The upcoming Broadway in Akron season offers a four-show mix of old and new, with three of the shows offering a clear message of female empowerment.

“The goal here was to have a nice, diverse offering of shows” at the series at E.J. Thomas Hall, said David Greene, senior vice president of programming at Playhouse Square.

The newest shows coming to Akron next season are “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” chronicling music legend Carole King's fight to get into the record business and rise to fame, and “Waitress,” about a woman trapped in a loveless marriage who must write her own personal recipe for happiness.

The older shows — the classic “Fiddler on the Roof” and “The Color Purple,” the musical based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel — are revivals.

“They're both reimagined, which is exciting,” Greene said.

Here's the the schedule:

• “Fiddler on the Roof,” Oct. 15-16. Tony Award-winning director Bartlett Sher and his team bring a fresh vision to the beloved 1964 masterpiece by Joseph Stein (book) and Pulitzer Prize winners Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics). The new production features athletic, authentic movement and dance from acclaimed Israeli choreographer Hofesh Shechter, based on the original staging by Jerome Robbins.

This story of timeless traditions that define faith and family include the Broadway classics “Tradition,” “If I Were a Rich Man,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Matchmaker, Matchmaker” and “To Life.”

• “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” Nov. 18-19. The musical tells the back story of the chart-topping music legend, a Brooklyn girl with a lot of passion and chutzpah who was originally named Carol Klein. The musical, currently playing to sold-out crowds on Broadway, follows her journey becoming part of a hit songwriting team with her husband, Gerry Goffin, and finding her true voice after her personal life began to crack.

In the process, she gains the power and strength to stand on her own. The score brings to life the soundtrack King wrote for a generation, including “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend” and the title song.

In order for Akron to be part of the tour route, this show will run on a Monday-Tuesday rather than the Broadway Series' traditional Tuesday-Wednesday.

“We wanted badly for 'Beautiful' to be a part of this season,” Green said.

• “The Color Purple,” Feb. 11-12, 2020. The 2016 Tony Award winner is an all-new, reconceived production about young black woman Celie's journey to love and triumph in the American South.

The Grammy-winning score combines jazz, gospel, ragtime and blues. The show features direction and scenic design by John Doyle.

“The set design is as much a part of this story in its simplicity as the story itself,” Green said.

“It's definitely a roller coaster of emotions packed into one two-and-a-half hour experience … At times you feel like you're being taken to church. It's a great show.”

• “Waitress,” April 28-29, 2020. Expert baker Jenna, stuck in a small town and rocky marriage, pours her heart into her pies, which she gives humorous names that reflect her life. In this show, which Entertainment Weekly describes as “a little slice of heaven,” does Jenna have the courage to make a fresh start with her life?

The show's all-female creative team includes a score by pop artist Sara Bareilles, direction by Diane Paulus and book by Jessie Nelson. The score blends pop, country and traditional Broadway styles.

“It's another one of those high-quality shows that I think Akron will love,” Greene said.

Season tickets for all four shows cost from $40 (a Smart Seat subscription) to $295. New this year is a $75 four-show subscription at the second lowest-priced tier. For more information, see broadwayinakron.com or call 216-241-6000.

Playhouse Square reports that Broadway in Akron season tickets are up 200 percent since 2015-16, the year it became the presenter for the series at E.J. Thomas Hall. The current season drew 2,357 season ticket-holders.

 

Arts writer Kerry Clawson may be reached at 330-996-3527 or kclawson@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her at @KerryClawsonABJ or www.facebook.com/kclawsonabj.