Wharton Center 2020-2021 Season Announced - Coronavirus Prep and Classical

May 18, 2020

Monday on WKAR, we brought you an introduction to the newly announced 2020-2021 season of the Wharton Center of Performing Arts and their popular Broadway selections. Today, WKAR’s Jamie Paisley digs deeper with some more of next season’s selections, plus what the Wharton Center plans on doing, at this point, about coronavirus concerns and public health. 


"We’re working with industry professionals to see what options are out there for us."  says Lisa Rentz, Wharton Center’s Director of Marketing & Communications "But a couple of the things that we're already planning are implementing touchless fixtures in our restrooms, automatic hand-sanitizers throughout our facility, and of course we're increasing our cleaning procedures and having them come in more than in the past. We're also doing touchless ticket scanning procedures so that there'll be no handling of tickets once you get in the building. Of course, PPE, Personal Protection Equipment, for all Wharton Center staff and volunteers, and they we're also going to be stationing ushers outside, to help with door service. So anything that can be done to limit touching or exposure is something we're looking at and we hope to have it implimented by the time our season begins."

Though there is one group of Wharton Center regulars that remain a question mark, the Michigan State University student workers. Those in the ticket office and those serving as ushers. That part is uncertain particularly as on-campus learning at MSU is still up in the air. "Sure." says Rentz. "I think we're lucky that we have a lot of volunteers who are adults that can help us. But we've also found, just in scheduling our ticket office to reopen, to processing order forms, we've found that students maybe who have graduated or who live in the area are still looking for work, and want to work, even if school is not in session. So we've been lucky to have that loyal following that will be back to help us in that capacity." 

Echoing that statement by Wharton Center’s Lisa Rentz is it’s executive director, Mike Brand. "The one goal that we're looking at, Jamie, for reentry of our patrons and ticketholders is: try and make them feel very safe and comfortable at the Wharton Center. So, if they have any questions, they can please contact us. All us are listed on the website. We are keeping up with industry and [Michigan State] University standards. And I think it's very fortunate that we have a very renown President [Samuel L. Stanley], who is one of the top epidemiologists in the world. So, we're trying to make everything safe, enjoyable, and re-integrate the arts into the lives of our whole community."

As for more about the newly announced Wharton Center season of visitors, on the classical side, the first event will be in January, as the Canadian Brass come as part of their 50th anniversary tour. "It seems like a long time," says Brand. "I remember when they came out, I was still playing professionally and I thought 'That is a really beautiful brass quintet, you know?' It had this huge sound of a brass, brass choir, and they became a sensation."

In April, the Trondheim Soloists bring with them, the American cellist and MacArthur 'Genius' Grant recipient, Alisa Weilerstein to play Haydn’s 2 Cello Concerti, bread and butter pieces for any cellist. "I love her playing. She reminds me of a lot of great musicians who played from the heart. And her technical skills are incredible also, but she's got a lot of great music in her."

Finally on May 4th, one of the greatest violinists of our era comes to East Lansing for a limited engagement. "Itzhak Perlman! We are doing, it's a special concert he's done. He's done six performances last year to try this new idea out. And as soon as I heard about it, I called the agency and said 'You know, we want to do this next year.' She said, 'Well, don't you want to wait and see how it goes?' I said, 'It's going to be beautiful.' And it was beautiful, and so we're on the list first, so we're on one of the six performances."

You can find the full list of the Wharton Center’s newly announced 2020-2021 season online at WhartonCenter.com

WHARTON CENTER 2020-2021 SEASON

Broadway at Wharton Center
Mean Girls - Dec. 8-13, 2020
Jesus Christ Superstar - Jan 26-31, 2021
Pretty Woman: The Musical - Feb. 16-21, 2021
Cats - May 11-16, 2021
Disney's Frozen - July 7-18, 2021

Classical
Canadian Brass 50th Anniversary - Jan. 12, 2021
Academy of St. Martin in the Fields Wind Ensemble - Mar. 21, 2021
Trondheim Soloists w/ Alisa Weilerstein, cello - Apr. 15, 2021
An Evening with Itzhak Perlman - May 4, 2021

Variety
‘S Wonderful: The Music of George Gershwin - Oct. 29, 2020
Celtic Woman: The Best of Christmas - Dec. 15, 2020
Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn - Jan. 14, 2021
Renée Elisa Goldsberry - Jan. 16, 2021
Gina Chavez - Jan 27, 2021
SŌ Percussion - Feb. 28, 2021
Kristin Chenoweth In Concert- For the Girls - Apr. 3, 2021
The Moth Mainstage - Jun. 10, 2021
Blue Man Group - Jun. 22-23, 2021

Jazz
Southern Journey: An Afro-American Celebration! - Jan. 23, 2021
Alicia Olatuja: Intuition: Songs From The Minds Of Women - Feb. 11, 2021
An Evening with Branford Marsalis - Apr. 14, 2021

Illuminate
The Child Dreams - Feb. 4 & 7, 2021

Theatre
Second City: Imperfect Union - Sep. 28-30, 2020
Meow Meow - Apr. 27, 2021

Dance
Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE - Feb. 3, 2021
Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre: Beauty and the Beast - Mar. 16 & 17*, 2021

Act One Family
The Tortoise and the Hair – The Next Gen - Oct. 18, 2020
The Pout-Pout Fish - Nov. 1*, 2020 
The Little Mermaid - Feb. 6, 2021
Into the West - Mar. 27 & 28, 2021

*Sensory-Friendly Performances