Broadway is alive and well in Greenville.
“Producers are so happy with the audiences we’ve built in Greenville,” says Peace Center President and CEO Megan Riegel. “They love to come here.”
That commitment is reflected in the 2017–18 Broadway season announced Tuesday night at the Peace Center. The nine-show season features the 2015 Tony Award winner for Best Musical, “Fun Home,” and the 2016 Tony Award winner for Best Revival, “The Color Purple.”
Add to that blockbusters “Les Miserables” and “The Phantom of the Opera,” the sequel to the Phantom’s journey in “Love Never Dies,” the true story “On Your Feet!,” and three hit-movie adaptations (“School of Rock,” “The Bodyguard,” and “Waitress”), and it equals what Riegel calls another great season.
“The Bodyguard,” Sept. 11–17
Based on the 1992 Whitney Houston-Kevin Costner film, this musical is about a former Secret Service agent turned bodyguard hired to protect a musical superstar from an unknown stalker. Grammy Award-nominee and R&B star Deborah Cox stars. The musical includes several Houston songs, including “Queen of the Night,” “So Emotional,” “One Moment in Time,” “Saving All My Love,” “Run to You,” “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” and “I Will Always Love You.”
“Fun Home,” Sept. 26–Oct. 1
This musical is based on the bestselling graphic novel by cartoonist Alison Bechdel, a memoir that tells the story of a girl growing up in a small Pennsylvania town with a perfectionist dad who slowly realizes she’s gay and he is, too. When the College of Charleston chose “Fun Home” as its reading selection for incoming freshmen in 2013, state Rep. Garry Smith (R-Simpsonville) said the university was promoting the “gay and lesbian lifestyle” and proposed cutting $52,000 from the school’s budget, the cost of the freshman reading program. His colleagues in the General Assembly passed the bill. Bechdel and some Broadway cast members later staged the musical at CofC.
“Les Miserables,” Oct. 31–Nov. 5
Based on Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, “Les Miserables” tells the story of ex-convict Jean Valjean as he’s trailed by police inspector Javert. The story, set against the backdrop of the Paris uprising of 1832, is one of redemption and social justice. “Les Miserables” was last seen in the Broadway Series in 2012.
“School of Rock,” Dec. 5–10
Andrew Lloyd Webber returns to the rock roots in this musical based on the hit film that starred Jack Black. Dewey Finn is a substitute teacher and wannabe rock star who turns a bunch of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock group. The musical features an all-kids rock band.
“On Your Feet!,” Dec. 26–31
On Your Feet! takes the audience behind the music and inside the story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan. The couple came to America from Cuba and became a crossover sensation at the very top of the pop music world. But just when they thought they had it all, they almost lost everything. “People forget all the wonderful music of Gloria Estefan,” Riegel said. “When I see a production, I want my emotions to go all over the place. I want to be moved. This does that.”
“The Phantom of the Opera,” Jan. 31–Feb. 11, 2018
This reimagined staging of “The Phantom of the Opera” is grittier and more realistic than the original, but the story is largely unchanged.
“The Color Purple,” March 13–18, 2018
Based on the 1982 novel by Alice Walker, the John Doyle production follows the journey of Celie, an African-American woman in the American South from the early to mid-20th century. The revival ended its two-year Broadway run in January; one of its producers is Oprah Winfrey.
“Waitress,” May 8–13, 2018
Based on the Adrienne Shelly film, “Waitress” tells the story of Jenna, a waitress and expert pie maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town’s new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start. Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles wrote the music and lyrics. “I loved that movie, and this has adorable choreography and the soundtrack is wonderful,” Riegel said.
“Love Never Dies,” June 12–17, 2018
So what happened to the Phantom after he disappeared from the Paris Opera House? In this sequel, audiences find out the Phantom has escaped to a new life in New York, among the amusement park rides and freak shows of Coney Island. Christine Daaé, the object of the Phantom’s obsession and now one of the world’s finest sopranos, is coming to perform in New York. “I purposely scheduled ‘Love Never Dies’ in the same season as ‘Phantom,’” Riegel said.