If you were unable to get tickets to the monster hit “The Book of Mormon” earlier this season at the Straz Center, you’ll have another chance next year.
The winner of nine Tony Awards will be back for a return engagement Jan. 20-Feb. 1, part of a lineup of major Broadway hits coming to the Tampa performing arts center.
The season includes last season’s Tony-winning musical revival “Pippin,” along with “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” and one of the season’s biggest hits, “Motown the Musical,” a history of the music launched by producer Berry Gordy.
The season opens with “Cinderella,” the stage version of a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical created for a television broadcast in the 1950s.
The current production marked the show’s Broadway debut, though it has been seen in previous tours and in school and community theater productions. It won the 2013 Tony for best costumes for William Ivey Long.
The show has been updated with a new book by Douglas Carter Beane, but the show still includes such favorite songs as “In My Own Little Corner,” “Ten Minutes Ago” and “Impossible.”
A new stage version of the now-classic film “Dirty Dancing” arrives in December, telling the story of a young girl named Babe who discovers herself at a summer resort with the help of a dance instructor named Johnny. The musical, which has been a hit in London, features many of the hit songs from the film, including “Hungry Eyes,” “Do You Love Me?” and “(I’ve Had) The time of My Life.”
Andrew Lloyd Webber’s long-running “The Phantom of the Opera” returns in a reconceived production presented by producer Cameron Mackintosh and overseen by choreographer Matthew Bourne.
It still tells the same story of the masked Phantom who haunts the Paris Opera House and is in love with the young singer Christine Daae. But this version features new scenic design by Paul Brown, new choreography and new staging, as well as the original Tony Award-winning costume design by Maria Björnson.
America’s favorite orphan “Annie” returns in February in a new touring version of the 1970s musical, staged by the show’s lyricist and original director Martin Charnin. (James Lapine directed the recent Broadway revival).
Though critics have been mixed, audiences have been flocking to see “Motown the Musical,” a backstage story Gordy wrote about his life and the hits spawned by his Detroit-based label. The show features a huge catalog of No. 1 hits by such stars as Diana Ross and the Supremes, the Four Tops, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and others. Among the songs are “My Guy,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “ABC,” “All Night Long,” “Do You Love Me,” “I Hear a Symphony” and “Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch.”
Stephen Schwartz’s musical “Pippin,” about the son of Charlemagne searching for meaning and purpose in his life, returned to Broadway for the first time last season in an all-new production with a circus theme.
“I think the marvel of next season is ‘Pippin,’ which is just such a creative production,” said Judith Lisi, president and CEO of the Straz Center. “It is stunning.”
The final new entry on the schedule is also the most unusual, or at least, non-traditional. The Broadway-bound “The Illusionists” is a lavish spectacle featuring five magicians, a mentalist and an escapologist. It has been a hit in London and Australia and is scheduled to open on Broadway later this season.
“It’s a huge show, a big lush magic show,” Lisi said.
The season also includes another encore, “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast” which returns for one week.
Lisi said putting together the Broadway season each year requires juggling skills, balancing new entries with returning favorites that will still draw repeat business and new audiences like “The Book of Mormon” or “Wicked.”
“We do excellent business so the producers of the shows always want their shows to play their first year here. They want to go to the big markets. But we can’t fit it all in,” she said.
There are times when she makes room for a show that then decides to rearrange its touring schedule.
But Tampa is a popular destination because the Straz Center has built a large and steady subscription base for Broadway tours.
“We do our best to bring in the major shows, number one, and we try to be consistent with that,” Lisi said. “And when your subscription list gets big enough, people don’t want to give up their seats and they know they’re going to have good shows to see.”
STRAZ CENTER 2014-15 BROADWAY SEASON
“Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella,” Oct. 21-26
“Dirty Dancing,” Dec. 2-7
“The Phantom of the Opera,” Dec. 17-Jan. 4
“The Book of Mormon,” Jan. 20-Feb. 1, 2015
“Annie,” Feb. 17-22, 2015
“Motown the Musical,” March 17-22, 2015
“Pippin,” April 14-19, 2015
“Disney’s Beauty and the Beast,” May 5-10, 2015
“The Illusionists,” May 26-31, 2015
For more information: (800) 955-1045; strazcenter.org.