Knocking 'em out
TBPAC schedules a fan - friendly 2007-08 Broadway season.
By JOHN FLEMING
Published January 14, 2007
Judy Lisi hopes the best show is yet to come.
Today, Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center, of which Lisi is president, announces its 2007-08 Broadway season, and the lineup includes some surefire hits, such as return engagements of The Lion King and Radio City Christmas Spectacular.
There are also a pair of Tony Award winners for best musical - Avenue Q and The Drowsy Chaperone - plus an Elvis Presley jukebox show, All Shook Up.
Waiting in the wings, Lisi said, is Broadway's latest monster hit, Jersey Boys, the musical story of Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. She is negotiating with the show's producers to brings its tour to Tampa for its only Florida engagement next season.
"We're still looking at how long it's going to play here and the exact dates," Lisi said last week. "They don't want to make an official announcement until they determine that."
Jersey Boys, which opened on the road in San Francisco in December, would play multiple weeks at TBPAC. "The interesting thing is that men love Jersey Boys," Lisi said. "Usually for Broadway, women are the ticket buyers. For this show, there are a lot of men who want to see it."
The 2007-08 season is the first that TBPAC will present on its own, without longtime partner Live Nation, the largest U.S. promoter of touring theater. Its contract ends June 1.
"It was actually easier," Lisi said of putting together a season by herself. "When you're dealing directly with whoever the producer is, there's a little more efficiency than having to go through a third party."
Live Nation will present a 2007-08 season at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. Lisi doesn't see the Mahaffey schedule - The Wedding Singer, the 10 Tenors, Camelot and Sweeney Todd - as anything to lose sleep over.
"I don't really see it as competition at this point," she said. "If we weren't able to get the shows, it would be. The shows are first. If you can't get the shows, you can't sell the tickets. If you can get the shows, you can sell the tickets. We've got the shows; we'll sell the tickets. It's as simple as that."
TBPAC has about 10,000 subscribers to its Broadway series this season. That number figures to hold steady if not increase with The Lion King on the agenda. "The Lion King, of all the big shows, even Phantom of the Opera, has been the benchmark," Lisi said.
The first time The Lion King was at TBPAC, in the 2002-03 season, subscriptions topped 11,000. Ticket sales were just under $8.5-million over seven weeks.
Radio City Christmas Spectacular is another money spinner. In 2003-04, it grossed almost $6.2-million over four weeks in Tampa.
Avenue Q, which beat out Wicked for the 2004 Tony for best musical, is making a delayed appearance on tour. The adult-themed puppet show's first production away from Broadway was in Las Vegas, where it flopped.
"They made a tactical error," Lisi said of the show's producers. "The problem was that casino magnate Steve Wynn gave them an offer they couldn't refuse. He threw a lot of money at them. It was never right for Las Vegas."
In the gambling and entertainment mecca, spectacular productions such as Cirque du Soleil and Celine Dion generally do the best business.
"If you know the show, and you know Las Vegas, it was the wrong show for the wrong place. So it detoured, but I think it's going to have a happy life on the road."
The Drowsy Chaperone is a spoof of a 1920s musical that has done well in New York. The tour has not yet begun. "It's going to be of most interest, I think, to an audience that really follows Broadway musical theater," Lisi said.John Fleming can be reached at (727) 893-8716 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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2007-08 Broadway season at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center:
Nov. 6-11: All Shook Up
Dec. 6-30: Radio City Christmas Spectacular
Jan. 15-20, 2008: The Drowsy Chaperone
April 1-6, 2008: Avenue Q
May 8-June 22, 2008: The Lion King
For subscription information, call the TBPAC ticket office at (813) 229-7827 or toll-free 1-800-955-1045 or go to www.tbpac.org.