(New Philadelphia, OH) – The Performing Arts Center at Kent State University at Tuscarawas announced its 2023-24 season highlighted by the return of Broadway with musicals Jesus Christ Superstar, Annie and On Your Feet! Other highlights include the music of Scotty McCreery, Micky Dolenz and Daniel O’Donnell as well as comedian Joe Gatto and author and humorist Garrison Keillor. The full season is comprised of a diverse line-up featuring additional concerts, family shows, dance and comedies.
“Because of the unending support of our community, The Performing Arts Center continues to bring people from throughout the region together to experience extraordinary live performances,” said Dr. Brad Bielski, dean and chief administrative officer of Kent State Tuscarawas. “I encourage everyone to discover our 23/24 season full of those extraordinary moments which we believe will create life-long memories.”
Broadway at the PAC
Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, a new mesmerizing production of the iconic musical phenomenon Jesus Christ Superstar returns to the stage. With lyrics and music by Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony winners Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jesus Christ Superstar is appealing to both theater audiences and concert music fans. This production pays tribute to the historic 1971 Billboard Album of the Year while creating a modern, theatrical world that is uniquely fresh and inspiring.
Annie is a celebration of family, optimism and the American spirit and remains the ultimate cure for all the hard knocks life throws your way. Holding onto hope when times are tough can take an awful lot of determination, and sometimes, an awful lot of determination comes in a surprisingly small package. Little Orphan Annie has reminded generations of theatergoers that sunshine is always right around the corner, and now the best-loved musical of all time is set to return in a new production – just as you remember it and just when we need it most.
On Your Feet! is the inspiring true story about heart, heritage and two people who believed in their talent—and each other—to become an international sensation: Gloria and Emilio Estefan. Now their story is an all-new exhilarating original musical winning the hearts of critics and audiences alike featuring some of the most iconic songs of the past quarter-century, including “Rhythm is Gonna Get You,” “Conga,” “Get On Your Feet,” “Don’t Want To Lose You Now,” “1-2-3” and “Coming Out of the Dark.”
Concerts scheduled for the season include country star Scotty McCreery, Micky Dolenz, the Voice of The Monkees, Irish crooner Daniel O’Donnell, the 90’s hit band Blessid Union of Souls and the 7-foot sad clown, Puddles Pity Party, whose golden voice is comparable to rock legends like Tom Jones and Freddie Mercury. Fans of nostalgia will love the immersive concert-style theater show The Simon & Garfunkel Story, Bruce in the USA, the World’s #1 Tribute to the E Street Band’s musical legacy and Boy Band Review that will transport audience members back in time to the days of frosted tips and hunky front-men professing their undying love.
For those looking for a laugh, coming to New Philadelphia is comedian, actor, and producer, Joe Gatto who is best known for the hit TV shows “Impractical Jokers” and “The Misery Index.” Also making a tour stop is Dry Bar Comedy, a wildly popular online series that offers clean “Comedy for Everyone”. This brand-new tour of live shows features comedians who’ve become Dry Bar fan favorites. Also on the season is Garrison Keillor for an evening of stand-up, storytelling, audience song, and poetry.
Home for the Holidays
Several shows will bring with them the joys of the holiday season for the whole family. Diamond Rio celebrates the season with their Holiday & Hits tour. Christmas In Killarney, An Irish Christmas Celebration is set in Killarney, Ireland in the late 1920’s and shows what it means to celebrate Christmas the ‘Irish’ way. And for those looking for a holiday laugh, look no further than Away in the Basement: A Church Basement Ladies Christmas.
And More Family Fun!
Family fun is also guaranteed with The Foolers who bring an evening of interactive and irreverent jaw-dropping illusions curated by icons Penn & Teller to the stage. A clean comedy experience for the entire family,Buckets N Boards is a hilarious and high-energy show chock-full of amazing percussion, ridiculous songs, spectacular tap dancing, inventive instrumentation, and an incredible variety of musical talents that will leave you laughing for the rest of your week!
“Dance has been noticeably absent from our schedule over the past few years,” said David Mitchell, general manager for the Performing Arts Center. “When I discovered the show Beyond Babel, I knew that needed to change.” Inspired by Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, Beyond Babel is a critically acclaimed dance theatre show about the division of families, friends, and a community. Mitchell adds, “The show is choreographed by Keone & Mari Madrid, an award-winning husband and wife team who have also created dance for some of the giants in the entertainment world including Justin Bieber, BTS, Billie Eilish, Ed Sheeran, Flying Lotus & Kendrick Lamar.”
Continuing its commitment to educational outreach, the season will feature several artists who will provide workshop and performance experiences to local students. “Our educational programs give local students the opportunity to perform side by side with internationally recognized musicians for once-in-a-lifetime experiences on our stage. We’d love nothing more than to enhance that experience with 1,000 audience members adding energy and excitement to their performance,” explained Mitchell. “This season we are introducing the PACK the PAC pricing initiative where every ticket for these designated shows is only $15. We hope that the community comes out and fills every seat and supports these local students while also experiencing fantastic music.” Artists who are part of the PACK the PAC series include singer, songwriter and international fingerstyle champion guitarist Christie Lenée, the steel pan centric Jonathan Scales Fourchestra and the band Good Shot Judy who harkens back to those formative decades from the 1930s on, when small jazz combos, big brass bands and crooners where everywhere on American airwaves.
Returning for a second season is a world music and food lobby event. “Last year we transformed the lobby into an Italian piazza for a full immersion experience,” explained Mitchell. “Everyone had a blast and immediately asked what we were going to do next. This year we’ll transport patrons to Germany and turn the lobby into a German Festplatz, full of music, food, bier and dancing for those brave enough, while we celebrate Oktoberfest.” The evening features music by Cleveland’s own The Shotskis and includes a four-course meal of authentic German fare.
“Another change to the season is perhaps more of a mindset shift than something new,” continued Mitchell. “While the PAC has been the home of the Tuscarawas Philharmonic for the past 13 years, we’ve operated as two separate organizations with two separate seasons. To better serve our arts patrons, we’ve moved to a one season approach. This will allow audiences to have more flexibility and price savings on any performance at the PAC, regardless of show.” Clare Cannizzaro, executive director of the Tuscarawas Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus added, “We are thrilled to partner more closely with the Performing Arts Center in offering our community a unified experience. Whether coming to a Broadway show, a Philharmonic concert or a night of comedy, together we’ll celebrate the power of a shared community experience in the breathtaking space of the PAC.” Highlighting the collaboration of the two organizations is when The Texas Tenors, the most successful music group and third highest selling artist in the history of America’s Got Talent, are joined on stage by the Tuscarawas Philharmonic and Chorus for a full orchestral experience of everything from Country to Classical to rousing patriotic favorites. Other concerts on the season include A Musical World Tour featuring clarinetist Dan Gilbert, Home for the Holidays with the Adult and Childrens Choruses, Mystical Impressions with the Philharmonic joined by the Dover High School String Orchestra and The Three B’s featuring violinist Jessica Lee and cellist Dane Johansen from the Cleveland Orchestra.
“Continuing partnerships with our sponsors are a testament to these organizations’ commitment to the arts and assisting us in enriching the lives of the community around us,” added Bielski. “We are excited for the Tuscarawas County Community Foundation to return as our full season sponsor. And we are grateful for the continued support of First Federal Community Bank, Alonovus and Attorney Richard W. Hinig as Platinum Sponsors and Supporting Sponsor Rodriguez’s House of Stones. Western Reserve Public Media also continues as our official media partner for the season.”
A complete list of performances and ticket prices are online at www.kent.edu/tuscpac. PAC members will be able to purchase tickets to the 2023-24 season from June 12 to June 21. Discounted tickets are available through pre-sale packages of four shows or more and can be purchased beginning June 22. Single-show ticket sales begin June 26. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Performing Arts Center box office, by calling 330-308-6400 or online at www.kent.edu/tuscpac. The box office is open weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Free and convenient parking is available for all shows. The Performing Arts Center at Kent State Tuscarawas is located at 330 University Dr. NE, in New Philadelphia.
Audrey Mattevi, Reporting