Arts & Culture

‘Memphis,’ ‘Hair’ among Theater League’s 2013-14 offerings

The Tony Award-winning new musicals “Memphis” and “Million Dollar Quartet,” both celebrating ground-breaking rock music of the 1950s, are coming to Wichita.

So is the recent Tony-winning revival of that mind-blowing psychedelic milestone, “Hair,” and the unstoppably popular – if not exactly critically acclaimed – new musical about everybody’s favorite ghouls next door, “The Addams Family.”

All four make up the 2013-2014 season of touring Broadway shows put together for Wichita by Kansas City-based Theater League – the same folks behind this year’s “The Lion King” and “Jersey Boys” (in town right now).

Season tickets range from $100 to $250 for the four shows, and current season ticket holders will be given until April 8 to renew through WichitaTix at 316-219-4849. After that, season tickets will be opened up to everyone. Individual show tickets won’t be available until later in the year.

Theater League is offering a bonus fifth show through a special performance of “American Idiot,” based on the music of Green Day. The date and ticket prices are not available yet. Although “American Idiot” is not part of the season package, season ticket holders will be given priority in securing seats.

“Memphis,” “Million Dollar Quartet” and “American Idiot” all faced off against each other for the 2010 Tony Award as best musical. “Memphis” won the top prize, although the others took awards in other categories.

The new season runs from the end of October to mid-April. Here’s a capsule look at what’s waiting in the wings:

“Million Dollar Quartet” (Oct. 29-31) – This 2010 jukebox musical by Floyd Mutrux and Colin Escott dramatizes the accidental, once-in-a-lifetime meeting and impromptu jam session by Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis that took place on Dec. 4, 1956, at Sun Records in Memphis, Tenn. Among the 22 songs are such classics as “Blue Suede Shoes,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Hound Dog,” “Great Balls of Fire” and “See You Later, Alligator.”

“The Addams Family” (Nov. 19-21) – Based on the creepy characters created by New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams, this 2010 campy romp follows the delightfully macabre misadventures of Gomez and Morticia, their kids Pugsley and Wednesday, crazy Uncle Fester and, of course, their butler, Lurch. It’s by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice (“Jersey Boys” writers) with music by Andrew Lippa ranging from goofy ballad to florid flamenco to jazzy vaudeville. Despite sniffy Broadway critics, the show proved to be wildly popular with audiences, running at capacity with weekly grosses behind only “Wicked” and “The Lion King” during its original run.

“Hair” (March 18-20, 2014) – Created by James Rado and Gerome Ragni with indelible music by Galt MacDermot, this “American Tribal Love-Rock Musical” astonished, scandalized and forever changed Broadway in 1968 during the height of the make-love-not-war fervor with its brash audacity and flash of nudity. Among its legacy: “Aquarius,” “I Got Life,” “Easy to Be Hard,” “What a Piece of Work Is Man,” “Let the Sunshine In.”

“Memphis” (April 15-17, 2014) – Winner of four Tonys, including best musical of 2010, this show by David Bryan (of Bon Jovi fame) and Joe DiPietro (“I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change”) is inspired by real-life Dewey Phillips, one of the first white DJs to popularize and celebrate black music. The roof-raising original rock musical (Tony winner for best score and orchestrations) also tells of the romance – forbidden and dangerous in the segregated South of that time – between the DJ and a black singer he thinks should be a star.

Bonus: “American Idiot” (January 2014) – Based on punk rock band Green Day’s concept album of the same name, this 2010 musical tells of three disaffected young men rebelling against their stifling suburban lives and parental restrictions and fleeing security to find adventures in the outside world. Among songs are “Jesus of Suburbia,” “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” and “Last of the American Girls.”