Curtain Up: Where to See Broadway in Florida
By Jodi Mailander Farrell
Broadway may call New York’s Great White Way home, but when the top national shows tour, all roads lead to Florida. The finest traveling Broadway productions make their stops in spectacular halls around the state.
Broadway’s hit new musical, “Hamilton,” has announced it will hip hop to Orlando, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale in the 2018-2019 theater season, with official dates and ticket sales yet to be announced. “On Your Feet!” – the story of Florida’s own Gloria and Emilio Estefan – opens its first national tour in the Estefans’ home city of Miami in October 2017 before continuing on to Orlando.
The new Broadway sensations join Tony Award winners and classic favorites – “The King and I,” “The Lion King,” “Wicked,” “Jersey Boys,” “Rent,” “The Book of Morman” and “Kinky Boots,” among others – in annual series that present more than a dozen touring shows with talented Actors’ Equity union members across Florida. Individual tickets generally cost $35-$150, depending on seating, with accommodations such as sign language interpreters, open captioning and audio-described performances ensuring accessibility for all.
If you’re traveling during Florida’s high arts season, which runs from October through April, check out what shows are also on the road in these Florida cities.
The Broward Center for the Performing Arts is a large, multi-venue theater complex that opened in 1991 along the New River in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale. Broadway traveling shows appear in its Au-Rene Theater, a 2,658-seat Broadway roadhouse ranked as one of the top 10 worldwide theater venues for ticket sales by Pollstar magazine and one of the most visited theaters in the United States. Its Broadway in Fort Lauderdale Season features six to eight shows. “Hamilton” will be part of the lineup in 2018-19.
201 SW Fifth Ave., Fort Lauderdale
Bonus for Broadway fans: You can catch Broadway musical stars performing solo in The Broadway Concert Series at The Parker Playhouse, a 1,191-seat neo-classical theater that first opened in 1967 and is now run by the same company that programs the Broward Center. Sutton Foster, Audra McDonald, Matthew Morrison, Kristin Chenoweth and Gavin Creel have all performed here in the series hosted by Seth Rudetsky from Sirius/XM Satellite Radio’s “On Broadway” show. Tickets are $37-$123. 707
NE 8th St., Fort Lauderdale
Downtown Miami’s Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County, opened in 2006, offers a Broadway in Miami series of five to seven shows in its 2,400-seat Ziff Ballet Opera House, the second-largest performing arts stage in the United States (after the Metropolitan Opera stage). “On Your Feet,” the new Broadway musical based on the life and music of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, will kick off its first national tour here Oct. 5-15, 2017, before it congas across the nation.
1300 Biscayne Blvd.
Downtown Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts opened in 2014, making it the newest major cultural campus in Florida. The Center’s Walt Disney Theater is a 2,700-seat amplified hall designed for Broadway theater-class plays. The Broadway in Orlando series annually features six to nine productions. Theater fans who subscribe now to the 2017-18 series will get early access to purchase tickets to see “Hamilton” in 2018-19.
445 Magnolia Ave., Orlando
The nine-acre Straz Center for the Performing Arts is in downtown Tampa along the Hillsborough River. With five theaters, three restaurants and a performing arts conservatory, it’s one of the largest performing arts complexes south of the Kennedy Center. Its eight-show Best of Broadway Tampa Bay series occurs in the 2,610-seat Morsani Hall, with recent popular shows including “Into the Woods, “The Curious Incidence of the Dog in the Nighttime” and “An American in Paris.” “Hamilton” is scheduled to make a stop here in 2017-18.
1010 N. W.C. MacInnes Place
Ruth Eckerd Hall is part of the larger Richard B. Baumgardner Center for the Performing Arts, which also serves the Tampa Bay area. The hall, opened in 1983, has been nominated one of the top five concert halls in the United States by a nation-wide industry poll of technicians, artists and their management. It seats 2,180 and offers a Broadway series of six to eight traveling shows each season.
1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater
The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, built in 1968, is a purple seashell-shaped theater on Sarasota Bay designed by William Wesley Peters, a chief architect at Taliesin Associated Architects of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. The hall was renovated in 2000, with continued renovations and updates since then. Its 1741-seat Roskamp Auditorium hosts a Broadway series of eight to 10 traveling shows each season.
777 North Tamiami Trail
Hayes Hall, with 1,475 seats, is a grand theater that is part of the Artis—Naples cultural campus that includes a fine arts museum and black box theater. It offers a five-show Broadway series that features a balance of old favorites on the road and hot, new touring titles. Musicals are a local favorite, with recent sold-out runs for “Motown The Musical” and “Kinky Boots.”
5833 Pelican Bay Blvd., Naples
The Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall on the campus of Edison College features the largest proscenium stage in Southwest Florida. The 1,871-seat facility offers a six-show series of traveling Broadway performances, such as “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Riverdance” and “Mamma Mia!” The Mel Brooks musical, “The Producers,” and “Disney's The Lion King” have played here.
13350 Edison Pkwy., Fort Myers
The Times-Union Center for the Performing Arts, originally opened in 1962 and re-opened in 1997 after renovations, is known as the First Coast’s “premiere riverfront entertainment facility.” With seating for almost 3,000, its Moran Theater was designed for theatrical performances. Broadway in Jacksonville is presented by Florida State College at Jacksonville in conjunction with Broadway Across America. Look for such hits as “Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella” and “Mamma Mia.”
300 W. Water St., Jacksonville
The Thrasher-Horne Center for the Arts is a performing arts venue and conference center owned and operated by St. Johns River State College outside of Jacksonville. It features four to five nationally touring Broadway shows each season.
283 College Drive, Orange Park
The Peabody Auditorium, first opened in 1949, has presented such acclaimed Broadway productions as “Cats,” “A Chorus Line,” “Rent” and “Chicago.” The 2,521-seat theater features at least four to six touring Broadway shows each season.
600 Auditorium Blvd., Daytona Beach