Arts season has Broadway pizzazz
Published: Monday, May 6, 2013 at 10:49 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, May 6, 2013 at 10:49 p.m.
Hit musicals including "Hello Dolly" with Sally Struthers, "Buddy — The Buddy Holly Story" and "Mamma Mia!" will add Broadway pizzazz to the forthcoming season from University of Florida Performing Arts, which also will include such returning crowd-pleasing performers as violinist Itzhak Perlman, banjoist Bela Fleck and guitarist Pat Metheny.
The 2013-2014 season of performances at the Phillips Center and the University Auditorium also will feature returning a cappella showstoppers Straight No Chaser; swing revivalists Big Bad Voodoo Daddy; the folk-rock duo Indigo Girls appearing with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra; and the Irish Rovers on their farewell tour.
The lineup, announced Monday night by UF Performing Arts Director Michael Blachly at the Phillips Center, also includes such jazz artists as saxophonist Branford Marsalis and pianists Billy Childs and Kenny Barron in separate performances, as well as such classical entities as the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Estonian National Symphony Orchestra and the Moscow City Symphony.
"I think it speaks to everybody in our community," Blachly said about the season of 66 acts, which begins July 15-16 with a performance by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Ensemble of "Southland" — Katherine Dunham's 1951 ballet that was banned for 50 years for its depiction of racial violence in the South — and ends April 27, 2014, with a concert by the Canadian-based New Orford String Quartet.
Between those performances, the season also includes singer/dancer Ben Vereen in a production called "Steppin' Out Live," as well as the returning Soweto Gospel Choir.
"There are things for children, there are things for people who like jazz, for people who like dance, people who like Broadway and classical music," Blachly said.
Along with popular productions like "Mamma Mia!" and "Hello Dolly," which features former "All in the Family" star Struthers in the lead role, Broadway musicals on the season also will include the classic "Man of La Mancha" as well as "Million Dollar Quartet," a recounting of a mid-'50s studio jam by Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Jerry Lee Lewis, along with "Memphis," the Tony Award-winner for best musical in 2010.
"I think we're going to have a banner year in terms of audience response from the musicals," Blachly said. "Mamma Mia!' is just a huge crowd favorite, and ‘Million Dollar Quartet' is just spectacular."
The UF Performing Arts season has become known over the years for including unique pairings by disparate artists — sometimes in world premiere performances. Along those lines, the 2013-14 season will feature, among others, the Turtle Island Quartet teaming up with the eclectic singer/instrumentalist Nellie McKay, and Atlanta's Indigo Girls performing with the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra the day after the two entities take the stage for the first time in Jacksonville.
The season's musical lineup also includes populist performers like New Jersey's Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes and all-out rockers such as returning Led Zeppelin tribute band Get The Led Out as well as an acoustic show by the country rock/folk act Desert Rose Band featuring Chris Hillman, known for his work with the Flying Burrito Brothers and The Byrds.
The season also includes such internationally renowned performers as Celtic piper Carlos Nunez, South Africa's Johnny Clegg Band and the returning Mongolian music ensemble AnDa Union.
"What we've really become is a look at the world," Blachly said. "I don't want our season dominated only by North American artist interaction."
Prospective ticket buyers at Monday's season-announcement event said they liked the variety of the season, including its balance between hot-ticket Broadway productions and lesser-known but high-quality performers.
"For me, there's a good variety," said David Stirt, who attended Monday's announcement with his wife, Jill Stirt. "You get some good surprises, and then there are others where you know what you're going to get, like (dance company) Pilobolus."
Ann Dillon, who attended with her husband, Mike Dillon, said she would likely see such classical performances as the Estonian National Symphony Orchestra as well as such musicals as "Million Dollar Quartet."
"I think it is one of the strongest (seasons) that we've seen," Dillon said. "I like the range of options, the variety."
Ticket for all performances go on sale June 24 at noon and can be purchased at the Phillips Center box office or by phone at 392-2787 or through Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000.
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