New season of Broadway at the Tennessee excites!

Alex Lugo singing highlights from the Broadway play “Hadestown” at the Tennessee Theatre last week. “Hadestown” is one of six Broadway shows coming to Knoxville next season.

The Tennessee Theatre announced its upcoming series of touring Broadway performances last week to an enthusiastic crowd that applauded and whooped when each of the six upcoming shows was named. Even though “Wicked” had been previously announced, it still received massive cheers.

Notably, every show booked for the 2023-24 season is a premiere in Knoxville — none has ever been performed professionally here before. And, even more notably, every year the number of season subscribers climbs — from 2,597 in 2021 to 7,609 today. And that’s before sales even open to new subscribers for the upcoming season!

The format of the night was designed to be fast-moving and fun. Tennessee Theatre Executive Director Becky Hancock and musical theater historian Dr. Kristin Presley, also known as “Dr. Broadway,” introduced the upcoming season and shared a few insights about each play. Short clips of the productions were shown. And three performers who will appear in Knoxville during the upcoming season offered songs from two of the shows.

Afterwards, the invited season ticket holders were guests at an open bar and buffet on the stage of the historic Tennessee. What’s not to like?

If you are a renewing Broadway season ticket holder, you can renew your tickets now. Box office is located at 224 Clinch Ave.; here’s link to website; phone number is (865) 684-1200. If you are a first-time season ticket subscriber, they go on sale to non-renewals on June 19.

Guests at the event were invited to dress as characters from Broadway plays. Here’s, from left, Angie Wilson as Rizzo from “Grease;” Anita Dozier as Annie in “Annie Get Your Gun;” and Logan Dozier as the wizard in “Wicked.”

Dr. Kristin Presley, left, and Becky Hancock discussing highlights of the next Broadway season at the Tennessee Theatre.

Here’s the lineup.

“Six:” Oct. 31 through Nov. 5, 2023

The story of Henry VIII’s six wives, the musical comedy “Six” is “part 10th grade history class, part ‘American Idol,’ and a WHOLE lot of fun,” according to Dr. Presley.

Hancock introducing the video from “Six.”

One of Henry VIII’s six wives in “Six.”

“Six” is an 80-minute play performed in one act. Presley said plays without an intermission are more and more popular on Broadway and she thinks the trend will continue.

“Jagged Little Pill:” Dec. 5 through Dec. 10, 2023

Based on the 1995 album of the same name by Alanis Morissette, “Jagged Little Pill” portrays “messy reality,” according to DeAnne Stewart, one of its actors. “There’s no way for you to come to it and not fall in love with it,” she said.

DeAnne Stewart singing and discussing “Jagged Little Pill” at the Tennessee Theatre last week.

A scene from a video of excerpts from “Jagged Little Pill.” Talk about family drama!

“Wicked:” Jan. 10 through Jan. 21, 2024

When the hugely successful Broadway play rolls into town in January, it will do so with a dozen semi-trucks carrying its staging requirements and two dozen stagehands, about double what the average show brings. In addition, Hancock said, the Tennessee Theatre will provide 80 to 100 local laborers to load in, set up, work the show, and then move it out on the last day.

“Wicked” tells the backstory of the Wicked Witch of the West from “The Wizard of Oz.” It is the fourth-longest running show on Broadway, according to Dr. Presley. It will take 3.5 days to load into the Tennessee.

A scene from the video shows part of the elaborate stage setting for “Wicked.”

Elphaba, the “Wicked Witch of the West.”

Glinda, the “Good Witch.”

This guy was sitting beside me at the season announcement festivities. He was dressed as the “Cowardly Lion” from “Wicked.”

“Hadestown:” March 5 through March 10, 2024

Winner of eight 2019 Tony Awards and the 2020 Grammy Award for Best Musical Theater Album, “Hadestown” tells a version of the ancient Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. Eurydice, a young girl looking for something to eat, goes to work in a hellish industrial version of the Greek underworld to escape poverty and the cold, and her poor singer-songwriter lover Orpheus comes to attempt to rescue her. 

The characters Hades and Persephone from the video about “Hadestown.”

Actors Adam Hyndman and Alex Lugo performed a number from “Hadestown” at the season announcement.

Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird:” April 2 through April 7, 2024

Adapted for the theater by Aaron Sorkin of “The West Wing” and “A Few Good Men” fame (among many others), this version departs somewhat from the familiar novel. In this version, according to Dr. Presley, the African American characters have more “agency.” “They take up for themselves,” Presley said. Also, the Atticus Finch character is more “humanized,” she noted.

According to “The New York Times,” this play is “the most successful American play in Broadway history.” National Public Radio dubbed it “one of the greatest plays in history.” So there.

Don’t miss it.

Atticus Finch and Scout in the promotional video.

“Beetlejuice:” June 11 through June 16, 2024

The season will close with what Dr. Presley describes as a fan favorite. “People dress up like they do for ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show,” she said. The story concerns a deceased couple who try to haunt the new inhabitants of their former home and call for help from a devious bio-exorcist ghost named Beetlejuice, who is summoned by saying his name three times. One of the new inhabitants is a young girl, Lydia, who is dealing with her mother’s death and her neglectful father. “Variety” calls the musical “screamingly good fun!”

A scene from the “Beetlejuice” video. Looks like fun!

After the announcement, folks climbed up to the stage for drinks and an appetizer buffet.

Food looked delish — if it weren’t for the purple lighting!

Here is Sherry Jenkins, left, executive director of Dogwood Arts, with Becky Hancock on the stage. Sorry about the lighting!

Great jazz by Keith Brown, drums; Larry Vincent, guitar; and David Slack, bass.

Alan Carmichael and TVA’s Jeannette Mills on stage.

These smart folks got their food and sat down in the theater to enjoy it! Robin Smith, left, and Debbie Emery.

In the lobby, Emma Grace Thompson was selling merchandise. She’s dressed as a character from “Oklahoma!”

To sum up!


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2 Responses to New season of Broadway at the Tennessee excites!

  1. Leslie Testerman, on May 1st, 2023 at 4:23 pm said:

    Thank you so much for your current photos concerning events in Knoxville. Love reading about & seeing all the interesting people.

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on May 2nd, 2023 at 4:27 pm said:

    Leslie: Thanks for reading the Blue Streak! Love seeing you!

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