The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall announces more from its 2022-23 season
The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall announced its season of Broadway and dance shows a few months ago. Now, the hall’s executive director, Mary Bensel, has more to say about the rest of the season, which has been dubbed ‘A Whole New World’, both for its presentation Disney’s Aladdinand for his return to a fuller, more ‘normal’ year after the disruptions caused by Covid.
“Putting together a season is like doing a crossword puzzle,” says Bensel. “They want variety, shows for people of all ages.” That means a mix of Broadway, country, comedy and rock ‘n’ roll, she says.
Also this year, “I felt comedy was going to be big” as audiences look for laughs in the face of some troubled times. The comedy lineup includes a return visit from Jerry Seinfeld, who will be performing two shows on September 30 (“It doesn’t get any funnier than that,” she says), along with several newcomers to the Van Wezel stage, such as Nikki Glaser, Leanne Morgan and Joe Gato. Also in the comedy program: Jay Leno, Paul Reiser, Lewis Black, Daniel Tosh and a joint appearance by Rita Rudner and Robert Klein. Bensel says the hall may add “another or two or three” comedians as the season progresses.
Anyone who knows Bensel knows her love for Broadway shows. While Aladdin Perhaps the biggest show from the Broadway cast (and Bensel promises that “you’re going to see a magic carpet pull across the stage”), it’s also looking forward to Tina Fey’s tour mean girls Musical (“so fun and appealing to a younger audience, by which I mean people in their 40s or so”). And the previously announced Broadway lineup also includes classics like my beautiful lady and Chicago and musical versions of hit films tootsie and Naturally blond.
Bensel, who says she’s been trying for years to bring performance art company Blue Man Group into the arena, finally gets her wish as the cast bring a whole new show to the stage; She advises ticket buyers to “sit up front and get messy.” When it comes to music, she highlights Bonnie Raitt (but be warned, tickets are almost sold out), Judy Collins (whose Wildflowers concert will feature a huge orchestra), Kat and Dave Show (this is Katharine McPhee and husband David). Foster, whom Bensel met a little backstage) and the Irish sounds of Celtic Woman, Riverdance, Ireland with Michael (Londra) and The High Kings and Gaelic Storm.
The previously announced dance lineup includes Momix with a production of Alice (in Wonderland) with projections and puppets; Pilobolus celebrates its 50th birthdayth Anniversary; and Ailey II, the younger, feeder dancer company from the acclaimed Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre.
And there are pop and rock artists from Foreigner to Michael Bolton to Three Dog Night to look forward to, along with returning favorites like Dave Koz, Jim Brickman and tribute shows to the Beatles (Rain) and ABBA, which according to Bensel are always sold out.
One name has not yet been announced: the performers for the annual gala show hosted by the Van Wezel Foundation as a fundraiser. But Bensel says there’s “an offer,” and that show could be announced soon.
For the full schedule of the 2022-23 shows see vanwezel.org. The public presale date is September 10, and tickets can be purchased at the box office, by phone at (941) 263-6799, or on the website.