DETROIT – Phone rings, door chimes, in comes Company, Wicked, Disney’s Frozen, Mrs. Doubtfire, SIX, To Kill a Mockingbird and, just announced, Funny Girl.
Broadway in Detroit surprised patrons with the announcement of the next season’s secret seventh show, Funny Girl, which is currently breaking box office records on Broadway.
After a successful 60th anniversary season which brought along titles like Mean Girls, Ain’t Too Proud and Dear Evan Hansen, the 61st season promises to be even more exciting with several shows that are currently running on Broadway or have just recently closed.
We talked to Broadway in Detroit’s general manager Jamie Budgett about what to expect this season:
Congratulations on a successful 60th anniversary season, how was it for you?
Incredibly strong. We kicked off back in June, which is slightly a strange timeline for us because we’re still feeling the effects of the pandemic and the way that some of the tours had to reroute. Kicking off the season in June, and then have a show in July and August is quite unusual because summer is traditionally our quieter time. That said, I think given how strong the titles were, and the pent-up demand of people wanting to get back into theaters, it’s been great. And when we were putting up our season together, it’s always about trying to find the balance and the variety, and I think we did well this season and we’ve done well again with this next season.
What are you most excited for this upcoming season?
Personally, the show I’m most excited for is Company, which I had the pleasure of seeing back in England during its West End run. I just thought it was fantastic. I’m a little bit biased because I am a massive Stephen Sondheim fan as well. But I think it’s one of those titles that perhaps people don’t recognize or know about. But I am certain when people see the production, they’ll be blown away by it just like I was.
Broadway in Detroit was actually the first to announce the Company tour.
We have our first show, SIX, in May, so we are announcing the season a lot earlier than other markets, so the tours are getting announced at the same time. We’re a little bit ahead of the curve there, but it’s nice to be first.
What do you think that says about the Broadway scene here in Detroit?
I think that it shows that it’s incredibly positive. It’s very encouraging that producers and booking agents see the appetite in Detroit and how successful shows can be and that’s why we’re lucky to get these fantastic shows.
Can you give me a bit about what goes on behind-the-scenes when booking the shows?
It’s always a bit of a balancing act, right? Because when you’re putting together the season, you want to make sure there’s enough variety that it’s going to appeal to as many people as possible. I think we’ve done that this season with new shows like Company and SIX which has never played here before. To Kill a Mockingbird, a play, which is unusual, but very exciting. Then you’ve got your return big hit like Wicked. And even though it’s never played here before, I put Frozen in that category as well. The big mega hits, well known titles, combined with the likes of Company that perhaps people haven’t heard of, but is hot off the track of an incredible Broadway run. Our goal is always to try and bring the best of Broadway to Detroit, so it’s always finding that balance, but always under that mission of the best of Broadway.
When building your season for Detroiters specifically, is there anything you’re looking for particularly?
It’s difficult to put everyone in the same category which is what’s so wonderful about it. For example, a title like Mrs. Doubtfire just felt like a fantastic show for the Detroit market. It’s a great title. It’s great fun. It appeals to a really broad range of ages. It can be a family show, it can be a nostalgia show for those grew up with the film. It’s got that wonderful range to it. You know that it’s hopefully going to be a big success in Detroit.
What made you want to include Wicked into the subscription this time around?
We just felt this time that it was ready to come back. It’s been a very long time. We found that’s been one of the shows that people are most excited about. Being able to put it back on the subscription means that people are getting the best price for it within the season package. It just felt like time, really.
And now Funny Girl has been announced as the seventh show for the season.
We’re super excited about it. It’s generating a huge amount of buzz and it’s a brilliant production. It’s one of those fantastic classic shows. We talked about this need to try and get a balance in the season. The difference between SIX and Funny Girl is astronomical, but it’s great to be able to provide that variety and always bringing the very best.
Is there anything new with the subscription packages this year?
For the first time, we have introduced a new entry level price for what we call “balcony two.” We’ve limited the number, but we felt it was important to have a new price level to appeal to more people to become a subscriber. Our starting price is $289 where usually we’d be around the 400 mark for a full season, so that’s a really positive change.
As well as being able to subscribe to the shows, we’re offering subscribers a chance to also subscribe to our new lounge. So for every Fisher Theatre show, you can come into the lounge and get a free drink. We’re trying to look at ways to really elevate the experience and reward our subscribers for being subscribers, because in many ways, they’re our most important people.
Is there anything else subscribers and patrons should look forward to in the coming future?
We do anticipate announcing a couple of additional shows. I always highly recommend to anyone who either loves theater or is just looking to broaden their horizons that the amazing thing about being a subscriber is that you have this opportunity to have seven dates on your diary across the year where you can go with a friend, a loved one, and share these experiences together. I think that’s what theater is all about. It’s an amazing way to get the best seats at the best price. Because we sell our subscriptions first, you also get first access to all the other specials. You may see shows that you never thought about seeing before and I think that’s what’s so wonderful.
Broadway in Detroit’s 2023-24 season:
SIX: May-June 2023
Funny Girl: September-October 2023
Company: October 2023
Mrs. Doubtfire: November 2023
Disney’s Frozen: November-December 2023
Wicked: January-February 2024
To Kill a Mockingbird: March 2023
Subscription packages for all seven shows start at $289. Current subscribers are now able to renew, and new subscriptions are available for purchase beginning March 21. For more information and to subscribe to the next season, visit BroadwayinDetroit.com.