Two national touring shows will visit Fort Smith in February as part of the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith’s Season of Entertainment 33 -- one featuring an adaptation of a famous literary work, the other a retelling of a popular cheerleading movie.
“Man of La Mancha” will be shown at 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Arkansas Best Performing Arts Center, and Troika Entertainment will present “Bring It On: The Musical” 7:30 p.m. Feb. 17 at the same venue.
The productions, shown nearly two weeks apart, bring two vastly different stories to the stage. “Man of La Mancha” retells Miguel Cervantes’ classic novel “Don Quixote,” which recounts the comedic story of a man who has read so many chivalric novels that he becomes delusively convinced he is a knight himself. “Bring It On: The Musical,” inspired by the movie of the same name, is a light-hearted adaptation chronicling the challenges of competitive cheerleading.
“Man of La Mancha” won five Tony Awards and garnered praise from critics for its catchy songs and enthralling story. The New York Times said the show had “charm, gallantry and delicacy of spirit.” The Associated Press called the musical “a rare and arresting treat,” and The New Yorker said “Man of La Mancha” was “grave and compelling.”
“Bring It On” earned two Tony nominations including Best Musical and features an accomplished set of writers and musicians, including Tony Award-winning composer Lin-Manuel Miranda, Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning composer Tom Kitt, and Tony Award-winning choreographer Andy Blankenbuehler.
Stacey Jones of Fort Smith, associate vice chancellor for campus and community events, lauded both musicals.
“‘Man of La Mancha’ is one of the best traditional musicals ever written, and ‘The Impossible Dream’ is one of the best musical songs of all time,” he said. “‘Bring It On’ is a fantastic show also, and it’s generated more interest in the area than any show we’ve had in a long time. The Broadway version has done a lot better than the original movie.”
Jones said the two shows will attract different audiences.
“I expect both shows to be sold out, but you will see two different demographics at each show,” he said. “Traditional theatre lovers will go to both, but we’ve seen a lot of interest from the younger market in ‘Bring It On,’ while ‘Man of La Mancha’ will attract a more seasoned audience.”
The shows are part of Season of Entertainment 33, a year-long lineup of entertainment sponsored by the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith. The season features a slew of musicals, plays, and symphonic performances, including “The Addams Family” and “Crimes of the Heart.”
The Arkansas Best Performing Arts Center is located at the Fort Smith Convention Center, 55 S. 7th St. Tickets for “Man of La Mancha” and “Bring It On” are, per show, $35 for lower-tier seating and $32 for upper tier. To purchase tickets, call the Box Office at 479-788-7300 or visit uafs.universitytickets.com.