At the heart of every hit stage show is a compelling story. Audiences turn to live theater to be transported to another place and time, to see the world through a different lens and to be entertained. Theater offers something that can’t be experienced from watching TV; the actors create an intimate relationship with the audience, which makes seeing a live stage performance much more impactful than parking on the couch and snuggling up to Netflix. When shows celebrate the tenacity, power and grace of the female gender, there’s even more of an intimate connection. Such is the case with the 2016-2017 lineup at Tennessee Performing Arts Center, more commonly known as TPAC. “People can relate to a show with a strong female character in the lead role,” says Kathleen O’Brien, president and chief executive officer at TPAC. “Even though the story may be set in a different era or location than our own, there are universal themes that we all connect with.”
This season’s lineup of shows was carefully selected, as they are each year, which is why TPAC’s loyal theater-goers keep coming back year after year. “TPAC belongs to the Broadway League and is very tied into what the industry is doing,” Kathleen says. TPAC executives visit regional shows before they hit Broadway to learn what’s out there and what’s worth investing in. After judicious research, the season is curated. “We try to have an anchor show, a blockbuster,” Kathleen explains. “We try to have something for families. We look at what might be considered an edgy show, something to stimulate thought. We look for good entertainment — strong stories that our audiences can relate to.” And this season absolutely knocks it out of the park. Here are four shows from TPAC’s stellar season lineup that not only have extremely compelling storylines, but strong female leads as well.
Lead role: Eva Perón
Run dates: September 9-18, 2016
Activist, suffragist and venerated celebrity, Eva Perón captivated a nation as Argentina’s First Lady, and Evita chronicles her life and work, from her humble beginnings in the rural lowlands of South America through her ascent to fame, fortune and an untimely death. While there have been a rock opera concept album back in 1976 as well as a 1996 film featuring pop musician Madonna, the stage show is, at once, both familiar and new, as the story is endlessly significant, fueled by Perón’s passion and combativeness.
The Sound of Music
Lead role: Maria Rainer
Run dates: February 14-19, 2017
This production of The Sound of Music is fresh and new, making it a must-see. The beloved musical story of Maria and the von Trapp family features an award-winning score, and audiences will thrillingly mouth along to songs like “Favorite Things,” “Do-Re-Mi,” “Edelweiss” and so many more. It’s a great option for a family night out!
Lead role: Rachel Marron
Run dates: March 21-26, 2017
The award-winning musical The Bodyguard is based on the smash hit film starring. Featuring irresistible classics like “Queen of the Night,” “I Have Nothing” and one of the biggest sellers of all time, “I Will Always Love You,” this romantic thriller tells the story of a vocal superstar who hires a former secret service agent to protect her from a stalker. Audiences will be chilled and overheated in the same night as they watch the lead characters fall in love unexpectedly.
Beautiful — The Carole King Musical
Lead role: Carole King
Run dates: May 23-28, 2017
Beautiful — The Carole King Musical tells the inspiring true story of music legend Carole King’s rise to stardom. Featuring a stunning array of beloved songs including “I Feel The Earth Move,” “One Fine Day,” “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” and “You’ve Got A Friend,” this musical celebrates the soundtrack of a generation, highlighting a woman who helped pave the way for females in the music industry.
Tennessee Performing Arts Center is located at 505 Deaderick St., Nashville, TN 37243. The only official place to buy tickets online is at TPAC.org, where you can also learn more about all of TPAC’s upcoming shows.
Sponsored by Tennessee Performing Arts Center