AT&T Performing Arts Center announced the 2013/14 Lexus Broadway Series season during a swanky subscribers cocktail party Thursday night in the Winspear Opera House lobby. It's a doozy of a lineup.
News leaked last year that AT&T PAC would be lucky enough to host The Book of Mormon, Broadway's hottest ticket since The Producers, but dates and details had hitherto been sketchy. Now it's revealed that our doorbells will be ringing in August, but only for 16 performances. So start thinking about whom you can call in favors to right now.
The Book of Mormon
August 21-September 1
Do you really even need an introduction for this show? A massive hit both critically and commercially (nine Tony Awards!), this boundary-pushing musical skewering of the Mormon church is still Broadway's impossible ticket. Dreamed up by the creators of South Park, Matt Parker and Trey Stone (along with help from Avenue Q's Robert Lopez), the show follows two earnest young Mormon missionaries who travel to Africa, naively hoping to spread the message of the Latter-Day Saints. Much, much explicit language, a cavalcade of crude jokes, and Parker and Stone's trademark hilariously clever songwriting follow.
Peter and the Starcatcher
Before Peter met Wendy, before the Captain had his hook, even before we knew the true power of clapping our hands — Starcatcher delves into the origins of the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up through imaginative stagecraft and an irresistibly fresh approach to storytelling. Based on the popular children's book series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, the play uses a dozen actors to embody more than 100 characters, using props and the show's innovative design (every single aspect of it won a Tony Award) to conjure up a Neverland you never knew existed.
The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess
It made Stephen Sondheim cranky, but Diane Paulus' new take on the Gershwins' tragic opera about a pair of lovers living in a 1930s Southern slum known as Catfish Row won over Tony voters, who crowned it the best musical revival of 2012. The season announcement actually kicked off with a supremely talented senior student from nearby Booker T. Washington performing "Summertime," one of the numerous classic tunes from the musical.
February 18-March 2
I was almost an investor in this show's recent Broadway revival. No, I'm not a millionaire; producer Ken Davenport used the now-commonplace practice of crowd-funding for his mounting of the 1970s musical, a bold move that signaled the young, inventive attitude he wanted to build the show around. A pop- and folk-infused score by Stephen Schwartz helps tell parables from the gospels of Matthew and Luke, all sung by impossibly energetic young things. (The Broadway revival featured mini-trampolines built into the stage floor.)
Disney's Beauty and the Beast
Though it was only here two years ago, Disney's juggernaut of a musical proves you can't keep the cutlery down. "Lavish" and "eye-popping" are two of the adjectives the press release uses to describe the stage version of the Oscar-winning animated film, and those descriptors are pretty apt. Though the fairy tale is all about looking past appearances, the musical makes terrific use of some pretty dazzling design work. If you ever wanted to see a candelabra dance or a teapot sing, this is your show.