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Shea's announces season of Broadway hits, classics

As Shea’s Performing Arts Center nears the end of yet another record season, the theater is hoping to keep its upward trajectory going with the announcement of a new lineup for 2015-16 heavy with fresh-from-Broadway productions.

As usual, the venue’s subscription season will include touring versions of the Broadway hits from recent years, including “Newsies,” “Matilda,” “Pippin” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.” Those box-office successes will be bolstered by the classic “Annie” and a retooled production of “Dirty Dancing,” a rare appearance on the series from a show that has never played on Broadway.

Shea’s 2015-16 season also will include special engagements from Mannheim Steamroller, Blue Man Group and a tour of “The Wizard of Oz.”

For the most part, said Broadway producer and longtime Shea’s partner Albert Nocciolino, the shows Shea’s audience will see next season largely mirror the Broadway productions that inspired them.

“There has been a commitment for years, particularly with the shows that have been big hits, when they go on the road, to make them mirror what was on Broadway,” Nocciolino said. “When you have a hit on Broadway and you can recoup your investment, it gives you the opportunity to make that same kind of commitment to the tour. When a show is not a big hit on Broadway, it finds its way sometimes to being scaled down because the economics just don’t allow it. We happen to have shows that have been big hits on Broadway.”

The exception to that in the upcoming season, he said, is the tour of “Annie” planned for December, which will take a more traditional approach than its recent, modestly successful Broadway revival.

Here’s a glance at the upcoming season:

“Newsies,” Sept. 29 to Oct. 4

After an unusually long gestation period, this Broadway adaptation of the popular 1992 film and based on the story of striking newsboys in New York City opened on Broadway in 2012 and ran for more than 1,000 performances.

“Matilda,” Nov. 3 to 8

Based on Roald Dahl’s popular children’s book, this musical force of nature went over huge in England, where it originated. Ditto on Broadway, where it is still going strong with its young audience base after opening in the spring of 2013.

“Annie,” Dec. 8 to 13

This new tour of the classic musical, helmed by the show’s original lyricist and director Martin Charnin, eschews the contemporary take of the recent Broadway revival and brings it back to its original form.

“Pippin,” Jan. 26 to 31, 2016

Die-hard local musical fans were crestfallen when the tour based on Diane Paulus’ acclaimed, circus-inspired revival of Stephen Schwartz’s tale of magic and adventure skipped Buffalo last season. They won’t have too much longer to wait.

“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical,” March 15 to 20, 2016

Nominated for seven Tony Awards, this biographical jukebox show fueled by King’s many hits and her fascinating life is still running on Broadway and recently opened on London’s West End.

“Dirty Dancing,” May 3 to 8, 2016

One of the only shows in recent memory on the Shea’s main series not to carry Broadway’s imprimatur. Based on the 1987 film, this tour is a retooled version of an Australian show that played in Toronto, among other places, in 2007.

Special engagements:

“Mannheim Steamroller Christmas by Chip Davis,” Dec. 19

Blue Man Group, Feb. 12 to 14, 2016

“The Wizard of Oz,” April 5 to 10, 2016

email: cdabkowski@buffnews.com

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