On Tuesday night, before the opening night of this season's final event, "Mama Mia!," the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts announced the schedule for the 2012-2013 season.
To commemorate the RiverCenter's 10th anniversary, the upcoming season will kick off on Sept. 8 with the 10th Anniversary Birthday Bash: a concert by The Midtown Men, featuring four stars from the original Broadway cast of "Jersey Boys." This event will include champagne and cake.
"We wanted to have a distinct event to commemorate the anniversary," said Jim Rutland, programming and education director for the RiverCenter, adding that the first full season of programming opened in September 2002.
Rutland is especially excited about this year's lineup, which includes concerts from Broadway darling Bernadette Peters and blueswoman Bonnie Riatt, as well as the stand-up comedy of Bill Engvall and stage productions of "Shrek the Musical" and "Dreamgirls."
"Bernadette Peters is kind of a coup for us because she's a true star," said Rutland. "(And) Bonnie Riatt is iconic."
Salley Turner, who has been a RiverCenter donor for 10 years, said that she's looking forward to those two ladies as well as several of the plays, including "Catch Me If You Can" and "Dreamgirls," many of which she hasn't seen before.
Turner mentioned supporting the community and the quality of the shows as reasons she's a donor.
"I haven't seen anything here that's not just as good as anything in New York," she said. "I'll be coming to all of them."
Fellow donor Charlie Mendoza concurred, stating that he is from New York and prefers to attend shows here because of the caliber of talent.
In addition to Peters, the Broadway Series will also feature "Shrek the Musical," "Catch Me If You Can" and "The Addams Family."
Engvall kicks off the Center Stage Series events, which also include The National Circus of the People's Republic of China, Raitt, Canadian Brass, Joe Bonamassa, Cantus Christmas 2012, Momix presenting "Botanica," Aquila Theatre presenting "Cyrano," New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players presenting "The Mikado," Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and the Vega String Quartet.
The Knology Discovery family series will showcase "Martha Speaks," "Clifford the Big Red Dog" and "Suessical." "I think we've got a nice cross-section of events and they're at the top of their game for what they're doing," said Rutland.
Retired teacher Scherida Brannan is especially excited about -- and supportive of -- the Knology series because it's "a wonderful way to introduce children to theater," she said, noting that the shows often feature characters children are familiar with, which engages them.
"It's wonderful and children always look forward to it," she said.
New and renewing RiverCenter subscribers may purchase tickets now through June 15. Single tickets for most shows will go on sale to non-subscribers on Aug. 4, except where noted.
10th Anniversary Birthday Bash
Saturday, Sept. 8: The season will kick off with "The Midtown Men," a 60's-inspired concert featuring four stars from the original Broadway cast of "Jersey Boys." Tickets are $43.50-$53.50, with a 10th Anniversary Benefactor ticket available for $65.
Broadway on Broadway series
Bernadette Peters, Sept. 29: Tony Award-winning actress Bernadette Peters will perform an evening of songs from Broadway and her albums, accompanied by a 28-piece orchestra. This show is an optional add-on to the Broadway on Broadway season package.
"Shrek the Musical," Nov. 17: This musical is based on the Oscar-winning DreamWorks film about a kidnapped princess and the ogre who came to her rescue. "Shrek the Musical" features 19 all-new songs. This show is an optional add-on to the Broadway on Broadway season package. Single tickets will go on sale to non-subscribers on Sept. 28.
"Catch Me if You Can," Jan. 28-29: Based on the hit movie and the true story that inspired it, "Catch Me if You Can" tells the story of Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., a teen who runs away from home and poses as various people, all while living the life he always dreamed of. Eventually his lies catch up to him -- and so does the FBI. Single tickets will go on sale to non-subscribers on Dec. 7.
"Dreamgirls," April 16-17: The story of a 1960s girl singing group, The Dreams, is chronicled in this Tony and Academy Award-winning musical. Featuring hits such as "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," "One Night Only" and "Listen." Single tickets will go on sale to non-subscribers on March 1, 2013.
"The Addams Family," May 29-30: This comedy brings to life the spooky and dark world of Gomez, Morticia, Uncle Fester, Wednesday, Pugsly and Lurch. Single tickets will go on sale to non-subscribers on April 12, 2013.
The Broadway on Broadway series package includes "Catch Me If You Can," "Dreamgirls" and "The Addams Family." Package prices range from $114.50-$134.50. Package prices with the Bernadette Peters add-on range from $158.75-$228.25. Package prices with the "Shrek the Musical" add on range from $139-$169. Packages prices for both add-ons range from $183.25-$262.75.
Center Stage series
Bill Engvall, Sept. 14: Best known for his "Here's Your Sign" bit and as part of the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, Bill Engvall has made a name for himself with his family-friendly observational humor. $49.50.
The National Circus of the People's Republic of China, Cirque Chinois, Oct. 15: One of the longest running and most distinguished circus troupes in China brings its newest production to the United States. The troupe has been performing for more than six decades and has influenced the world circus society, including Cirque du Soleil. Expect jugglers, flying trapeze artists and contortionists, among many other acts. $29-$39.
Bonnie Raitt, Oct. 27: Nine-time Grammy Award-winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and one of Rolling Stone Magazine's 100 Greatest Singers of All-Time, Bonnie Raitt brings her unique blend of rock and blues to Columbus on the heels of her 19th full-length album release. $59.50.
Canadian Brass, Nov. 26: Playing everything from Bach to blues, Canadian Brass is the world's leading brass ensemble. $39-$49.
Joe Bonamassa, Nov. 30: He opened for B.B. King at the tender age of 12 and is now one of the most highly respected young blues-rock guitarists in the world. He's released 10 albums between 2000 and 2012. $59-$79.
Cantus Christmas 2012, Dec. 17: For the 13th year, Cantus Columbus presents "Message of the Season: The Carols of Christmas," assisted this year by the Vega String Quartet. This regularly sold-out concert recounts the Christmas story through music and carols. $29-$33.
MOMIX, "Botanica," Feb. 1, 2013: Dance-illusionist company MOMIX presents a new multimedia production featuring an eclectic score, athletic dance with outrageous costumes, inventive props, projections and giant puppetry. $37-$47.
Aquila Theatre, "Cyrano," Feb. 12, 2013: New York's Aquila Theatre brings to life the classic French story of Cyrano, the hero with a ridiculously long nose. $27-$39.
New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players, "The Mikado," March 2, 2013: New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players revive the duo's ninth collaboration, which was a smash hit in the 1880s. Set in Japan, the musical is a satire of British politics and society. $39.50-$49.50.
Academy of S. Martin in the Fields, March 14, 2013: This orchestra captivated audiences with its playing in the Academy Award-winning Best Picture "Amadeus" and remains one of the finest chamber orchestras in the world. The orchestra will perform Britten's "Variations on a Theme of Frank Bridge," Haydn's "Farewell Symphony," Bach's First Piano Concerto with pianist Inon Barnaton and Haydn's Cello Concerto in C with cellist Alisa Weilerstein. $49-$59.
Vega String Quartet, May 9, 2013: Also featured in Cantus Christmas 2012, this quartet-in-residence at Emory University has appeared at music halls and festivals throughout the world, including Carnegie Hall and the Royal Academy of Music in London. $29-$33.
Create your own package with the Center Stage series. A 15 percent discount is given on tickets for four or more events.
Knology Discovery family series
"Martha Speaks," Nov. 1-2: Based on the book series by Susan Meddaugh, "Martha Speaks" is the story of a dog who gained the ability to speak after eating a bowl of alphabet soup. This new musical shows how much fun you can have with a talking dog and how Martha's clever way with words saves the day.
"Clifford the Big Red Dog — Live!," Feb. 4-5, 2013: It's the Big Red Dog's 50th anniversary. Clifford and Emily Elizabeth go on a journey to Birdwell Island with their friends Cleo, T-Bone, Charley, Jetta and Mac in this brand-new musical.
"Suessical," March 20-21, 2013: This romp through the Dr. Suess classics is led by The Cat in the Hat. Enjoy visiting Horton, the Whos, Maysie and more as the characters find themselves intertwined in an incredible adventure.
The Knology Discovery family series includes all three events and costs $43.50 for adults and $22.50 for children 11 and younger.