Broadway in Tucson Taps into Full Season with 42nd Street, with Plenty More to Come

The thunderous applause couldn't even drown out the tap-dancing explosion that is 42nd Street, Broadway in Tucson's road show in town through Sunday.

Yes, the storyline is cliché. It's really just an excuse for a huge contingent of some very fine dancers and singers to wow us with their tap shoes, show off an inexorable parade of outrageously flashy costumes and sing some of the iconic songs by Harry Warren and Al Dubin that remind us why America fell in love with Broadway: “I Only Have Eyes for You,” “We're in the Money,” “You're Beginning to Be a Habit With Me” and “Lullaby of Broadway.”

About half way through the evening, it dawned on me why this revival of the 1980 Tony-winning show seems so refreshing. It does what Broadway was born to do. There are no flying monkeys or chandeliers crashing or helicopters landing on stage. The special effects which Broadway shows have come to rely on in the past few decades, are absent, but they are not missed. The special effects, in this case, are the singers and dancers themselves. There are no gee-gaws to clog up the work of talented, well-trained and hardworking folks that don't skip a beat.

This is just the beginning for Broadway in Tucson, though, and more amazement is in store for the 2016-2017 season.

First up is the ever popular, and ever relevant Cabaret. This production originated at the Roundabout Theatre Company and won the Tony Award for producers Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall. The John Kander, Fred Ebb and Joe Masteroff musical gives us Sally Bowles, the raunchy emcee and the strange crew of the Kit-Kat Club that find themselves unable to avoid what is happening in pre-World War II Germany. Is life really a cabaret? It runs September 20-25, 2016.

Next up is The Sound of Music, November 29-December 4. Historically speaking its story happens around the same time as that of Cabaret. Directed by three-time Tony Award winner Jack O’Brien, the hills come alive for the Von Trapps as they try not only to break in a new nanny but to escape the encroaching Third Reich.

Dirty Dancing was a hit movie, so it makes perfect sense that it could be a Broadway musical, right? Dirty Dancing-The Classic Story on Stage, will try to out-do the movie on the Centennial Hall stage January 24-29, 2017. And yes, that's complete with “Hungry Eyes,” “Hey Baby,” “Do You Love Me?” and the unforgettable “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life.”

Working with the iconic sounds of '60s R&B, Motown the Musical will fill the stage February 21-26, 2017. Berry Gordy was a nobody but rose to being a really big somebody by launching the careers of Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, Smokey Robinson and others. It features classic songs such as “My Girl” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.”

From shoe factory to high fashion, Kinky Boots is based on true events and features Cyndi Lauper's music and lyrics, for which she won a Tony. Asking if you can you really change the world by changing your mind, it plays March 14-19, 2017.

Finally, The Bodyguard, based on the movie with Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston, will run April 12-16, 2017. There will be plenty of familiar tunes, not the least of which is “I Will Always Love You.”

Those are the main season's shows, but Broadway in Tucson is also bringing in some extra fun. Mamma Mia!'s farewell tour will be featured this October 21-23, and A Night with Janis Joplin will surely give us more than “just a little piece” of her heart. That happens March 30-31, 2017.

For more information on individual shows and to check out season tickets, visit the Broadway in Tucson website.