The Civic Center of Greater Des Moines announced the 2012-2013 season Monday evening in front of hundreds of Civic Center members. The event kicked off with a performance - and a hint of what was to come – from the Chicago company of Million Dollar Quartet. The foursome, performing as Jerry Lee Lewis, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins got the audience revved up with familiar tunes before turning the stage over to Civic Center President and CEO Jeff Chelesvig to announce the upcoming season.
Let’s get right down to it. Is it a strong lineup? You bet, and here is my take. Along with the previously announced Book of Mormon, the Civic Center will bring Les Misérables, War Horse, Jekyll & Hyde, and Million Dollar Quartet to Des Moines next year. My first thought was “next season will take a bite out of my wallet.” Not only is the five show Broadway series spectacular, but the add-on shows are also wonderful: Beauty and the Beast, Rock of Ages, and Jersey Boys.
I had speculated that the current Tony winner for Best Play, War Horse, may make a stop here on its’ first national tour because of the clout Des Moines has gained and the fact that Book of Mormon, the current Tony winner for Best Musical, is also stopping on its inaugural tour. Though a play is not always included in the season, War Horse will appeal to many different audiences and will be very well received.
Based on the popularity of Des Moines’ 2010 Jersey Boys run, Million Dollar Quartet should also play very well. The jukebox musical will appeal to the Civic Center’s core demographic who will know the music from its original debut, but it will also appeal to a younger demographic who has been exposed to the music through various artists and films that have incorporated those songs. Les Mis, which will stop as part of the 25th anniversary tour, has been here six times in the past. I am thrilled that Les Mis is playing Des Moines because I have missed it each time and it is a must see for a true theater aficionado. Despite the fact that it has been here many times, my feeling is that this classic will bring the crowds.
Jekyll & Hyde is the only production that comes out of nowhere. The show will be doing a short tour before heading to Broadway, and while getting a sneak peak does have a certain appeal, the pre-Broadway tryout is also the period in which all the kinks are worked out. The end product often differs from what was shown on the road – to the benefit of those who see it on Broadway.
From my perspective, announcing the biggest show of the season, Mormon, earlier this year had the effect of taking the wind out of the sails of the announcement because nothing could top it. That said, my excitement was peaked most by the fact that Jersey Boys is returning as an add-on to the series. Jersey Boys has an infectious quality that just makes it a pure joy to watch. And Beauty and the Beast, which ushered in Broadway’s “Disney” era, will appeal to families with children that were not even born when the production played here previously. Rock of Ages will be stopping for three shows only and is a must see for me because I missed it last season.
In addition to the Broadway series, the announcement also included the Dance Series, the Temple Theater Series, and the Family Series. The three show dance series has grown in popularity and next season looks to further that growth by bringing Garth Fagan Dance, Momix: Botanica, and Les Ballets Trockadero De Monte Carlo.