Atticus Finch. Alexander Hamilton. Jimmy Buffett. Skimbleshanks. Classic characters, all.
And each of them, in one form or another, is coming to Tampa soon.
The David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts has unveiled its 2020-21 lineup of Broadway plays and musicals, a slate that includes To Kill a Mockingbird, Hamilton, Escape to Margaritaville and Cats, among others.
Eight of the 11 shows will be part of the Straz Center’s Bank of America Broadway at the Straz season series. But all 11 come highly decorated. Among them are the last four Tony Award winners for best musical: Hadestown (2019), The Band’s Visit (2018), Dear Evan Hansen (2017) and Hamilton (2016).
But the season will kick off with the rare hit play: Aaron Sorkin’s adaptation of To Kill a Mockingbird (Oct. 6-11), whose original Broadway run, starring Jeff Daniels, broke box-office records for drama. The touring version in Tampa will star The Waltons’ John-Boy, Emmy winner Richard Thomas, in the role of Atticus Finch.
“He’s a terrific actor, and he’s perfect for this show,” said Judy Lisi, president and CEO of the Straz Center. “We had Richard Thomas here a few years ago with 12 Angry Men, and he was fantastic. It did very well.”
Floridians should feel right at home with the Jimmy Buffett musical Escape to Margaritaville (Oct. 27-Nov. 1), featuring original songs alongside salt-shaking classics such as Volcano and Cheeseburger in Paradise. That’s followed by Tootsie (Nov. 17-22), a Tony-winning adaptation of the 1982 cross-dressing movie comedy.
One of the hottest tickets might be Hadestown (Dec. 1-6), a swamp-jazz reimagining of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Penned by folk singer-songwriter Anais Mitchell, the show won eight Tonys last year, including best musical, becoming the year’s breakout Broadway blockbuster.
Over the holidays comes a musical that won even more Tonys: The Band’s Visit (Dec. 29-Jan. 3), the story of an Egyptian band that has been misdirected to a nonexistent gig in a small Israeli town. For fans moved to tears by last season’s production of Come From Away, The Band’s Visit, winner of 11 Tonys, might be next season’s heartfelt highlight. Or perhaps it’ll be The Prom (Feb. 9-14), a satirical yet touching cult favorite about Broadway stars adopting a cause in small-town America. It’s already being fast-tracked into a film directed by Ryan Murphy and starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, James Corden and Ariana Grande.
Familiar favorites return to the Straz in early 2021, including Andrew Lloyd Webber’s Cats (April 27-May 2) — and no, the recent, much-derided flop of a film version shouldn’t stop fans from lapping it up.
“It used to be that whenever there was a movie, just the awareness level, we’d build on it," said Lisi, who hasn’t seen the Cats movie. "But it seemed so bad that I don’t know how it’s going to affect it for Cats.”
Stephen Schwartz’s alternate history of Oz Wicked (Jan. 13-31) will also make a return appearance, as will Shear Madness (Feb. 16-April 4 in the Jaeb Theater), the long-running, Tampa-set murder mystery featuring new clues and suspects every night.
Spring 2021 brings the return of Dear Evan Hansen (March 23-28), one of the past decade’s breakout Broadway sensations, for the second time in less than two years. The musical, about an anxious teen caught up in a lie he never meant to tell, produced a soundtrack so pop-friendly it cracked Billboard’s Top 10.
And then there is Hamilton, a Broadway phenomenon unlike any other. Expect the show to spur plenty of ticket sales when it returns on June 1-27, 2021. When the show came to Tampa for the 2018-19 season, the Straz had to cap season ticket sales, lest they run out of tickets for non-subscribers.
“We’ve had big shows, like the first time Phantom came through, or when Cats went through — they were big, big years,” Lisi said. “But Hamilton became such a national and international event, I’ve never seen anything like that.”
Hamilton, Dear Evan Hansen and Wicked are not included in the 2020-21 Broadway series ticket, which goes on sale first to current subscribers. They have until March 20 to renew their seats at prices ranging from $229 to $798. New season subscribers may also sign up for tickets now. Tickets to individual shows will go on sale on a date to be announced.
For more information, call the Straz at (813) 229-7827 or see strazcenter.org.