 Broadway debut, “Come From Away” was nominated for seven Tony Awards.

Mean Girls / Courtesy photo

The final Broadway show of the 2020-21 season is from a set of familiar creators. “Freestyle Love Supreme” comes from Lin-Manuel Miranda, who also wrote and starred in “Hamilton”; Thomas Kail, who won a Tony for directing “Hamilton”; and Anthony Veneziale, an improv innovator and instructor. The show was developed as something of a warmup game for Miranda and collaborators, and it morphed into its own show that eventually made its way to Broadway as well. It too is rooted in hip-hop, but also is based in improvisation. Because of the improv element, no two shows are ever the same.

The other show written by Miranda and directed by Kail – no, not “In the Heights,” either – will come to the Walton Arts Center in spring 2020. No other information about the debut of “Hamilton” in Northwest Arkansas was released, other than to note that season ticket holders for the 2020-21 season who renew for 2021-22 will get the first pass at tickets.

Freestyle Love Supreme / Courtesy photo

Season subscriptions for the Walton Arts Center’s newly announced series of Broadway shows can be secured now. Subscriptions start at $278. Single-session tickets for 2020-21 season shows will begin this summer.

This article is sponsored by First Security Bank. For more great stories of Arkansas food, travel, sports, music and more, visit onlyinark.com.