Belcher Center Brings Broadway, Bolton, Buddy Holly To Stage
By STEWART SMITH
Broadway shows, Buddy Holly and Sinbad are just a portion of what the S.E. Belcher Center in Longview has in store for audiences in its upcoming season.
The center officially announced today the full lineup for its 2012-13 season, continuing its focus of providing quality, family-friendly entertainment.
"Frankly, I think this is the strongest season we've had yet. I am really, really excited about it. Everybody keeps telling me that it's getting better and better every year," said Cynthia Hellen, senior director of the Belcher Center.
Ms. Hellen said this sixth season firmly reflects the center's commitment to giving the people what they want.
"Finding out as we grow and as we get more and more established and have more regular patrons and find out what those people want and give more of that to them, that's exciting to me," she said. "That's one thing about this season, a whole lot of what we've got this season are programs that people have requested specifically. 'Fiddler on the Roof,' I've had so many requests for that. Michael Bolton is a name that's come up again and again, Sinbad is a name that's come up again and again."
Comprised of 10 shows, the season is unevenly split into two parts, with eight shows in the Performance Series and two in the School and Family Series.
Opening the Performance Series will be The Midtown Men on Tuesday, Sept. 18. Comprised of four of the original cast members of the Broadway smash hit "Jersey Boys," The Midtown Men provide a night of vintage '60s hits performed with unique panache brought by reuniting Christian Hoff, Michael Longoria, Daniel Reichard and J. Robert Spencer. The setlist is a veritable Who's Who of classic '60s groups, including The Jackson 5, The Beatles, The Beach Boys and The Four Season, whose story this quartet helped bring to life in "Jersey Boys."
"It's more than a concert, though," Ms. Hellen said. "It's done in such a way that, I'm telling you, I don't think there's anybody that's going to be able to stay in their seat and not sing along. It's high energy and super fun. They are such great entertainers."
On Saturday, Oct. 6, stand-up comedian Sinbad will provide his signature brand of humor to audiences. Sinbad has long made being a "clean" comedian a priority, stemming from a night when his father preacher father attended one of his shows.
"Shrek: The Musical" will arrive on Wednesday, Nov. 11. Though it is based on the hit animated film, the stage production won't be a straight adaptation of the movie people know and love.
"It's not just the movie on stage. It's a similar story, but it goes a little more into the characters," Ms. Hellen said.
"Shrek: The Musical" will also provide a unique collaborative opportunity between the Belcher Center and the UT Tyler Cowan Center. Ms. Hellen said she worked closely with the Cowan Center to arrange things so that the show would play one night in Longview and the following night in Tyler.
"It didn't make sense for me to have it for two days or the Cowan Center to have it two days since it's the kind of thing that has a regional appeal and we knew it would have a bigger draw than just Longview or Tyler," she said. "So we decided to do this and it's kind of an experiment, but we're both really excited about it."
On Sunday, Dec. 16, Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter Michael Bolton will take the stage as he croons the tunes that have propelled him to a career with more than 53 million albums sold worldwide.
The California and Montreal Guitar Trios will on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, provide an evening of international flavor as six musicians combine their musical prowess for a concert of guitar virtuosity. The members represent Japan, Canada, Belgium and the United States and combine more than 40 years of experience into one show as they play original and arranged compositions of progressive rock, jazz and classical.
The Tony Award-winning Broadway musical "Fiddler on the Roof" will arrive on Tuesday, March 5, 2013. This classic of the stage and screen tells the story of Tevya, a poor Russian milkman who must contend with his wife as he attempts to marry off his daughters.
On Saturday, March 23, 2013, Bill McGuigan will bring his show, "Rave On: The Buddy Holly Experience" to the stage, paying tribute to the late, great rocker.
"He's more widely known as an interpreter than an impersonator, but you will leave that show feeling like you've been to a Buddy Holly show. He just transports you," Ms. Hellen said. "He just sort of channels Buddy Holly, I think."
McGuigan's show also pays tribute to the works of artists such as Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and Ritchie Valens.
The stage production of "Of Mice and Men" will be performed on Saturday, April 4, 2013. Taken from John Steinbeck's classic novella, the play tells the American tale of two migrant ranch hands who struggle to find their place during the Great Depression.
Finally, closing out the Performance Series in grand fashion will be a performance by Celtic Woman. While Celtic Woman typically only performs shows in large arenas, they will make a special appearance at the Belcher Center performing classic Irish tunes such as "The Water Is Wide" and "The Parting Glass," all with the group's signature sound. Celtic Woman will perform on Friday, May 17, 2013.
A performance of "The Ugly Duckling" and "The Tortoise and the Hare" will open the School and Family Series on Monday, Oct. 15. The performance is a blend of cutting-edge technology, dance, moving sculpture and puppetry.
The series will also include a performance by Black Violin on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013. The group uniquely combines classical music with hip hop for a signature sound. Black Violin has performed and toured with the likes of Alicia Keyes, P. Diddy and Akon.
For more information on these events or to find ticketing information, call 903-233-3080 or visit www.belchercenter.com