2020/21 ASU Gammage and Tucson Broadway Season Announcements

Theater Review – March 22, 2020


Broadway Across America, ASU Gammage, Tempe, AZ and
Broadway in Tucson, Centennial Hall, Tucson, AZ

The two 2020/2021 Broadway in Arizona seasons of touring shows has been announced.  Interestingly, many of the shows in the two cities are the same, an occurrence that has only occasionally happened in past seasons.  The ASU Gammage season usually gets the touring Broadway shows at least one season before Tucson but the new seasons share five shows.

The Tempe season does feature the Broadway hit “Frozen,” a major Broadway revival of “Oklahoma,” and the New York hit play “To Kill a Mockingbird” that Tucson will not see.  The Tempe season has also been extended to eight touring shows instead of the usual seven shows and both cities feature a different optional returning attraction.  Tempe gets “Jersey Boys” (May 21-23) while Tucson has “Hairspray” (March 26-28).  The Tempe season features one star, Richard Thomas, who will duplicate Jeff Daniels’ star turn on Broadway.  It will be interesting to see if Thomas can bring to the stage adaptation of Harper Lee’s prize-winning novel the same power it had on Broadway.

The ASU Gammage’s Broadway season starts with “The Band’s Visit” (September 15-20) that was a big Broadway phenomenon for its score with onstage musicians banging out tunes that are reported to “makes us laugh, makes us cry, and ultimately, brings us together.”  Then is the return of the smash Broadway hit “Hamilton” which will play a lengthy beginning on October 13 with no ending date announced.

The Broadway revival of Rodgers and Hammerstein’s first show, “Oklahoma” (December 1-6),  included some unusual casting on Broadway including the first wheelchair bound cast member and some rethinking and re-imagining that updates the popular show to contemporary times.  The 2019 Tony Award for Best Musical went to “Hadestown” (January 12-17) that is billed as “a haunting and hopeful theatrical experience that grabs you and never lets go.”

The Lincoln Center revival of Lerner and Loewe’s fabled “My Fair Lady” (February 9-14) is supposed to justify this musical’s place as a top American musical theater classic.  Let’s hope the tour’s cast duplicates the Broadway revival’s flawless performances.  “Tootsie” (March 16-21) is a reported weak musical conversion of the popular Dustin Hoffman film comedy about a male actor who becomes a woman to secure a job.

“Frozen” (April 8-25) is the successful Broadway adaptation of the film and is masterminded by Disney who adapted past hits for the stage including “The Lion King,” “Aladdin,” and “Beauty and the Beast.”  Marked for family audiences, “Frozen” will play an extended two plus week engagement.  The season closes with Aaron Sorkin’s play adaptation of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and successful film “To Kill A Mockingbird” (June 8-13).  With this play, one hopes an excellent sound system is employed by the tour so that the acoustically challenging ASU Gammage sound will allow every word to be clearly understood, a critical necessity for any play.

As for the large number of shows playing on both the Tempe and Tucson Broadway seasons, Tempe will see “The Band’s Visit,” “Hamilton,” and “Tootsie” before Tucson but Arizona’s second city will see both “Hadestown” and the “My Fair Lady” revival before Tempe.  Tucson’s final show, “Pretty Woman: The Musical” (May 25-30) is the only musical Tucson will see that Tempe won’t.  Tucson has also announced that the 2021/2022 Broadway season will include “Dear Evan Hansen” and a return of “The Lion King,” both shows that Tempe has featured in the past.

Tempe season tickets are available through April 10 for renewing subscribers and then will be available to new subscribers.  For season tickets, contact the ASU Gammage box office at 480-965-3434 or order tickets online at www.asugammage.com.  Since the Tempe subscription is almost completely sold-out from past subscribers and since ASU Gammage has been unwilling to chance a second week, new subscribers will have a challenge securing tickets.  Phoenix, America’s fifth largest city in a top 20 metropolitan area hosts the largest single week Broadway series for a town its size.  Smaller locales like Cincinnati, Seattle, and Minneapolis all have touring Broadway shows for two or more weeks.  Our one-week runs for Broadway shows compares to smaller and less culturally alive cities like Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Salt Lake City.