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What Broadway has in store for Greensboro

by Lenise Willis

BY LENISE WILLIS lenise@yesweekly.com

Several times this year the Greensboro Coliseum’s War Memorial Auditorium will transform into every theater lovers dream, New York City’s Broadway, and it’s all due to this season’s Triad Best of Broadway Series.

Created in 1997, the Triad Best of Broadway Series has brought a tremendous selection of Broadway shows to Greensboro for more than a decade.

“The Best of Broadway Series is a huge component of our local arts scene,” said Andrew Brown, public relations manager at Greensboro Coliseum. “War Memorial Auditorium is the only local theatre in the Triad region large enough to host Broadway touring productions so these performances are really a must-see for the serious theatre fan.”

Brown says that last year’s series was very successful and so they are continuing with a similar format for this season, which includes: Fiddler on the Roof (Dec. 5), a jubilant and humorous musical about love, hope, family and traditions; Blue Man Group (Jan. 9), who will bring a touch of Las Vegas in their concert of comedy, popular music and multimedia, and of course, their ever-so-famous blue body paint; STOMP (April 30), a unique, musical dance troupe that performs using unordinary instruments such as brooms and trashcans; and Dreamgirls (May 29), a musical about a singing trio, the Dreams, fashioned after the stories and aspirations of such rising R&B artists as the Supremes in the ’60s.

“We try to diversify the programming as much as possible so that everyone can enjoy a well-rounded lineup of shows that appeals to subscribers and attracts new patrons,” Brown said.

“Our subscribers prefer the series to be a mix of new shows and returning favorite ‘classics’ and we are continuing that trend. In 2011-12, return engagements of Riverdance and Cats did extremely well, particularly in individual sales surpassing projections, and we hope to see that same type of interest for STOMP and Fiddler on the Roof which have been part of past Best of Broadway Series.”

This year’s lineup contains two series debuts: Blue Man Group and Dreamgirls. “In surveying our subscribers as to which shows they would like to see come to Greensboro, these were two of the most popular responses so we expect high interest in both,” Brown continued. “Ideally, over the course of the entire series, the shows should attract a diverse audience and we really think these four engagements will do that. There’s truly something for everyone.”

Brown himself is looking forward to the Blue Man Group performance. “I think Blue Man Group can potentially be a huge hit and hopefully sales will be strong enough that we add a second performance,” Brown said. “It’s an incredibly fun and entertaining show that transcends all demographics. I know several people — both young and older, male and female — who have seen it in other cities and they all loved it. If you have never been, I highly recommend checking it out.”

Individuals interested in season ticket packages, which start at $150, should act soon in order to get the best seats possible for all four events, and any new subscriber who purchases before Aug. 31 will save $50.

Tickets for individual performances will be for sale beginning in the fall; the exact date is yet to be announced.

As for all the chatter about getting a new performing arts center in Greensboro, Brown says in theory the Best of Broadway series would be hosted there.

“There have been discussions of coliseum staff managing the new facility if it is built, but as you may know there are still many factors still to be finalized,” Brown said. “Certainly, a new [performing arts center] could help attract the latest and most popular touring productions. It could be a huge boost to the selection and number of Broadway shows presented in Greensboro.”

Of course, this is assuming both that the new center gets a green light, and that it won’t have trouble competing with nearby Durham and Charlotte’s centers, where Broadway tours already schedule stops.

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