Broadway announces upcoming season; 'Hamilton' to come through in 2018-19

Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hip Hop recreation of the life of one of America’s Founding Fathers won 11 Tony Awards last June, and it’s been the hottest ticket in New York City for two years.

click to enlarge James Monroe Iglehart in "Aladdin" on Broadway - Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann
Photo: Cylla von Tiedemann
James Monroe Iglehart in "Aladdin" on Broadway
Broadway in Cincinnati has announced the shows it will present at Downtown Cincinnati’s Aronoff Center for its 2017-18 season. If it weren’t for the movies, there would be fewer choices coming our way: Five of the seven productions included in the season are shows inspired by films created between 1983 and 2007.

The season offers an eclectic mix of hits — Wicked and Book of Mormon will return — plus newer successful works. There will be family-friendly shows including Disney’s Aladdin, a December presentation of A Christmas Story for the holidays and a Peter Pan-related tale, Finding Neverland; a couple of newer shows still running on Broadway, Waitress and School of Rock; and several classics that have been recently and successfully revived, Chicago and The King and I. Season subscriptions go on sale today; you can purchase in person at the Aronoff Center’s downtown ticket office (650 Walnut St.), online at broadwayincincinnati.com or by calling the ticket hotline at 800-294-1816 (9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday; noon-5 p.m. Saturday; no Sunday hours).

Here’s a rundown of the productions headed our way, in chronological order:

Wicked (Sept. 13-Oct. 15) returns for its fifth engagement in Cincinnati, this time for five weeks. The Wizard of Oz backstory has to hold some kind of local record for attendance. Its first presentation here was in March 2006 (it opened on Broadway in 2003, where it continues to run, now exceeding 5,500 performances); the most recent tour stop at the Aronoff was in 2013. This presentation is a “special engagement” that’s not part of a season subscription. (Tickets are initially available only to renewed and new season subscribers.)

Finding Neverland (Nov. 7-19) tells the story behind Peter Pan, focusing on playwright J.M. Barrie who needed inspiration to create a children’s classic. He found it in a family with four rambunctious boys and their widowed mother. It’s based on the 2004 film that featured Johnny Depp as Barrie.

A Christmas Story (Dec. 5-10) is a musical based on the 1983 movie about Ralphie’s desperate quest to get a cherished air rifle for Christmas, despite warnings that he’ll shoot his eye out. This one-week run is one option for subscribers to make up their six-show package. The other choice is Chicago (below).

Waitress (Jan. 9-21, 2018), the most recent Broadway production coming to the Aronoff next season (it opened in New York City in April 2016 and continues to be presented there) is the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker who dreams of escaping a claustrophobic small town and a loveless marriage. It’s based on a well-liked 2007 film; this production is staged by director Diane Paulus, who also staged Finding Neverland.

School of Rock (Feb. 21-March 4, 2018) will be the fourth consecutive production with roots in the movies, the story of a wannabe rock star (played by Jack Black in the 2003 film) posing as a substitute teacher who turns a bunch of smart kids into a Rock band. Some theatergoers might be surprised to discover that the show’s music was composed by Andrew Lloyd Webber — the guy who composed Phantom of the Opera and Cats.

Kander and Ebb’s classic musical Chicago (March 20-25, 2018) has been here before, but it’s always welcome. This is a touring version of the show’s Broadway revival that kicked off in 1996 and is still running (it's had nearly 8,400 performances, making it the longest-running American musical in Broadway history). In an interesting reversal of the usual course of events, this musical criminal comedy’s success inspired Rob Marshall’s 2002 Academy Award-winning film. This one-week tour stop is the second option for subscribers to make up their six-show package. The other choice is A Christmas Story (above).

Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The King and I (April 10-22, 2018) takes the prize as the oldest musical coming to the Aronoff next season. It was a Broadway hit in 1951; the story of an unlikely romance between a starchy British schoolteacher and the arrogant King of Siam has been revived on Broadway four times, most recently at the Lincoln Center in 2015. This is a touring version of that much-praised production. It’s a show with numerous classic songs: “Getting to Know You,” “Hello, Young Lovers,” “Shall We Dance” and “Something Wonderful.”

Aladdin (May 29-June 10, 2018) brings Disney’s 1992 animated film to a spectacular live performance. It’s a highly theatrical show with moments of magic, a lot of comedy and dazzling, colorful costumes and sets. This will be a show families are sure to love. It opened on Broadway in 2014 and is still selling lots of tickets after more than 1,200 performances.

The Book of Mormon (July 31-Aug. 5, 2018). For the third time, this hilarious, potty-mouthed (and to some sacrilegious) musical about naïve missionaries in Africa comes back to town for a one-week engagement. It won nine Tony Awards for the guys who also created the South Park animated TV series. Like Wicked, this presentation is another “special engagement” that’s over and above a season subscription. (Tickets are initially available only to renewed and new season subscribers.)

Finally, Broadway in Cincinnati announced that the megahit Broadway musical Hamilton will be part of the 2018-19 season. Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hip Hop recreation of the life of one of America’s Founding Fathers won 11 Tony Awards last June, and it’s been the hottest ticket in New York City for two years, commanding astronomical prices for the few tickets that are occasionally available. A second production opened in Chicago in October, and its tickets are almost as difficult to obtain as those in New York. The touring production that will come to Cincinnati eventually opens in San Francisco in March for a six-month run. It will move on to Los Angeles, San Diego, Houston and Washington, D.C. The tour’s nearest stop during the 2017-18 season will be in Cleveland (no dates posted yet). It will land in Cincinnati sometime in the following year.

Broadway in Cincinnati’s publicity says, “Subscribers who renew for the 18/19 season will be able to guarantee their tickets” for the show’s engagement “before tickets become available to the general public.” Dates and purchase information will be announced at a later date.

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