Tucson, AZ

Broadway Returning to Tucson!

Greyson F

The show will go on.Gwen King/Unsplash

If you are someone who lives for live entertainment, this past year has been a rough one for you. Live performances have, more or less, come to a standstill in greater Tucson. For the first several months of the pandemic, there were no live options anywhere. Symphony orchestras from around the world tried to keep the music alive with virtual concerts, but there is a big difference between a live, in-person event and a YouTube-like video. 

More recently, small productions have started back up. You may have taken in a live musical performer somewhere around town, with many bars and restaurants offering outdoor entertainment with social distancing. This may have helped offer a bit of the live-performance taste you’ve been missing, but when only a handful of people are allowed to attend a performance, it not only takes away from the listening experience, it makes it difficult for the performer to give a complete performance with the lacking audience interaction. 

All of this, however, is set to change. A collection of Tucson performing arts organizations has announced they have plans to fully come back this fall. They believe this will give the general public enough time to receive their vaccinations, which in turn will allow for closer contact with strangers and other members of the performing art-loving community.

Centennial Hall is the biggest player in this. The theater regularly brings in traveling Broadway shows, but it completely shut its doors back in March of last year. It has been difficult for the concert hall and other live performing venues around town as many have lost an entire year of revenue. 

The on-staff musical performers at Centennial Hall did partake in a handful of outdoor events over the last year. They did what they could to keep the music alive, but it fails to compare with what a full-house musical performance at the venue offers, both in revenue and enjoyment levels (for both the performers and the audience). 

Currently, according to Mario DiVetta (and reported first by Tucson.com), the general manager of Broadway In Tucson, the group that schedules traveling Broadway shows in Centennial Hall, has said there are currently scheduled to be 11 productions and a total of 94 performances for the 2021-2022 calendar year. If all the shows go as planned it will end up being the busiest year in the history of Centennial Hall. 

There are several reasons for the mass booking of live shows, not only for the theater but for live touring productions as well. Everyone is hurting after the past year, so the need to bring in additional revenue is necessary. On top of it all, most parties believe sell-out attendance will not be normal. Certain opening night productions might see near sellouts, but for most shows, overall attendance will be down. To help make up for that the added shows will help make it easier for individuals wanting to go to a show but who might be a bit skittish about sitting in such a massive audience. 

Centennial Hall will include several major touring productions, including Hamilton, Jersey Boys, and Come From Away. Beyond Broadway productions at Centennial Hall, the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, which sets up shop at the Tucson Music Hall, is bringing in a new executive director, so the season dates and performances have not yet been announced. The best way to stay up to date on the production schedule for the Tucson Music Hall and other live venues around town is to follow them on Facebook. You’ll receive updated scheduling notifications here first. 

As for the Centennial Hall Broadway lineup, the full season begins with Alton Brown Live: Beyond the Eats, and is followed up with Hamilton, My Fair Lady, The Simon & Garfunkel Story, Wicked, The Band’s Visit, Jersey Boys, Tootsie, Hadestown, Come From Away, and Pretty Woman: The Musical

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