Bring on the comedy. I keep the cars and the coffee.
The new season at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall will feature some of the biggest names in comedy, Broadway and popular music, starting with an appearance by Jerry Seinfeld in September and ending with tributes to ABBA and the Beatles in May next.
Seinfeld will play two shows at the Van Wezel on September 30, and he will be followed by a flood of standout comedians including Leanne Morgan (October 16), Paul Reiser (November 20), Daniel Tosh (November 27), Lewis Black ( December 1) and Jay Leno (March 28, 2023). Mary Bensel, executive director of Van Wezel, is excited to welcome Seinfeld as an opening act.
“It’s a time for a laugh, don’t you think?” she said. “Jerry’s been here a few times before and every time he’s just hilarious, so we’re excited to have him start the season. We’ve got a great comedy matchup, with Paul Reiser and Daniel Tosh, Lewis Black, Jay Leno and of course, the Smothers Brothers, Rita Rudner and Robert Klein.”
There’s more to the season than comedy.
Van Wezel will bring the powerful voices of Mandy Patinkin (February 16), Frank Valli (January 15), Paul Anka (March 29), Bonnie Raitt (November 28), Foreigner (November 17) and Michael Bolton (March). 26) on stage next season.
The season will also feature a number of tribute acts including “Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” (Oct. 22) and “Get Happy: Michael Feinstein Celebrates the Judy Garland Centennial” (Feb. 7).
“Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles” and “The Concert: A Tribute to ABBA” will close the season in May.
Bensel says longtime theater fans will recognize the depth of Patinkin’s talents, but she thinks people who are devoted to his film work might be a little confused.
“He’s one of Broadway’s biggest stars,” Bensel says. “It always makes me laugh when I talk to the young people. They certainly know him from his film career. “The Princess Bride” and then “Chicago Hope,” “Homeland.”
“He’s got one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard in my life. And so this is going to be a concert. It’s actually going to be three years, I believe, from the day he was last here, which was just before we were supposed to close due to the pandemic.”
Blue Man Group will make their Sarasota debut on January 31st, and Bensel suggests sitting up close for maximum immersion. Cirque Musica will try to blow your mind with their collection of aerialists and circus artists on December 17th.
There will also be a host of interesting dance groups including MOMIX: Alice (February 8), Ailey II (February 23), The Hip Hop Nutcracker (December 10), Kolo (December 26) and Riverdance (January 10). ) Last but not least, there is also a great lineup of Broadway shows. “Aladdin” will have its premiere in Sarasota in January and will be closely followed by “Mean Girls” in April.
Van Wezel will also screen “Tootsie,” “Cats” and “Disney Princess: The Concert.”
“Broadway is my favorite,” says Bensel. “I wanted to have a big, happy show for the season that would make people feel good about themselves. This is Disney’s ‘Aladdin’ in my book.
“Then we have another full week show, which is ‘Mean Girls,’ and that’s Tina Fey’s show, which is very funny. And it’s really quite a modern show. I really think sometimes we miss that group of shows for teenagers up. to 40s.”
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