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Wharton Center announces 2023-24 Broadway schedule

The cast of the North American Tour of "Moulin Rouge! The Musical", coming to MSU's Wharton Center for two weeks in April 2024.
Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade
The cast of the North American Tour of "Moulin Rouge! The Musical", coming to MSU's Wharton Center for two weeks in April 2024.

The Wharton Center at Michigan State University is announcing its slate of Broadway shows coming to East Lansing next season.

In October, the Wharton Center begins the season with Aaron Sorkin’s recent adaptation of To Kill A Mockingbird. Michigan’s Jeff Daniels played Atticus Finch in the original New York production. Casting has not yet been set for East Lansing.

Wharton Executive Director Eric Olmscheid is happy to begin the season with a non-musical for the first time in years, saying “I think so many people love Harper Lee’s work, and the story, and how it represents America of a bygone era, but also an era that is still very omnipresent today.”

Next up will be Hairspray in late November and early December. It’s an adaptation of the John Waters film. It tells the story of a girl in 1960s Baltimore who wants to dance on TV, and how music can contribute to racial harmony. Citing the show’s big number, Olmscheid says Hairspray is the quintessential story of “you can’t stop the beat. It’s upbeat, it’s fun, it’s a feel-good musical, but also with this very serious tone and a really beautiful heart. And the music is just a delight.”

In January of 2024, Mamma Mia! arrives. This will be the newest version of the show that brings the music of Abba to life. Olmscheid says this production marks the show’s silver anniversary. “It’s been here a number of times here at Wharton Center,” Olmscheid explains, “and we are just delighted to have it back because the original choreographer and the original director are reuniting to bring this new 25th anniversary production around.”

February of 2024 will see Funny Girl on the Wharton stage. The current revival of the show that made Barbra Streisand famous is still running in New York. Olmscheid says “Harvey Fierstein revised the book and the script, so it feels fresh and new, yet it’s still set in the turn of the century, and really, it’s the story of Fanny Brice, the real-life Broadway star who overcame obstacles to become brighter than the brightest lights of Broadway.”

Moulin Rouge! The Musical next April is the only show on the schedule that will be here for two weeks. It’s also still running on Broadway. Inspired by the Baz Luhrmann film using contemporary music to depict turn-of-the-century Paris, Olmscheid explains that the show continues that focus, adding “it has that same grandeur and amazingness that we know and love from that film, but it was updated for today in the sense that they use more current music, music of the last decade, pop music that you might even still hear on the radio still today.”

Closing the season in May of next year is Six. Olmscheid describes the musical as a nonstop concert where the six wives of Henry VIII are modeled after stars like Beyonce and Nikki Minaj. “Each of the queens is inspired by a different diva or pop queen that we know and love, so the music is high energy,” Olmscheid concludes. “All original music, but it’s high energy and really fun.”

In all, these six programs represent 21 Tony Awards and 50 nominations. For the first time ever, Wharton is making a payment plan available for tickets.

The rest of the Wharton Center schedule will be announced in a few weeks.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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