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©Disney. Photo by Deen van Meer
Original company, North American tour of "Newsies."
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Photo by Joan Marcus
Jelani Remy as “Simba” and the ensemble in “He Lives in You” from "The Lion King's" national tour.
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Photo by Joan Marcus
Clifton Oliver as Berry Gordy and the cast of "Motown the Musical."
Get ready for lions, newsboys and Motown soul. After a successful 2012 run at the Altria Theater (6 N. Laurel St.) — formerly the Landmark Theater, The Lion King returns for the 2015-2016 Broadway in Richmond season. Plus the Richmond debuts of Newsies and Motown the Musical bring the critically acclaimed Broadway performances to the Altria stage. Other upcoming shows include Ragtime and Joseph and the Amazing Techincolor Dreamcoat. Beginning Monday, March 16, current subscribers can buy subscriptions for the 2015-2016 season (592-3401 or broadwayinrichmond.com) for $215 and up. Individual tickets go on sale closer to performance dates. Here’s a preview of the lineup:
Winner of two Tony Awards for Best Score and Best Choreography in 2012, Disney’s Newsies is based on the true story of when newsboys went on strike in 1899 after newspaper mogul Joseph Pulitzer raised newspaper prices at the expense of the delivery boys. During a preview event March 13 at the Altria, Adam Kaplan, who was the understudy for the lead character, Jack, on Broadway, performed the song "Santa Fe." He said afterward that Richmonders "can expect a high-energy, exciting show with a lot of music that you're going to be singing when you leave." Kaplan, who played the role more than 30 times, also pointed out that the music was written by Alan Menken, who composed the scores for Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Little Mermaid. But, he said, "When you hear 'Disney,' don't just think little kids. It's great for all audiences — great for a date night, great for guys because of the athleticism."
Directed and choreographed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge and produced by the team behind The Addams Family, Spamalot, Rock of Ages and The Color Purple, Tony Award-winning Ragtime is set in turn-of-the century New York as an upper-class wife, Jewish immigrant and young Harlem musician come together united in their belief of a better future.
Motown the Musical 1/5-10, 2016
The true American dream story of Motown founder, Berry Gordy, Motown the Musical follows the life of the Motown legend as he transitions from boxer to music mogul and launches the careers of stars like Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson. Featuring over 40 classic songs such as “My Girl,” “I Heard It through the Grapevine” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” the musical tells the story behind the music. At the preview event, original cast member Ryan Shaw performed a medley of songs that Gordy's character would sing in the play. "It's not like a musical," he said afterward. "It actually has a story." Shaw, who played Stevie Wonder in the Broadway show, noted that Motown the Musical is based on Gordy's autobiography.
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat 2/26-27, 2016
Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat tells the story of the trials and triumphs of Israel’s favorite son, Joseph. A reimagining of the biblical story of Joseph, the play is directed by Tony Award-winner Andy Blankenbuehler.
The Lion King 4/19-5/8, 2016
Winner of six Tony Awards including Best Musical, Disney’s The Lion King is a spectacle of unforgettable music, unique storytelling and a menagerie of animals from the Serengeti come to life on stage. Tony Award-winning director Julie Taymor and Tony Award-winning choreographer Garth Fagan bring the story of hope and adventure to life, featuring the recognizable songs created by award-winning artists Elton John and Tim Rice. Tshidi Manye, who was part of the cast in the Toronto production, sang "The Circle of Life" as the character Rafiki at the opening of the preview. "It's one of those shows," she said afterward. "This one's going to be timeless." Manye said people often get emotional when they hear the song, because they can relate it to their own lives. She recalled that one audience member told the cast after a performance that her husband had recently passed away, and she was comforted by the thought that he was part of the circle of life, and lived on in his family's memory.