For the first time in a few years, the Broadway series at the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts has some legitimate buzz for the 2013-14 season, which is released today.
Not only is the lineup topped by The Book of Mormon, which opens the season in November and was previously announced, it also includes the current Tony Award winner for best new musical, Once, and The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess, which won the Tony for best revival of a musical. Another high-profile show is the revival of Evita, the musical about Argentine political icon Eva Perón by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice.
Two more musicals fill out the season: Ghost the Musical, based on the 1990 movie with music by Dave Stewart (one half, with Annie Lennox, of the Eurythmics) and lyrics by Glenn Ballard, co-writer and producer of the Alanis Morissette album Jagged Little Pill; and We Will Rock You, with a score featuring Bohemian Rhapsody, We Are the Champions and other rock hits by Queen.
With a two-week run, The Book of Mormon is the new blockbuster for theaters around the country. In the past decade or so, the trio of The Lion King, Wicked (now at the Straz) and Jersey Boys has been the economic foundation of touring Broadway, though they are growing pretty long in the tooth. Almost two years after opening, the Broadway production of Mormon remains wildly popular, playing to 103 percent capacity in a recent week. Its bawdy fare hasn't seemed to present problems on the road.
Once also continues to do well in New York — recently drawing 102 percent capacity and posting a weekly gross of $1,446,088 — and its tour will begin in the summer. Based on an Irish movie, it's a bittersweet love story between a Dublin street singer and a Czech immigrant, with a folkish score by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová.
For Porgy and Bess, director Diane Paulus cut down the four-hour Gershwin opera to a 2 1/2-hour musical, with a book by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Suzan-Lori Parks (Topdog/Underdog). The Broadway production, which closed in September, starred Norm Lewis as Porgy and Audra McDonald as Bess. Producers of the tour have not announced casting.
The Evita revival, due to close Jan. 26 on Broadway, featured Ricky Martin as Che and was directed by Michael Grandage and choreographed by Rob Ashford.
Straz programming chief
Georgiana Young is the new chief programming officer at the Straz Center. She replaces Judy Joseph, who held the position since 2002. In November, Joseph was named vice president of programming and education for Orlando's new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, scheduled to open its first phase in fall 2014.
Young, 53, is a former executive vice president of presenting and director of marketing and business development for Clear Channel Entertainment as well as former executive director of Houston's Society for the Performing Arts, the largest cultural presenter in the Southwest. Most recently, she was executive director of the Paiz Foundation, which supports arts and education in Guatemala. She begins at the Straz on Feb. 1.
The all-Delius CD by the Florida Orchestra, the Master Chorale of Tampa Bay and baritone soloist Leon Williams under Stefan Sanderling, released on the Naxos label in September, has undoubtedly received its share of reviews, but perhaps the most significant internationally appeared in the December issue of Gramophone magazine. Published in London, the venerable (founded in 1923) monthly is the leading English-language publication devoted to classical recordings.
Reviewer Jeremy Dibble noted the aptness of a Delius recording from Florida, where the British composer found his musical voice on an orange plantation near Jacksonville in the 19th century. Dibble gave good marks to Appalachia ("Sanderling's interpretation of this imaginative score is sympathetic"), less good to Sea Drift ("the balance of soloist, chorus and orchestra . . . lacks that delicate range of color essential to Delius' personal brand of polyphony").
John Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8716.