Something Special

Something Special

Perhaps the best thing about the 2018/19 Broadway season at the Walton Arts Center, according to vice president for programming Scott Galbraith, is the shows’ relatability and their simultaneous transcendence of being niche productions.

“For instance, ‘A Bronx Tale,’ it’s very much a guys’ story. And there’s nothing wrong with that,” he says. “Women will love it, but it’s kind of a guys’ story. ‘Waitress’ is more of a female story. Guys will enjoy it, and anybody who likes pie will enjoy it, but it is a bit more of a female story. ‘School of Rock’ is a little bit more of a kids’ story. So there is a general demographic for Broadway, but then within each show, there are concentric circles of demographics.”

If one were searching for a common thread between the shows in the new season, though, Galbraith readily points to all the young talent emerging from so many of the productions.

“If there’s a theme to this [season], it really is about the celebration of youth performers and the vehicle that [theater] can provide to get kids involved in the arts,” Galbraith shares. “‘On Your Feet’ has a spectacular young male dancer featured in the show. ‘Falsettos’ has a young boy who is one of the main characters. ‘A Bronx Tale’ is about a young boy [whose] story we’re watching. ‘Les Misérables’ has Gavroche. So there’s a significant part of cultivating young talent that is underlying this whole thing.”

And the rocking-est, shredding-est, loudest example of young talent will be seen in October with the Arkansas premiere of “School of Rock.” Inspired by the 2003 Jack Black film, “School of Rock” features musical theater’s first-ever kids rock band playing their instruments live on stage by a group of straight-A students-turned rockers.

Four other debuts — for the WAC as well as the whole state! — bolster Fayetteville’s reputation and serve as a huge point of pride for the venue. With a house made up of 40 percent subscribers, Galbraith says the community warrants a stop for huge productions and brand new tours.

“That’s very impressive to our industry — they love coming to a city that has that kind of support already,” he adds. “The more freshness we can bring in in terms of Arkansas premieres, the more people want to see them, the more the industry says, ‘Wow, look at that. Forty percent load in; that’s terrific!’ Now we warrant having premieres and it’s a self-fulfilling cycle.”

One of those WAC debuts, the Lincoln Center Theater’s revival of “Falsettos,” will also launch its tour from Fayetteville in February as “White Christmas” did during the 2017/18 season. The chance to launch a tour allows both the WAC and the community more chance to engage with the full team.

“We are always actively looking for opportunities to be that town to which the entire production company will come and sit down for two weeks and tech their show, put it together, go through the rehearsal process, and then they’ll open their tour from here,” Galbraith shares.

Walton Arts Center’s commitment to providing audiences fresh experiences while also bringing back time-honored favorites — next season’s being “Jersey Boys,” “Les Misérables” and “CATS” — plus its reputation in the industry as such a community-supported venue allow Northwest Arkansas to compete with cities like Kansas City, Tulsa, Little Rock, even Chicago, Galbraith insists.

“We are absolutely a destination for Broadway; there’s no question about that,” he assures. “We get all of the A-class shows, with the exception of those … big behemoth blockbusters. But otherwise, absolutely everything.”



WAC 2018-19

Broadway Season

“Jersey Boys”

Oct. 5-7

Go behind the music and inside the story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons when the Tony Award-winning true-life musical phenomenon “Jersey Boys” makes its much-anticipated return to Walton Arts Center.

“School of Rock”

Oct. 23-28

A New York Times Critics’ Pick based on the hit film, this hilarious new musical follows Dewey Finn, a wannabe rock star posing as a substitute teacher who turns a class of straight-A students into a guitar-shredding, bass-slapping, mind-blowing rock band.

“On Your Feet!”

Dec. 4-9

From their humble beginnings in Cuba, Emilio and Gloria Estefan came to America and broke through all barriers to become a cross-over sensation at the very top of the pop music world. “On Your Feet!” takes you behind the music and inside the real story of this record-making and groundbreaking couple who, in the face of adversity, found a way to end up on their feet.

The Lincoln Center Theater Broadway Production of “Falsettos”

Feb. 8-9, 2019

This all-new production from Lincoln Center Theater was nominated for five 2017 Tony Awards, including Best Revival of a Musical. “Falsettos” is a hilarious and achingly poignant story revolving around the life of a charming, intelligent, neurotic gay man named Marvin, his wife, lover, about-to-be-Bar-Mitzvahed son, their psychiatrist and the lesbians next door.

“A Bronx Tale”

Feb. 26-March 3, 2019

Broadway’s hit crowd-pleaser takes you to the stoops of the Bronx in the 1960s, where a young man is caught between the father he loves and the mob boss he’d love to be. Directed by Academy Award-winner Robert De Niro and Tony-winner Jerry Zaks, this unforgettable story of loyalty and family is based on Academy Award-nominee Chazz Palminteri’s story.


April 9-14, 2019

Brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by six-time Grammy-nominee Sara Bareilles and a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson. Inspired by Adrienne Shelly’s beloved film, “Waitress” tells the story of Jenna — a waitress and expert pie maker who dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage.


May 28-June 2, 2019

“CATS” tells the story of one magical night when an extraordinary tribe of cats gathers for its annual ball to rejoice and decide which cat will be reborn. The original score by Andrew Lloyd Webber along with the original scenic and costume design by John Napier remain, but all-new lighting design, sound design, choreography and direction make this production a fresh experience.

“Les Misérables”

June 18-June 23, 2019

Musical phenomenon “Les Misérables” is direct from an acclaimed two-and-a-half-year return to Broadway and tells an unforgettable story of heartbreak, passion and the resilience of the human spirit. With its glorious new staging and dazzlingly reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo, this breathtaking new production has left both audiences and critics awestruck.

COST — Ticket packages range from $285 to $453 for six shows, up to $351 to $593 for eight shows; Broadway subscriptions are on sale now, with single tickets available in the summer

INFO — 443-5600

Categories: Entertainment, Theater