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Mar 29, 2017

'Fun Home,' 'Color Purple' coming to Peace Center

Greenville News

Opera-dwelling phantoms, expert pie bakers, troubled families, French peasants and hard-rocking kids will hit the stage at the Peace Center in the coming year.

The 2017-2018 Broadway season will feature nine shows, opening Sept. 11 with “The Bodyguard,” the stage adaptation of the 1992 Whitney Houston-Kevin Costner film, Peace Center officials announced Tuesday evening.

This year’s lineup includes several new shows, including “Fun Home,” the musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s graphic memoir about growing up in a funeral home with an emotionally abusive father, along with perennial favorites such as “Les Miserables” and “Phantom of the Opera.”

It’s an exciting season, said Peace Center President and CEO Megan Riegel, and the variety of productions is a testament to Greenville’s theater-loving audiences.

“We are very blessed in that Greenville is an important Broadway market now to these agents and to these producers,” Riegel said in an interview prior to the announcement. “We are able now to attract very solid, respectable audiences in terms of the number of people who are going through our doors in each of those weeks. So as a result, we really are lined up to get the great shows that are just coming out on the road.”

Season-opener “The Bodyguard” features R&B singer Deborah Cox in the Whitney Houston role. Cox’s Broadway resume includes roles in “Aida” in 2000 and “Jekyll and Hyde” in 2013.

“The Bodyguard,” which opened in London in 2012, is touring the United States before making its Broadway debut. That’s also true of “Love Never Dies,” Andrew Lloyd Webber’s sequel to “Phantom of the Opera.”

“Love Never Dies,” which will close out the season in June 2018, picks up a decade after its predecessor, with the Phantom living on Coney Island and trying to regain the love of Christine Daae.

Both “Phantom” and “Les Mis” are repeat visitors to Greenville, in part because they’re perennial favorites, Riegel said.

“They are blockbusters that go back into communities every X number of years because they’re still doing incredibly well in those communities,” she said.

While the season-ticket package includes all nine productions, because many fans have already seen “Phantom” and “Les Mis,” subscribers have the option of choosing a seven- or eight-show package that excludes one or both of those two musicals.

Several of this year’s productions have film connections, including “The Color Purple,” the Tony Award-winning adaptation of the Steven Spielberg film, itself adapted from Alice Walker’s novel.

In addition, there’s “School of Rock,” based on the Jack Black film about a guitar-wielding substitute teacher, but which features more than a dozen new songs by Andrew Lloyd Webber, as well as “Waitress,” based on the 2007 Adrienne Shelly film starring Keri Russell as an unhappy waitress who finds inspiration in baking pies.

“One of the things we have found that audiences like is the familiarity, like when something is a big movie like ‘The Bodyguard’ – ‘Dirty Dancing’ is this way, too — but they’re movies you could probably turn on any day of the week, any time of the day, and find them. People love the familiarity of the story, and of course the music in ‘The Bodyguard’ is just absolutely amazing,” Riegel said.

A musical that isn’t connected to a film is “On Your Feet!” which tells the story of singer Gloria Estefan and her husband Emilio and their journey to international stardom from their home in Cuba.

“It’s a great true story about Gloria and Emilio, and it’s got amazing music, and people literally are on their feet in the audience, and it’s one of those ones, it’ll make you laugh, and it’ll make you cry. It’s very moving,” Riegel said.

Tony Award-winner “Fun Home” also isn’t adapted from a film, but it has generated some excitement.

“It really was the buzz of its season on Broadway,” said Tara McNamara, director of public relations for the Peace Center.

It comes with a “mature content” warning for its sometimes-uncomfortable subject matter. But striking a balance, offering lighter- and darker-toned works, is important to Riegel.

“That’s the beautiful thing. You’ve got your revivals on Broadway, and then you’ve got your new works on Broadway,” Riegel said. “And I think it’s really important for us to make sure we’re bringing in some of those new works. … Theater is meant to move you, it’s meant to make you think. It’s meant to challenge you, so again, I’m very excited that that musical is here.”

Nine-show ticket packages range from $345-$865, and seven show packages are $235-$655.

Subscribers can choose a payment plan to spread out the cost across the season. About 60 percent of subscribers now choose that option, Riegel said.

Subscribers to the 2017-2018 season will have early access to the 2018-2019 season, which will feature the touring production of “Hamilton.”

Theater fans are especially excited about the upcoming tour of Broadway juggernaut “Hamilton.” Riegel said she can’t release details yet on its Peace Center run, other than to say that it will make its debut in the 2018 calendar year.

Single tickets for 2017-2018 will go on sale in the fall.

“Right now we’re encouraging people to subscribe. We’re talking up the advantages of subscribing, because at the end of the day, they will always have the best prices. Because when a show increases in demand, what’s called dynamic pricing kicks in — think hotels and airlines. So somebody who subscribes now, subscribes at the best price with no worry of price increases down the road.”

The 2017-2018 Peace Center Broadway schedule:

• “The Bodyguard,” Sept. 11-17

• “Fun Home,” Sept. 26-Oct. 1

• “Les Miserables,” Oct. 31-Nov. 5

• “School of Rock,” Dec. 5-10

• “On Your Feet!” Dec. 26-31

• “The Phantom of the Opera,” Jan. 31-Feb. 11, 2018

• “The Color Purple,” March 13-18, 2018

• “Waitress,” May 8-13, 2018

• “Love Never Dies,” June 12-17, 2018

For more info, go to www.peacecenter.org