The Wharton Center for the Performing Arts is ready for its encore.
Although the coronavirus outbreak forced the nation’s performing arts and entertainment industry to take a final bow on its scheduled events at the start of 2020, the popular East Lansing performing arts center is looking beyond the pandemic when the curtain will rise again on an enjoyable evening out on the town.
“Wharton Center is ready to move forward and do what we do best: present the finest of the performing arts,” Mike Brand, executive director of the Wharton Center, said in a news release. “We are as excited as ever to announce a new Wharton season. The 2020-2021 season offers opportunities for our patrons to relax, have fun and enjoy experiences that we are confident will make lifelong memories.”
The lineup for the coming season includes everything from classical and jazz performances to dance, variety and family theater. The highlight of the schedule spotlights five Broadway hits running from December through July 2021.
- “Mean Girls,” running Dec. 8-13, is the hit musical from an award-winning creative team including writer Tina Fey, composer Jeff Richmond, lyricist Nell Benjamin and director Casey Nicholaw. The Chicago Tribunecalled the show, “By far the funniest musical of the year.”
- “Jesus Christ Superstar” is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a production coming to the Wharton Center on Jan. 26-31. The production by director Timothy Sheader and award-winning choreographer Drew McOnie won the 2017 Olivier Award for best musical revival. It features music by Andrew Lloyd Webber and lyrics by Tim Rice.
- Audience Choice Award-winner “Pretty Woman: The Musical” comes to the center Feb. 16-21. The musical features direction and choreography by two-time Tony Award-winner Jerry Mitchell; an original score by Grammy-winner Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance; a book by the movie’s director, Garry Marshall; and screenwriting by J.F. Lawton.
- “Cats,” the record-breaking musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber, returns to the Wharton Center on May 11-16. Winner of seven Tony Awards, including best musical, “Cats” features an original score by Webber, original scene and costume design by John Napier, new lighting design by Natasha Katz, new sound design by Mick Potter, new choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and direction by Trevor Nunn.
- “Disney’s Frozen” hits the stage July 7-18, 2021. From the producers of “The Lion King” and “Aladdin,” the Tony-nominated best musical is filled with sensational special effects, stunning sets and costumes, and powerhouse performances.
In addition to the Broadway shows, the Wharton Center’s lineup of scheduled events includes performances by world-renowned quartet Canadian Brass, Irish musical act Celtic Woman, dance ensemble EVIDENCE, violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, ballet ensemble Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, and Michigan native and “Hamilton” star Renée Elise Goldsberry.
The 2020-2021 season also includes sensory-friendly performances. The events provide supportive and welcoming environments for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other sensory sensitivities and their families. Audiences will also be able to engage in popular engagement activities such as Insight Previews and After Chats for many of this year’s performances. A complete list of all sensory-friendly events and engagement activities is available online or by phoning the Auto-Owner Insurance Ticket Office at the Wharton Center.
For a complete look at all the 2020-2021 season events, log onto the Wharton Center website at whartoncenter.com or request a brochure by calling (800) WHARTON. An interactive brochure is online at whartoncenter.com.