Yowza! Wait til you see what's coming to RiverCenter for the Performing Arts for the 2010-11 season. The Broadway on Broadway season is its strongest one yet. I really, truly believe it.
It opens with "Legally Blonde," followed by "The Color Purple," "Disney's Beauty and the Beast," "Grease" and end ends with "Monty Python's Spamalot."
You can't ask for a better slate of shows.
The Center Stage Classics series features an up-and-coming tenor, Nicholas Phan. Ladies, he's pretty easy on the eyes. Half Greek and half Chinese. Phan opens the season, followed by "Christmas with the King's Singers and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra," "A Cantus Columbus," the Aquila Theatre Co.'s "A Midsummer Night's Dream," the State Symphony of Russia and the Moscow Festival Ballet's "Romeo and Juliet."
The Center Stage Variety series opens with "An Evening with Emile Pandolfi." Mr. Pandolfi is a fine pianist who loves to tell stories in between playing. He's a favorite of a very prominent woman in town, and he's performed in several sold-out concerts in Legacy Hall. He's returning, this time to play in the Bill Heard Theatre. After that concert, it's time for another favorite -- "The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller." The group's 2008 concert sold out, so if you want tickets, I recommend you go ahead and make arrangements to buy some now. That's followed by another requested show, "Drumline Live!" I got to see that show, also during the 2008 season. It was so good that I told then RiverCenter executive director Enoch Morris that if he brought it back, it would sell out. Enoch, as you probably know, left RiverCenter in mid-season, replaced by Bill Bullock. Again, if you want to see this show, I'd recommend you make arrangements to buy tickets now. It's followed by "An Evening with Lucille Ball." The folks at RiverCenter say this is a great show, directed by Lucy's daughter, Lucie Arnaz, and starring look-alike Suzanne LaRusch. It features the family's home videos and photos never seen in public. The final show is the Del McCoury Band with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
See what I mean?
The children's Discovery series isn't half-bad either. It opens with "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Other Story Books," followed by the African Children's Choir. This choir is made up of children from some of the most poverty-stricken places in the world. This tour gives them an opportunity to travel around the world and tour proceeds allow them to go to school to break out of the cycle of poverty. What a wonderful thing! And this is great. You know when you go to see a show, and a toddler is being unruly? You wonder why parents couldn't finda babysitter. I mean, I love children, but sometimes ... For "Disney's Beauty and the Beast," RiverCenter has set aside a performance that they call the "family night preview." It's a great time to introduce children to live theater and maybe not annoy adults who don't have children. I know that's not coming out right, but I've been to shows that are geared for children and some of them just get too antsy sitting for a full show. So I've warned you adults. This particular night is the FAMILY preview night. The series ends with "Click, Clack, Moo."
So you're probably wondering how much this is going to cost because this season is sooooo good?
You're in for a surprise. RiverCenter personnel are pleased to announce not only did they not raise ticket prices, they’ve actually lowered them.
Granted some of the season ticket packages are 50 cents less than last year, but, hey, it is still a saving.
“This makes our product affordable,” said Jim Rutland, the programming and education manager. “We want to be the community center for the arts. We try to be affordable for everyone.”
The least expensive season ticket for the Broadway on Broadway series are $103.50-$133.50 in the balcony, he said. Compare that to last season’s $104-$210.50.
The season tickets for the 2010-11 season are on sale now. Single tickets go on sale in August.
Some ticket options are also very intriguing.
RiverCenter put the Classics and Variety series into one Center Stage umbrella name. There is the Center Stage Select season ticket option.
You can choose four shows from the eight provided in the two series for one price. If you want to add a “subscriber option” offering, you may. For this Select season, it’s best to work with someone in the box office because the subscriber options are different prices.
The Custom Combos allows you to design your own season ticket package. You start by choosing four shows from any series and then add other shows that you want to see.
The Broadway on Broadway series is something Rutland is proud of, he said.
“We were really fortunate to get those shows,” he said.
“Some of these shows are just off Broadway,” said communications manager Darlene Hughes Kittrell.
So here's the schedule:
Center Stage — Classics
Nicholas Phan: Young American tenor who recently made his Carnegie Hall debut. 7:30 p.m. Oct. 16.
Christmas with the King’s Singers: And the Columbus Symphony Orchestra. The choir from King’s College in Cambridge, England, will collaborate with the CSO for its annual holiday concert. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 3. Subscriber option.
A Cantus Christmas: The annual concert by Columbus’ only paid professional chorus, features the Atlanta Symphony Brass Quintet and tenor Bradley Howard. 7:30 p.m. Dec. 19. Subscriber option.
Aquila Theatre Co.: The British company, now based in New York City, will present Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” 7:30 p.m. Jan. 25.
State Symphony Orchestra of Russia: Conductor Mark Gorenstein leads the 70-year-old orchestra in Brahms’ fourth symphony and pieces by Khachaturian and Prokofiev. Soloist Dimitri Alexeev plays piano. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4.
Moscow Festival Ballet: Founded in 1989, the company presents “Romeo & Juliet,” in a presenation by RiverCenter and the Columbus Ballet. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 19.
Center Stage — Variety
An Evening with Emile Pandolfi: The classical pianist returns to bring his entertaining blend of his mastery on the piano, with his humorous stories. 7:30 p.m. Sept. 18
The Christmas Music of Mannheim Steamroller: The popular group returns with its timeless holiday music. It sold out two years ago; we recommend you buy tickets early. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 18.
Drumline Live!: Created by the team that brought us the 2002 movie, “Drumline,” this musical revue features 39 musicians and dancers. It was a hit when it came to RiverCenter two years ago. 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23. Subscriber option.
An Evening with Lucille Ball: “Thank you for asking.” This is a celebration of “the first lady of television,” Lucy. Directed by Lucie Arnaz and starring Suzanne LaRusch. 7:30 p.m. March 5.
The Del McCoury Band: With the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. McCoury’s bluegrass music meets New Orleans jazz. 7:30 p.m. March 27.
Broadway on Broadway
Legally Blonde: The musical based on the 2001 movie of the same name. It’s about Elle Woods, who goes to Harvard Law School after her boyfriend dumps her for a more “serious” woman. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 9-10.
The Color Purple: Based on the 1985 movie, that was in turned based on the Alice Walker novel. It’s about a tough life of an African American woman. 7:30 p.m. Jan. 11-12. Subscriber option.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: Based on the 1991 animated feature about a young woman who finds her way through an enchanted castle to find true love. 7:30 p.m. Feb. 1-2. Subscriber option.
Grease: This is the new production that just came off Broadway. Stars Eddie Mekka (Carmine from “Laverne & Shirley”) as DJ Vince Fontaine. About good girl Sandy, who falls for greaser Danny. 7:30 p.m. April 13-14.
Monty Python’s Spamalot: Loosely based on the 1975 movie, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” it won the 2005 Tony Award for Best Musical. Tells the story of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they go in search of the Holy Grail. Features flying cows, killer rabbits, taunting Frenchmen and lots of songs. 7:30 p.m. May 4-5.
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and Other Story Books: Excerpts from eight children’s stories, including “Amazing Grace,” “Borrequita and the Coyote,” “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” “Imogene’s Antlers,” “Martha Speaks,” “Master Man,” “Math Curse” and “Owen,” come to life. Recommended for children in grades pre-K-3. 7 p.m. Oct. 8.
African Children’s Choir: “Journey of Hope.” Founded in 1984, this children’s chorus is made up of children 7-12, many of whom are orphaned and all very poor. The tours allow the director of the project to educate the children to break out of the cycle of poverty. 7 p.m. Nov. 2.
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast: The family night preview. The perfect opportunity to introduce young children to the theater, and perhaps not disturb adults around them who do not have children. Recommended for children 7 and older. 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31. A $5 discount given to children 7-12. Subscriber option.
Click, Clack, Moo: Musical version of Betsy Lewin’s Caldecott Award-winning book. Farmer Brown is bothered by all the noises made by the animals who are protesting their working conditions. Recommended for children in grades pre-K-3. 7 p.m. March 11.
And here are the season ticket packages:
Center Stage Classics
Package A: Nicholas Phan, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” State Symphony of Russia, Moscow Festival Ballet. $53-$128.
Package B: Everything in Package A, plus The King’s Singers and the CSO. $76-$155.
Package C: Everything in Package A, plus A Cantus Christmas. $76-$157.
Package D: All of the offerings. $99-$184.
Center Stage Variety
Package A: Emile Pandolfi, Mannheim Steamroller, Lucille Ball, Del McCoury with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. $77-$169.
Package B: Package A, plus “Drumline Live!” $87-$200.
Center Stage Select
Package A: Select four from Nicholas Phan, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” State Symphony of Russia, Moscow Festival Ballet, Emile Pandolfi, Mannheim Steamroller, Lucille Ball, Del McCoury with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.
Package B: After selecting the four from Package A, you have the option of adding The King’s Singers with CSO, A Cantus Columbus, “Drumline Live!”
After you’ve chosen your Select Package, the box office will contact you for the total amount due. Because each show has a different price, we are not able to print every combination’s pricing.
Broadway on Broadway
Package A: Legally Blonde, Grease, Monty Python’s Spamalot. $103.50-$133.50.
Package B: Package A, plus “The Color Purple.” $128-$168.
Package C: Package A, plus “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” $135.50-$175.50.
Package D: All of the offerings. $160-$210.
Package A: “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” African Children’s Choir and “Click, Clack, Moo.” $20-$47.
Package B: Package A, plus “Beauty and the Beast.” $47-$89.
Remember, if you want to see some of these shows, remember to get your tickets early, because they were so popular that they'll sell out in no time.