210422ind PPACfile

In what may be one of the first post-pandemic live theater performances in Rhode Island, ‘Hamilton,’ Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tony Award-winning musical, is set to return to the Providence Performing Arts Center beginning Nov. 30.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Theater fans got the colloquial shot in the arm today as the Providence Performing Arts Center announced the lineup of shows for a 2021-22 season.

PPAC has been dark for about 13 months because of the pandemic and its effect on Broadway and on nation-ally touring productions, and shows won’t go up until fall.

But when they do, there will be a lot to see that’s new to PPAC, including “Pretty Woman: The Musical,” “The Prom,” and finally, “Dear Evan Hansen,” rescheduled twice in 2020 because of COVID and now set for April 2022.

A bunch of favorites are returning, from the blockbuster “Hamilton” to the enduring “Jesus Christ Superstar,” along with a pair of musicals that have become classics: “Oklahoma!” and “My Fair Lady.”

First up is “Pretty Woman,” based on the film and turned into a musical with an original score by Grammy winner Bryan Adams and Jim Val-lance. The movie’s director, Garry Marshall, wrote the book for this stage show, which opens PPAC’s 44th sea-son Oct. 9-16.

“Hamilton” returns for two weeks Nov. 30-Dec. 12. The show, based on Ron Chernow’s acclaimed biography, made a celebrity out of the historical Alexander Hamilton and out of Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote the book, music and lyrics. Performances at its PPAC debut created a buzz back in July 2019.

“The Prom,” a fizzy musical about a group of fad-ing Broadway stars who champion a teen who wants to take her girlfriend to the prom, plays March 8-13, 2022. “Variety” magazine described it as “so full of happiness that you think your heart is about to burst.”

The mood shifts when “Oklahoma!” comes to PPAC March 22-27, 2022. Named Best Musical Revival at the 2018-19 Tony Awards, this acclaimed production takes a contemporary look at the story, approaching it as a community vs. an outsider.  

Instantly recognizable music is the star of “Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations,” a story about the quintet’s start on the streets of Detroit to fame and the designation by Billboard Magazine as the greatest R&B group of all time.

Performances will be April 12-17, 2022.

The Lincoln Center Theater production of Lerner & Loewe’s “My Fair Lady” will conclude the Broadway series May 11-15, 2022, entertaining audiences, as it has for decades, with a charming tale of love and transformation.

Three shows comprise the Encore Series, starting with  “Rent – The 25th Anniversary Farewell Tour,” playing Jan 14-16, 2022. Jonathan Larson’s saga of artists and  friends following dreams and navigating sadness — and the music that expresses both — have become cultural icons to generations.

 Romance will be in the air around Valentine’s Day when “An Officer and a Gentleman” pays its first visit to PPAC Feb. 18-20, 2022. The show is based on the original screenplay for the movie and features a score of 1980’s music.

Thirteen months ago, PPAC was about to present the venerable Blue Man Group when COVID changed everyone’s plans. The blue guys will be back, however, about 13 months from now, May 20-22, 2022.

And there is more: three Broadway Specials, including the acrobatic “Cirque Dreams Holidaze, Dec. 17-18, 2021; “Jesus Christ Superstar,” Jan. 25-30; and the much anticipated “Dear Evan Hansen,” April 5-22, 2022.

The latter is a personal story that has moved audiences and critics. Evan is a young man with a social anxiety disorder who creates a fantasy relationship with one of his peers and then must handle unintended consequences.  This con-temporary musical about life garnered six 2017 Tony Awards and a 2018 Grammy for Best Musical Theater Album.

PPAC patrons have some-thing else to see when they return to 220 Weybosset St.: a refurbished façade. Over the winter, some 2,300 terra cotta tiles on the front of 93-year-old building were cleaned, repaired or replaced, and new exterior lighting was installed, which will allow for special effects.

The $2.1 million project is the biggest construction undertaking since 1995 when PPAC expanded the backstage, said Joseph W. Walsh, chairman of the board of directors.  

Looks aren’t everything, however, and in his re-marks, J.L. “Lynn” Single-ton noted that to help ensure patrons’ comfort and safety, PPAC has secured GBAC STAR accreditation from the Global Bio-risk Advisory Council, a division of a worldwide cleaning industry association, which establishes cleaning protocols, disinfection techniques and cleaning practices for facilities. Moreover, a new air-filtering system is being installed, Singleton said.

When patrons arrive at the theater, temperature checks will be done at all entrances and hand sanitizer stations will be set up throughout the building. Face masks “should be worn,” and pa-trons who enter without a mask will be provided with one, according to details on the policy available at ppacri.org/visit/faqs.

On-sale dates for most shows in the 2021-22 sea-son will be announced. Al-though the in-person box office is closed until further notice, patrons can call the box office at (401) 421-ARTS (2787), purchase tickets online at ppacri.org, email box office questions@ppacri.org or visit ppacri.org for information.

Bill Seymour is a freelance writer covering news and personality feature stories in Narragansett, North Kingstown and South Kingstown. He can be reached at independent.southcountylife@gmail.com.

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