Tuesday, April 23, 2024

MSU Wharton Center announces 2024-2025 Broadway Series

March 4, 2024
Hamilton National Tour performing in 2021. Photo courtesy of Wharton Center.
Hamilton National Tour performing in 2021. Photo courtesy of Wharton Center. —
Photo by Joan Marcus | The State News

Michigan State University's Wharton Center announced its selections for the upcoming 2024-2025 Broadway Series. The lineup will feature the Michigan debut of “Shucked” and “Life of Pi” and the Wharton Center premiere of “MJ.”

The Broadway Series at the Wharton Center has been an experience unique to MSU that brings touring Broadway shows into the view of college students.

As of March 4, the tickets became available to Wharton Center subscribers. However, anyone can become a Wharton Center subscriber if they’ve purchased the season ticket package made available that day for $225.

Here is the full series lineup of Broadway shows.

"Les Misérables" Oct. 8–13

The series kicks off with Cameron Mackintosh’s production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg’s acclaimed musical, “Les Misérables.” The musical, set in France during the nineteenth century, highlights themes of revolution, sacrifice and human triumph.

“Les Misérables” was last performed at the Wharton Center in 2019. Executive Director of The Wharton Center Eric Olmscheid said that its return was an intentional decision to round out the experience of season ticket holders.

“I'm looking for that balance of how do we find stuff that's really truly joyful— that musical theater comedy, but pairing it with elements of heavier nature or contemplative work,” Olmscheid said.

"Shucked" Jan. 21–26

“Shucked,” performing for the first time in Michigan at the Wharton Center, is a 2022 musical comedy directed by Jack O’Brien, written with a book by Robert Horn and a score by Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally.

The production features a humorous plot revolving around the fictional town of Cob County and the lengths its residents will go to for their beloved corn.

Olmscheid said the show is “a corny, fun musical comedy.”

“MJ” Feb. 11–16

“MJ” is a 2022 jukebox musical created by Christopher Wheeldon and Lynn Nottage. Set during the 1992 Dangerous World Tour, the production aims to show the life of Michael Jackson outside of his pop icon persona.

Olmscheid said it provided him with a new perspective on Jackson as an artist.

“The storytelling is remarkable— you peel the curtain behind Michael Jackson as an artist,” Olmscheid said. “It's rooted in his artistry and him getting ready for the 1992 Dangerous Tour. It's a real great snapshot of his life.”

“Life of Pi" March 11–16

Also performing for the first time in Michigan at the Wharton Center is “Life of Pi.” Based on the acclaimed novel by Yann Martel, the show adapted by Lolita Chakrabarti debuted in 2019. The production follows the journey of a boy named Pi as he’s stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger, a hyena, a zebra and an orangutan.

The show sparks philosophical questions on truth as cast members use elaborate puppetry to bring to life the companions Pi travels with.

Olmscheid said he believed that the Wharton Center is able to acquire such sought-after shows because of their relationships within the Broadway world and the Michigan community.

“Whenever we can be the Michigan premiere of a musical, we love it,” Olmscheid said. “Wharton Center has, you know, a long history of doing the best of Broadway right here in mid-Michigan— and anytime that we are able to be the first, we really want that. But it's because of the long relationships and planning that we are able to do those types of things.”

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“Chicago" April 8-13

Rounding out the series is Broadway’s longest-running musical, “Chicago.” Set in the roaring ‘20s, the musical explores the era through the experience of killer turned media sensation, fictional character Roxie Hart.

Featuring music regarded as Broadway classics, Olmscheid said the show's return to the Wharton Center will be a loud and energetic one.

“We'll finish out with Chicago, which is a really highly entertaining (piece with) lots of dance and movement with that kind of musical theater comedy as well,” Olmscheid said.

Specials and Ticket Information

In addition to the productions that are a part of the 2024-2025 Broadway Series package, two separate shows can also be purchased by season ticket holders for additional fees if they choose.

The two additional special productions are “Hamilton,” running form May 21-June 1, and “The Book of Mormon,” running from June 19–22. With a cemented legacy in the theatrical world, both productions return to the Wharton Center.

“The Book of Mormon” is a musical comedy that debuted in 2011, and “Hamilton” is a 2015 biographical musical covering the life of Alexander Hamilton.

For non-season ticket members, the tickets to all of these productions will go on sale later this summer. And for more cost-effective options, students can purchase tickets to any of these shows individually for $29.

Olmscheid said making these productions affordable for students was something very important to him.

“We negotiate and prioritize making sure there are accessible price points for students,” Olmscheid said. “So any MSU student can see a Broadway show at the Wharton Center for $29 with their student ID, and that is something that we have really prioritized to make sure that students have access to these top quality touring Broadway shows.”

Broadway shows coming to MSU is something truly special for students, he said.

“We're in kind of a unique situation — there’s only a handful of university presenters that do Broadway like we do at Michigan State, and it's really special and unique,” Olmscheid said. “For a community our size to be able to do what we do is really special.”

Olmscheid believes performance to be core to the human experience and hopes students and members of the community will take advantage of the shows being shown at the Wharton.

“For many people, the arts are a pathway into seeing the world through a window or mirror,” Olmscheid said. “Seeing the world through a window in the sense of seeing other people's vantage points, or a mirror, holding it up to their own life. I think the arts are really important for that as a human being, and Broadway is often an accessible pathway in.”

More information on ticket sales and the upcoming Broadway Series 2024-2025 can be found on the Wharton Center website.

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