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Published: Friday, 2/8/2013 - Updated: 1 year ago

‘War Horse,' ‘Rock of Ages' highlight 2013-2014 Broadway Series

BY ROSE RUSSELL

BLADE STAFF WRITER

Though it's several months before the 2013-14 Toledo Broadway Series at the Stranahan Theater gets under way, the lineup promises to be exciting, with the 2011 Tony Award Winner for Best Play, War Horse, the highlight of the season.

"I'm most excited about War Horse," said Mark Edelman, president of the Theater League, the Broadway presenters that brings an amazing array of shows to Toledo, one of eight cities on the National Broadway Tour.

"It's unusual for us to present a play. But it's more than a play. It's an amazing spectacle and theatrical magic," he said, and it will be that way even for those who have seen Steven Spielberg's movie, War Horse.

The life-size puppet horses were created by South Africa's Handspring Puppet Co. Of course they are not truly alive, but they appear to breathe and are strong enough to ride. Mr. Edelman said that it was telling when he was at a conference with some of the leading figures in show business who were struck by the life-sized puppet in the story set in World War I.

"I have never seen a quieter, more focused amazing room of people than when Joey the horse from War Horse came into the room, and it got quiet," he said. "There is violence, but it's a play, and it's suggestive. It's a beautiful story about a young boy and his love for horses. The theatrical magic is unlike any I've ever seen."

Additionally, many will identify with War Horse, scheduled to appear here Dec. 3 to 8, as it unfolds and depicts the emotional bond that exists between so many people and their beloved pets.

Other productions the Theater League will bring to Toledo include another Tony Award winning classic, and a classic rock inspired high-energy show.

Fifty years after opening on Broadway, Sally Struthers will star in Hello, Dolly! which starts the season. It is set for Oct. 24 to 27. The original, 1964 production has a stellar history, with 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. In 2002, the album, Hello, Dolly! was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. "Put on your Sunday Clothes," "It Only Takes a Moment," and "Before the Parade Passes By," are some of the scores Toledoans can expect to hear.

In February, 2014, Rock of Ages will have Toledoans ready to party. This production, set for Feb. 6 to 9, takes viewers back to 1987 on the Sunset Strip, where a small-town girl and a big-city rocker fall in love to some of the most memorable songs of the decade: Don't Stop Believing, We Built This City, The Final Countdown, Wanted Dead of Alive, and Here I Go Again. The production is recommended for mature audiences.

And wait: there's more. Can you say, "Blue Suede Shoes," "Hound Dog," "Fever," "That's All Right," and "Great Balls of Fire"? The Million Dollar Quartet will rock the house March 20 to 23, when it brings back to life one of the greatest jam sessions ever: Dec. 4, 1956, when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins gathered for only one time in Memphis.

The actors won't look like the rock and roll legends, but Mr. Edelman said that they are "young and energetic." He added that the "musical not only entertains – it tells a great story about the earliest days of rock and roll."

The Theater League president's favorite musical, West Side Story, is here May 1 to 4, 2014.

Two more special engagements are scheduled for the 2013-14 season: The award-winning American Idiot, which has won two 2010 Tony Awards and the 2011 Grammy Award for Best Musical Show Album, appears Feb. 22 and 23, 2014. Also, Stomp, in its 20th year, is here next Jan. 18 and 19.

Members who want to renew to seats for next season can do so by calling 419-381-8851 before March 11. Or, they can do so by going online to the theaterleague.com, or visit the Stranahan Theater box office. Theater League season members get the best seats and best prices before tickets are placed on sale to the public. While priority interest forms are being accepted for new membership, new members can visit the box office at the Stranahan to reserve a place in line for seats. Season tickets begin at $115 for all five of the main shows; there are payment plans.



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