BY MELISSA RUGGIERI/AJC Music Scene
As Evan Hansen might say, words fail to describe the impressive lineup set for the 2018-19 Fifth Third Bank Broadway in Atlanta season.
Topped by last year’s best musical Tony winner, the sensitive “Dear Evan Hansen,” the rundown also features Disney’s “Aladdin,” “Come From Away,” “Waitress,” “School of Rock — The Musical,” “Cats,” Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” and a series option, “Les Miserables.”
Many of the shows are Atlanta debuts, including “School of Rock,” the Andrew Lloyd Webber hit that spotlights the precocious musical talents of its cast of youngsters.
At Clive Davis’ Pre-Grammy Gala last month, Lloyd Webber chatted about the show for a few minutes on the red carpet.
“It takes me right back to my early days with ‘Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat’ (first presented in 1969) when I was working with kids. It’s really about the empowering force of music — and kids. We have quite a (cast) turnover (on Broadway). As soon as they get to be 11 or 12, voices break and we have to say regrettably, goodbye,” he said with a chuckle. “But (the kids) can really rock out. I think they’ll probably grow up to be musicians.”
Season ticket-holder renewal onsales begin at 11 a.m. Feb. 15. New subscriptions are expected to go on sale in mid-April with prices starting at $239 for the seven-show series (prices vary depending on seat location and showtime/day of the week). Subscribers can also purchase their same subscription seats for the season option “Les Miserables” before March 16. Visit www.BroadwayInAtlanta.com/Season for more information.
Single-show tickets typically go on sale about two or three months prior to opening night.
Here is a look at the 2018-19 lineup:
Disney’s “Aladdin” (Sept. 12-23): It comes from the producer of “The Lion King,” so obviously, the visuals will dazzle. The Broadway show, a hit since 2014, is based on the 1992 film; at its Los Angeles debut earlier this year, The Hollywood Reporter's Deborah Wilker called it a “swift two-hour extravaganza” that is “shining, shimmering, splendid.”
“School of Rock – The Musical” (Oct. 16-21): Based on the 2003 film of the same name, the live production spares us Jack Black, but thankfully cedes the spotlight to the insanely talented crop of young musicians who play their instruments live on stage. The show features 14 new songs from creator Andrew Lloyd Webber, as well as all of the original songs from the movie.
Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” (Nov. 27-Dec. 2): Along with the legendary title song, this musical also features some of the storied songwriter’s most memorable work (“Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep” and “Happy Holiday,”
cq among them). In between the songs is a story about two showbiz buddies who put on a show at a Vermont inn and try to find their perfect mates.
“Waitress” (Feb. 5-10, 2019): With original music and lyrics by pop singer Sara Bareilles (“Brave,” “Love Song”) and a book by Jessie Nelson (“I Am Sam”), it’s no surprise the musical based on Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film of the same name is rolling on Broadway. It’s the story of pie-making waitress Jenna, who yearns to escape her small town and loveless marriage and manages to be clever between the clichés. Also, Bareilles’ songs are magnificent.
“Les Miserables” (Feb. 26-March 3, 2019 — Season Option): The grand spectacle has made several appearances in Atlanta over the years, but this is the newly reimagined version of the show presented by Cameron Mackintosh that comes directly from a two-and-a-half-year return to Broadway. More than 70 million people in 44 countries have had their hearts stirred by “One More Day” and “On My Own” as the musical heads into its 32nd year.
“Dear Evan Hansen” (April 23-28, 2019): Those six Tonys earned last year, including best musical, AND its Grammy Award for best musical theater album were more than deserved for this fresh, sweet heart-tugger. It’s easy to cast judgment on Evan Hansen’s tangled web of lies, but that they’re sprung from a place of deep loneliness makes it even easier to understand him. The excellent score comes from “La La Land” and “The Greatest Showman” musical creators Benj Pasek and Justin Paul.
“Come From Away” (June 25-30, 2019): It will restore your faith in humanity to witness the true tale of what happened when more than 7,000 airplane passengers were stranded in the tiny town of Gander, Newfoundland, in the hours and days following 9/11. Christopher Ashley, who won the Tony last year for best direction of a musical of the heartfelt “Come From Away,” is back on Broadway this season with Jimmy Buffett’s “Escape to Margaritaville.”
“Cats” (Aug. 6-11, 2019): Theater purists love to use this Andrew Lloyd Webber record-breaker as a punchline, but there is no denying the magic of “Memory,” regardless of your feelings about Grizabella. The seven-time Tony winner comes equipped with new lighting design, fresh choreography and improved sound design — the better to hear those Jellicle cats as they swish down the aisles.