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Wharton Center 2022-23 schedule brings 'Wicked' back, plus 4 classical music programs


Talia Suskaer
Allison Bailey
Cleavant Derricks
Curt Hansen
Amanda Fallon Smith
DJ Plunkett
Sharon Sachs
Joan Marcus
Allison Bailey & Talia Suskauer in the North American Tour of 'Wicked'

The Broadway slate also includes 'Jagged Little Pill,' 'Jesus Christ Superstar,' and more.

The announcement of the Wharton Center’s Broadway schedule is widely anticipated every spring.

Wharton’s just-released Broadway season for 2022-23 includes six shows, starting with Pretty Woman: The Musical. Wharton Center Executive Director Mike Brand says this British production, based on the Julia Roberts/Richard Gere movie, arrives after a pandemic-related cancellation, December 13th through the 18th.

“It’s an incredible show,” Brand said. “It follows the movie very closely, so people feel like they know it and they feel comfortable with it. It’s really a well done show, and the same producers are bringing it back to the United States, so it did really well in New York too, so it’s a great evening out.”

Jagged Little Pill, based on the songs of Alanis Morissette, will be at Wharton starting January 31st of next year. Brand says it attracts a different audience.

“It has its own audience, which we always look for, trying to keep Broadway inclusive to a lot of different demographical groups. This one has a lot of the American songwriter audience, the rock crowd. It just follows suit to what we try and do. It was the big show in New York right before the lockdown.”

In March of 2023, another musical inspired by a movie, Beetlejuice, comes to East Lansing. Connor Gallagher, who has run the Take It From The Top musical theater workshops at Wharton, did the choreography. Brand describes Beetlejuice as “a fun night, and it has its own audience. Very different than the other two shows, so we’re looking at reaching and extending the invite to come to the Wharton Center to a lot of different people through these type of shows that are being programmed for next season. It's kind of set up to appeal to a lot of audiences, different audiences.”

The next Broadway show at Wharton will be Tina – The Tina Turner Musical, next April. Brand says fans of the artist will be pleased.

“If you want to go out and have a good time listening to that great music that Ike and Tina Turner have done, and just to look how this woman has survived a very difficult life to get where she is? It’s just an incredible American story,” he said.

Maybe the biggest news on the schedule is the return of Wicked for 19 days next May. Brand says Wharton will be one of the first venues to get Wicked post-pandemic, “and it’s got generation after generation of families coming here. You see a lot of grandmas, mothers, daughters, grandkids. It’s just something that’s never going to run out of an audience, because there’s always going to be the next generation.”

Rounding out the Broadway slate is a production of Jesus Christ Superstar in June next year.

“It’s a musical that hasn’t been done a lot in the last decade, and this production is an excellent production, and I think it’s going to reignite itself,” Brand concluded. “It’s just one of those musicals that people love the music and they want to come see it.”

Classical music also coming to the Wharton Center

Along with announcing the Broadway musicals coming to East Lansing next season, MSU’s Wharton Center is unveiling its slate of classical music programming for 2022-23.

The Wharton Center will bring in lots of music next season, including acts like Black Violin, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Jazz at Lincoln Center, but they’re especially excited about their classical lineup.

The first of their four classical events brings the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with Grammy Award-winning violinist Nicola Benedetti on October 18. Wharton Center senior marketing manager Ryonn Clute is particularly excited about bringing strong female soloists like Benedetti to East Lansing.

“She has really developed a strong relationship with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, so it will be great to see her coming with the orchestra, and witnessing that burgeoning relationship,” Clute said. “Her career is really on fire right now. She’s doing a Bruch violin concerto as part of that feature, that performance.”

Next on the schedule is another of those strong female soloists Clute is excited about. Alisa Weilerstein appears on January 26th. Clute says Weilerstein’s program will include Bach’s first, third and fifth cello suites, adding “That first cello suite is obviously the one that people know the most. It’s just this gorgeous piece for the ages, for sure. That recording, she had done all six of the Bach cello suites, and that became a best-selling recording over the last couple of years, so we’re excited that she’s bringing that, certainly.”

Imani Winds will return to MSU next March 25th. Clute says they’re planning a program made up entirely of composers of color, including a piece commissioned by the Wharton Center.

“Rina Esmail’s The Light Is The Same is one of the pieces. A Wayne Shorter piece is on there, and also Damien Sneed’s commission Azul Verde, which is focusing on diversity, equity, and inclusion,” Clute said.

Lastly, the New York Philharmonic String Quartet will perform on April 6th of next year. According to Clute: “It’s the principal players of the orchestra, and they are coming with a program of Mozart, and also Schubert, along with some other pieces, so we’re excited about that as well, and that will be a new one for us as far as those artists.”

Along with Mozart’s Quartet No. 19 in C Major, Dissonance, the New York Philharmonic String Quartet is planning Schubert’s String Quartet No. 14 in D Minor, Death and the Maiden.

In addition to classical programming and Broadway musicals, the Wharton Center schedule includes the Blue Man Group, the 50th anniversary of Mummenschanz, Tiempo Libre and many other programs including Act One Family Events.

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