April 16 2014 12:00 AM

Wharton Center announces first part of its 2014-’15 season


East Lansing is getting kinky next year — literally. The Wharton Center announced a portion of its 2014-’15 last week, which includes a stop for the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, “Kinky Boots.” Violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman is coming too, but chances are his wardrobe will be much more subdued.

This year Wharton will unveil its season in two segments; the next set of announcements will be released April 25. Last week´s partial season announcement includes a monster classical date with Perlman on Aril 25, 2015, a jazz date with The Hot Sardines (Feb. 8), and slew of Broadway musicals with cinematic DNA.

“Once,” based on the Academy Award-winning Irish indie musical, takes over Wharton for five days starting Oct. 14. This is the first national tour for the Tony Award winner. On Dec 16, “Annie” arrives, fresh off a Broadway revival under its original director. The 37-year-old show arrives the same month as the big-screen remake starring Jamie Foxx. And “Kinky Boots,” with music by Cyndi Lauper, high kicks onto the Wharton stage in May 2015. It won for best musical and best original score at the 2013 Tony Awards.

“A Celebration of Harold Pinter” starring Julian Sands (“Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”) brings the acclaimed American playwright’s letters and poetry to the Pasant stage on Nov. 16.

Perlman, one of the most famous and honored artists in the world, personifies Wharton Center director Michael Brand´s post-recession strategy of limiting classical dates to big names that are likely to fill the house.

Perlman is as heavy as they come, having conquered the violin repertoire long ago, branched into conducting and taught two or three generations of violin virtuosi. Along the way, he has gradually morphed from the amazing young violinist who wowed America on Ed Sullivan (he appeared on the same show with the Rolling Stones) to the world´s go-to fiddler when it comes to heavy cultural moments, from Steven Spielberg´s "Schindler´s List" to Barack Obama´s 2009 inauguration.

When it comes to jazz, Brand´s chief aim to bring in artists that complement, rather than duplicate, the straight-ahead bop, and post-bop sounds served up by MSU´s Jazz Studies faculty and guest artists. The Hot Sardines start with the old-timey jazz of Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong and Django Reinhardt, but they add tap dance, period costumes, odd hybrid instruments and touches of klezmer. They´ll wedge their Wharton gig between regular six-week runs at Joe´s Pub in Manhattan.