Oompa Loompas, cats and blue men! What a season!

Clyde Voce will appear in the part of Willy Wonka when “Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” comes to the Tennessee Theatre May 5-10, 2020. He was in Knoxville on Monday to help announce the Tennessee Theatre’s next Broadway season.

The Tennessee Theatre unveiled next year’s season of Broadway musical offerings on Monday with a preview and reception on the stage of the historic venue. More than 200 people attended to nosh on appetizers, enjoy a beverage and hear two short excerpts from upcoming shows.

The season is diverse and exciting with productions that will appeal to audiences of all ages. There are classics like “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Cats” and more recent hits including “A Bronx Tale” and “Waitress.”

Others on tap include “Miss Saigon,” and “Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

Season subscribers also may add on productions of “The Color Purple” and “Blue Man Group On Tour.”

Becky Hancock, executive director of the Tennessee Theatre, described the appeal of the upcoming season. “One of the titles, ‘Waitress,’ is still running on Broadway, which is unusual for our seasons. Three of the titles — ‘Waitress,’ ‘A Bronx Tale,’ and ‘Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ — have never played in Knoxville. And a fourth, ‘Miss Saigon,’ has never played at the Tennessee. The remaining titles are returning after many years due to popular demand.”

Charlie Marcus will appear as “Sonny” when “A Bronx Tale” comes April 3-5, 2020. He performed a number from the show Monday night at the season launch party.

Ever wondered just how the folks in charge select the plays for each season? We asked Hancock. Here’s what she said. “Booking Broadway is a complex process involving several members of the theater’s staff, along with the booking team at AC Entertainment. We must consider factors such as which shows are currently touring, date availability — theirs and ours — technical requirements, diversity in show content and financial investment.

“Booking a Broadway season has been described to me a ‘ a cross between the New York Stock Exchange and air traffic control.’ Many moving parts have to align for a production to be confirmed at the Tennessee,” she said.

Hancock said the staff starts at least 18 months in advance to line up shows. Currently, the theater is holding dates for potential productions as far away as 2022.

To purchase season tickets, call the box office at (865) 684-1200 (ext. 2). Or, go to the box office, which is located at 224 Clinch Ave., in downtown Knoxville. Box office hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets to individual shows will go on sale at a later date.

Vance Thompson, the leader of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra, brought a quartet to play during Monday’s Broadway season launch party at the Tennessee Theatre. Thompson is on trumpet, Larry Vincent on guitar, Griffin Photoglou on drums and Jon Hamar on bass.

“Fiddler on the Roof,” a show coming here direct from a run on Broadway, will open the season Dec. 27-29, 2019.

“A wonderful cast and a lavish orchestra tell this heart-warming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and the timeless traditions that define faith and family,” Hancock said in announcing it.

It’s so much fun to mingle on the stage of the Tennessee Theatre, as attendees were invited to do on Monday.

“Miss Saigon,” an updated take on the opera “Madame Butterfly,” will be here Jan. 28-Feb. 2, 2020.

It is the epic story of a young Vietnamese woman named Kim who meets an American G.I. in a bar run by a notorious character called “The Engineer” just before the fall of Saigon. That encounter will change their lives forever. (And, there’s a helicopter involved, providing interesting staging challenges!)

Vance Thompson and his group played Broadway tunes and other things all through the reception.

“Waitress,” will play at the Tennessee Theatre Feb. 28-March 1, 2020.

It tells the story of Jenna, an expert pie maker who dreams of a way out of her small town. A baking contest and the town’s new doctor may offer her a fresh start. According to Hancock, it is an uplifting celebration of friendship, motherhood and the magic of a well-made pie! (Saw it on Broadway. It’s great.)

Larry Vincent was on guitar Monday night.

“A Bronx Tale” will be here April 3-5, 2020.

It is based on the story of the life of actor Chazz Palminteri, raised on the stoops of the Bronx in the 1960s, who is torn between the father he loves and the mob boss he’d love to be. “It’s going to be your favorite show of the season,” Hancock promised from the podium.

Lead actor Charlie Marcus from “A Bronx Tale” graciously mingled with season ticket buyers Monday.

“Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” will run May 5-10, 2020. This is where we meet the Oompa Loompas, who work in the chocolate factory. Author Dahl may be familiar to Knoxville audiences for his 30-year marriage to Knoxville-raised actress Patricia Neal.

Clyde Voce, who plays Willy Wonka, chatting with Tennessee Theatre Executive Director Becky Hancock during the announcement.

Voce posing with Lila Honaker, left, and Tami Hartmann at the cocktail party. Super nice guy.

“Cats” will close out the season from June 19-June 21, 2020.

“Cats” features one of the most beloved Broadway songs of all time: “Memory.” I’ve seen it on Broadway and in Knoxville — and I’m going to see it again!

Drummer on Monday night was Griffin Photoglou.

But, we’re not finished yet! There are two optional add-ons currently available only to season ticket holders. These tickets also will be opened up to everyone later in the year.

Hailed by “The Hollywood Reporter” as “a direct hit to the heart,” this revival will play Knoxville Nov. 5-6, 2019.

The other add-on is “Blue Man Group On Tour,” called “a euphoric celebration of human connection through art, music, comedy and non-verbal communication.” It will play April 21-23, 2020.

I love the way the Tennessee Theatre announces the Broadway series. They could just mail a brochure and be done with it. But they make it fun by having a cocktail party with brief appearances by Broadway stars. The season ticket holders get excited and that excitement rubs off. It just really enhances the whole experience. Bravo!

Clyde Voce and Charlie Marcus chatting with patrons on stage of the Tennessee Theatre.

Kenneth Stark signing up for his season tickets.

Guests enjoying the cocktail buffet.

Fun times.


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4 Responses to Oompa Loompas, cats and blue men! What a season!

  1. Sara Hedstrom pinnell, on May 1st, 2019 at 3:16 pm said:

    I can’t wait for Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory!!!!

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on May 1st, 2019 at 3:20 pm said:

    Sara: Agree! Although, I’m kind of excited about the whole season!

  3. Vance Thompson, on May 1st, 2019 at 6:29 pm said:

    Thanks for giving some love to the band, Cynthia! 🙂

  4. Cynthia Moxley, on May 1st, 2019 at 8:52 pm said:

    Vance: You all added so much to the evening. A guy beside me was amazed at your rendition of “Someday My Prince Will Come!” I’ve heard you do it before and love it, of course. But this guy was just astounded by the jazz treatment!

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