2024/25 Broadway Across America – Arizona Season Announcement

Theater Commentary – March 5, 2024

LOCAL 24/25 BROADWAY SEASON SKIPS SEVERAL RECENT SHOWS BUT INCLUDES A MAJOR MUSICAL HIT

2024/25 Broadway Across America – Arizona Season Announcement
Broadway Across America – Arizona, ASU Gammage
Tempe, AZ

By Chris Curcio
Theater Critic

The 2024/25 Broadway Across America – Arizona season announcement had some surprises and unexpected shows.  The season will include the huge Broadway hit “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” but why it took that show so long to play locally remains unanswered.  The season includes several recent Broadway hits that are touring but it also excludes major shows that are playing on most 2024/25 Broadway Across America seasons.

Local audiences will get seven touring productions of Broadway musicals plus one play with each show presented for one week at ASU Gammage.  One show that has played here several times will be in town for four weeks with the first week included on subscription. One returning show is also included but it is an option for season subscribers.

The shows that will appear locally include “Girl from the North Country” (August 20-26, 2024), “Mrs. Doubtfire” (September 17-22, 2024), the “Funny Girl” revival (October 15-20), “Kimberly Akimbo” (December 3-8, 2024), “Some Like It Hot” (February 11-16, 2025) based on the popular Jack Lemon/Tony Curtis 1959 film, “Wicked” (March 4-30, 2025), and “Moulin Rouge! The Musical” (July 22-August 3, 2025).  The play will be “Life of Pi” (June 17-22, 2025).  The returning show will be “Mamma Mia!” (May 27-June 1, 2025).

It is interesting that many recent Broadway musical hits will play most cities but not here.  These shows are “Shucked,” “& Juliet, “Back to the Future,” “A Beautiful Noise, The Neil Diamond Musical,” “Parade,” and Stephen Sondheim’s “Company” revival.  Maybe these musicals will show up on the 2025/26 season. Two Broadway disasters  – “Girl from the North Country” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” – are included.

ASU Gammage, the 60 plus-year-old Frank Lloyd Wright designed concert hall, has terrible acoustics for Broadway musicals and plays so hearing lyrics of any of the scheduled shows will be a serious challenge. Sightlines for Broadway shows at ASU Gammage are also awful because concert venues do not support seeing big and scenically complex Broadway musicals.

Since the touring shows only play a week, with two exceptions, and subscribers purchase over 90 percent of the tickets, new theatergoers are out of luck. Phoenix is the largest city and metropolitan area in the nation that only plays Broadway tours for one week. The local Broadway season is determined by Broadway Across America which books national tours in cities throughout the nation including Tempe.

The current Broadway in Tucson season presented at the University of Arizona’s Centennial Hall by the Nederlander organization includes two shows appearing on the next Tempe Broadway season. That city’s 2024/25 Broadway season hasn’t yet been announced but will be soon. Expect some, if not all, of the same shows playing ASU Gammage to be included.

Too bad Phoenix doesn’t have another 2,500 to 3,000 seat venue where the local Broadway season could be better presented.  Why was the downtown Phoenix Fox Theatre torn down in the ‘70s instead of being renovated with the small vaudeville stage expanded to properly host touring Broadway productions? Call it the usual lack of foresight by local leaders who rarely give the performing arts any consideration.  The downtown Arizona Federal Theater (formerly called among other names The Dodge Theatre) tried Broadway shows when it first opened but cost cutting during construction destroyed that venue for Broadway tours.

Local audiences should be content that most major Broadway tours stop here at all in an inappropriate concert hall venue!