fresh, and yet it’s also familiar — that’s what you might think when you see
the Wharton Center’s Broadway line-up for 2010-11.
of the shows were inspired by classic books and/or hugely popular films. One is
built around a famous singing group of the 1960s and 1970s. And the two special
events added to the mix are proven crowdpleasers.
season begins Nov. 3 when “Mary Poppins” touches down on the Wharton stage. A
co-production of Disney and megawatt producer Cameron Mackintosh, “Poppins” combines
the familiar songs from the Oscar-winning 1964 film (including “A Spoonful of
Sugar” and “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”) with new music and several
story elements taken from the original P.L. Travers books about a nanny who
uses imagination, innovative and a touch of magic to solve the problems of a
British family. “Mary Poppins”
1980 film “9 to 5” was not a musical, although its upbeat theme song did turn
into a #1 hit for Dolly Parton. More than 25 years later, Parton composed the
score for the stage adaptation of the comedy about three long-suffering office
workers who seize an opportunity to get revenge on their sexist, scheming boss.
The show retains the late-1970s setting of the movie — back in the days when
fax machines and electric typewriters were still considered cutting-edge
technology — and earned 15 Drama Desk nominations last year. “9 to 5” punches
in on Dec. 15.
Wharton Center goes green (so to speak) Feb. 8 when “Shrek the Musical” brings
the Oscar-winning DreamWorks Animation megahit to life. Set in the land of Far
Far Away, “Shrek” follows the adventures of an outcast ogre recruited to rescue
a captive princess and deliver her to the slimy clutches of the status-seeking
hit-studded career of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons is recalled in “Jersey
Boys,” opening Sept. 28, 2011. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s the group
regularly topped the charts with such songs as “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Sherry,”
“Let’s Hang On,” “Who Loves You” and “December 1963 (Oh What a Night)”; Valli
also enjoyed a healthy solo career, with such Top 10 successes as “My Eyes
Adored You,” “Swearin’ to God” and “Grease.” The show — which won the Tony as
best musical in 2006 — is currently in the midst of its fifth year on Broadway,
and has enjoyed highly successful engagements in Chicago, Las Vegas, Toronto
and London’s West End.
pair of special events is also part of the new season. A refreshed version of
the popular percussion extravaganza “Stomp” stomps in Jan. 21, and the touring
version of the 1920s sex-scandal musical “Chicago” arrives April 8, 2011.
on the Wharton schedule is a double dose of Shakespeare, courtesy of The Acting
Company. Founded in 1972 as an offshoot of Juilliard’s drama program, the group
has spawned such celebrated names as William Hurt, Kevin Kline, Christopher
Reeve, Patti LuPone and Jeffrey Wright. The Acting Company presents “Romeo and
Juliet” Feb. 10 and “The Comedy of Errors” Feb. 11 at the Pasant Theatre.
a slightly different spin on Shakespeare, there’s The Improvised Shakespeare
Company, the Chicago-based comedy troupe that creates Bard-style melodramas and
farces with the help of a few suggestions from the audience. They’ll visit the
Pasant April 2, 2011.