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Broadway Blockbuster Blitz at Pantages

CageBroadway/L.A. is offering one of  its most tantalizing seasons yet, including several recent Broadway Tony winners and nominees.

National touring editions of popular productions appear to be on the upswing, and seem to be taking to the road earlier.

One might have expected some of the shows that were just announced for the Pantages Theatre in Hollywood in 2011-12  to be making their  Southern California or West Coast bows at the Ahmanson Theatre.   That still might prove to be the case, as the Pantages engagements could be secondary runs, as most open in 2012. Nonetheless, there's a lot to look forward to in the roster that was just revealed.

Possibly the most anticipated offering will be Billy Elliot the Musical (April 12-June 2, 2012), the acclaimed London-originated hit based on the British film. Music is by Elton John, and the book and lyrics are by Lee Hall. It aced 10 Tony awards, as well as many other honors, domestically and abroad.

3984026951_f387d45031_o The current smash Broadway revival of Jerry Herman and Harvey Fiersein's 1983  musical La Cage Aux Folles (July 10-22, 2012) will also have a strong want-to-see factor. 

A gay love story that was considered groundbreaking for a Broadway show in its time, the show remains a fabulous entertainment, particularly in the Broadway importation of the acclaimed London revisit to this stage adaptation of the popular French film farce.  It won three Tonys, including best revival.  The original 1983 production had an extended hit engagement at the Pantages.

Another red-hot attraction will be last season's Tony winning Best Musical, Memphis (July 31-August 12, 2012), a rock-and-roll romp by Bon Jovi's David Bryan and librettist Joe DiPietro. It takes place in the smoky halls and underground clubs of the segregated 1950s, where a young white DJ falls in love with an electrifying Black singer.

More rock-and-roll revelry, along with country-and-western classics,  will be on hand in Million Dollar Quartet (June 19-July 1, 2012), inspired by the true stories of Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins. Eric Schaffer directs and the book is by Colin Escott and Floyd Mutrux.

SoCal Stages_blogA show that was widely panned, yet nonetheless became a Broadway hit, The Addams Family (June 5-17, 2012), is based on the goofy 1960s sitcom about a ghoulish family, itself based on Charles Addams' comic strip. Book is by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, score by Andrew Lippa.

The final new show to make its bow is the jukebox dance show Come Fly Away (October 19-30, 2011). Featuring vocals by Frank Sinatra, it was conceived, choreographed, and directed by Twyla Tharp. Four couples fall in and out of love in a dance-filled evening at a swinging nightclub.

 Otherwise, the bill of fare consists of return engagements of familiar fare. Stephen Schwartz' juggernaut Wicked flies in November 30, 2011-January 22, 2012. Mamma Mia! should ABBA-solutely please its fans (March 27-April 8, 2012). And there'll be whole lot of Irish stompin' going on in the seemingly omnipresent Riverdance (November 15-20, 2011).

-- Les Spindle

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