ASU Gammage nearly packed the house for Monday night’s big reveal of their 2012/13 “Broadway Across America” season, which featured film footage of selected shows, live performances by cast members from a couple of the shows and behind-the-scene details from Colleen Jennings-Roggensack, executive director for ASU Gammage and Arizona’s sole Tony Awards voter.
The poor dear has to schlep every year to 60 + Broadway shows, in addition to working the Broadway magic right here in her own backyard — and she’s got stories to tell about each and every experience. Folks who decided to forego this year’s in-person reveal in lieu of merely mousing their way to the details missed some gems. Take note for next time around.
Before Monday night’s event, much of the chatter around town seemed to center on “The Book of Mormon” — which won the 2011 Tony Award for best musical. I’ve seen it, and I loved it. But it’s not coming. Turns out we’re getting something even better — the 2011 Tony Award winner for best play. It’s “War Horse” — which is completely captivating. Even soul-stirring.
Consider yourself warned, because “War Horse” is the kind of show that transforms single ticket buyers into season subscribers — which means that folks who wait risk not having a shot at it. In theater world current season ticket holders typically get a chance to renew or updrade their seats before others can jump in. New subscribers come next, followed by folks in search of tickets to just a few shows here and there. But no one can predict what might remain after subscriptions are sold, because every house has only a certain number of seats.
The fine print for such things is available on the ASU Gammage website, as are dates and details about other shows headed our way — including “Anything Goes,” “The Addams Family,” “Cathy Rigby is Peter Pan,” “Memphis,” “Flashdance” and “Sister Act.” Praise the lord and pass the leg warmers!
Turns out ASU Gammage is also bringing back the Cameron Mackintosh production of “Les Miserables” that sold out during its last ASU Gammage run, as well as “Beauty and the Beast.” Both are special engagements, which means they’re not part of season ticket subscriptions. Another show is headed our way as well. Think Arizona Christmas meets Donny and Marie Osmond.
While patrons enjoyed Monday night’s event, ASU Gammage staffers were busy mounting posters for the newly-announced shows along a wall folks pass as they walk from box office to their seats. Yes, Lizabeth, I did have someone snap my photo with “Donny” — but only because I saw someone else do it first. Kissing it seemed inappropriate somehow with “Sister Act” so closeby.
Before the evening drew to a close, Jennings-Roggensack shared that ASU Gammage is already gearing up for its 50th anniversary, planning to raise funds that’ll help meet patron requests for things like sound improvements and additional women’s restrooms — plus further the venue’s diverse youth education and “community connection” programs.
I hit the ASU Gammage lobby as the formal program was drawing to a close, watching the monitor that showed a pair of passionate, powerful “Memphis” vocalists singing “Steal Your Rock ‘n’ Roll” onstage as a young mother and her toddler son danced along to the beat nearby.
Soon people poured out of the theater to enjoy cupcakes compliments of Butter & Me Bakeshop, which has a new storefront in Old Town Scottsdale, plus a bag of ASU Gammage goodies that included the very first edition of the new “gammbill” (their very own take on a “Playbill” program), which features local content and reflects a new partnership with ON Media Publications.
Something a woman said to her friend as they walked to the parking lot signaled the success of the evening, and excitement over the season. “This,” she exclaimed,” was so worth it!”
Note: Click here for ASU Gammage 2012/13 Broadway season details
Coming up: More community connections, Spring dance recitals