COVID again upends plans for Broadway shows to return to Charlotte. Here’s the latest

Catherine Muccigrosso
·4 min read

Even as Charlotte Symphony audiences prepare to return to the Belk Theater this month for the first live performances in over a year, the pandemic has squashed plans to relaunch Broadway musicals on that stage in August.

In February, Blumenthal Performing Arts touted that its touring Broadway shows were scheduled to kick off Aug. 31 with the Tony Award winner “Hadestown” at the Belk. But that show now has been rescheduled for November next year, as Blumenthal officials were forced to rejigger their Broadway series again.

It’s yet another upheaval that the coronavirus pandemic has contributed to, even as widespread vaccine eligibility began in North Carolina, with anyone 16 or older now approved to get the vaccines.

The new delay in the shows is COVID-19 related, Blumenthal CEO Tom Gabbard told the Observer on Friday. He said ‘Hadestown’ is a new tour that still has to cast, build new sets and costumes.

The winner of eight 2019 Tony Awards, including Best Musical, “Hadestown” intertwines two mythic tales involving young dreamers Orpheus and Eurydice, and King Hades and his wife Persephone.

“They’re still not even in a position where they can audition actors in person,” he said. “So they made a decision to delay the tour.”

But that doesn’t mean musicals won’t hit Charlotte stages this year. The popular, re-imagined Land of Oz tale “Wicked” will open in Charlotte in September at Ovens Auditorium. Gabbard said he doesn’t expect those plans to change.

The Blumenthal has two season series, The PNC Broadway Lights with six shows, including “Hadestown,” and Equitable Bravo Series with five shows, which includes “Wicked.”

Season subscribers of the Broadway Lights series are being notified of the change, Blumenthal spokeswoman Becky Bereiter said.

“We appreciate everybody’s patience,” Gabbard said. “Hopefully this is the end of the COVID changes.”

The hit show “Hadestown,” with Amber Gray shown in the original Broadway cast, was scheduled to kick off the PNC Broadway Lights series in Charlotte. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, it will now end the series next year.
The hit show “Hadestown,” with Amber Gray shown in the original Broadway cast, was scheduled to kick off the PNC Broadway Lights series in Charlotte. But because of the coronavirus pandemic, it will now end the series next year.

More musical theater changes

But “Hadestown” rescheduling isn’t the only change.

Another show in the Broadway series has been canceled. The show “1776” (scheduled for Nov. 16-21) has been replaced with “Jesus Christ Super Star” in the spring.

And, the Blumenthal is adding other shows to its calendar, including “How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical” in November and two other shows to next year’s spring calendar — the improv hip-hop comedy musical “Freestyle Love Supreme” and the classic “Fiddler on the Roof.”

PNC Broadway Lights Series

In February, the Blumenthal released its lineup for the six-show series after nearly a year without live performances because of the pandemic. The last live show at Belk Theater was by Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth on March 10, 2020.

The Broadway Lights series will now kick off Jan. 18-23 with “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of the Temptations.” The musical follows The Temptations’ rise from the Detroit streets to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

“Ain’t Too Proud,” which tells the story of The Temptations, will launch the PNC Broadway Lights series at Belk Theater Jan. 18-23.
“Ain’t Too Proud,” which tells the story of The Temptations, will launch the PNC Broadway Lights series at Belk Theater Jan. 18-23.

Other shows in the series are:

“Jesus Christ Superstar,” March 22-27, 2022.

“Hamilton,” April 26-May 15, 2022.

”To Kill a Mockingbird,” July 26-31, 2022.

“Mean Girls,” Sept. 6-11, 2022.

“Hadestown,” Nov. 8-13, 2022.

Another optional show that is part of the series is Charlotte’s debut of Disney’s “Frozen,” June 15-26, 2022.

Equitable Bravo Series

The Blumenthal’s other five-show subscription, Equitable Bravo series, will launch this summer starting with “Wicked on Sept. 8-Oct. 3 at Ovens Auditorium.

The other shows are:

“Rent,” 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour, Nov. 9-14 at Belk Theater.

“An Officer and a Gentleman,” Dec. 7-12 at Ovens Auditorium.

“Pretty Woman: The Musical,” Apr. 12-17, 2022, at Belk Theater.

“Hamilton,” April 26-May 15, 2022, at Belk Theater.

Broadway Extras on the calendar

But those aren’t the only Broadway shows coming to Charlotte with additions like “Freestyle Love Supreme,” which was started in 2004 by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote “Hamilton,” and Anthony Veneziale.

Subscribers to either of the Blumenthal’s series can choose to swap some of their season shows for these “Broadway Extras” or other shows added during the year, according to the Blumenthal.

Those shows and dates are:

“Potted Potter,” Oct. 15-17, at Booth Playhouse.

“Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” Nov. 16-21, at Belk Theater.

“Freestyle Love Supreme,” May 24-29, 2022, at Knight Theater.

“Fiddler on the Roof,” May 31-June 5, 2022, at Belk Theater.

“Blue Man Group,” July 15-17, 2022, at Belk Theater.

“Anastasia,” Oct. 11-16, 2022, at Ovens Auditorium.

For ticket information, visit blumenthalarts.org/BPABroadway or call 704-335-1010. For tickets purchased through May 31, the Blumenthal is offering a “COVID-19 guarantee” that includes an exchange for another event or gift card, or refund.

Other live performances at the Belk

The changes to the Broadway series comes the day after the Charlotte Symphony Orchestra said its first indoor concert in over a year will be April 24 at the Blumenthal’s Belk Theater.

Gabbard called that “a step forward” with revenue down 90% over the past year because of pandemic shutdowns.

And last month, the Charlotte Ballet said it would combine its Innovative Works with its Choreographic Lab program to form a live five-week series “Innovative: Direct from the LAB” running through April 18 at the Center for the Dance.

All live performances are following socially-distanced seating and other COVID-19 safety protocols.