RiverPark announces Broadway series lineup

·4 min read

Aug. 10—The RiverPark Center is looking forward to putting on a strong Broadway series for the 2022-23 season.

The "Broadway in Owensboro at RiverPark Center" series, sponsored by Truist Bank, will include performances of four touring shows.

The series will begin with "Anastasia" on Nov. 10, followed by "STOMP" on Jan. 17, "The Simon & Garfunkel Story" on Feb. 28 and "Jesus Christ Superstar" on April 16.

Rich Jorn, executive director of the RiverPark Center, is happy to be able to showcase diverse offerings, and he feels shows on the lineup complement one another.

"We've got little capsules of time," he said. " 'Anastasia' is the Russian revolution, 'STOMP' is kind of like a timeless percussion thing and very American, (and) 'The Simon & Garfunkel Story' is that peace music and protest music and a generation soundtrack put together."

Particularly, Jorn is excited about the inclusion of "Jesus Christ Superstar."

"I have two or three of my favorite musicals — that's basically 'Jesus Christ Superstar,' 'Hair' and 'Sweeney Todd,' " he said. "I've been fortunate enough to work on a production of ('Jesus Christ Superstar') where I was just immersed in it."

While the RiverPark Center hosted the Broadway series in 2021-22, it faced obstacles throughout, including two shows — "Hairspray" and "Waitress" — being canceled the day of the scheduled performance, cutting the series' offerings in half.

For "Hairspray," which was set for March, Jorn attributes the cancellation to "a series of errors."

"The venue (the show) had the night before didn't have a loading dock, so they had to load it from the street level and forklift," he said. "That adds a lot of time on to your load out, so that put that tour behind.

"They didn't get to our venue in a timely fashion (and) missed their own call time by about an hour, hour-and-a-half."

When the local crew of over 50 people arrived, they were required to be tested for COVID-19, but there were issues with the scanning of the QR code, followed by a bird hitting a transformer that caused the power to go out in the facility for an hour.

"It was just a series of these things that put them behind at that point, but they were like, 'We're not going to safely make (it work),' " he said. "Then we heard (sometime) later, (a good portion of the) cast had COVID. I think it was a combination of what they told us on the ground (and) what we saw on the ground with the cast not feeling well."

When "Waitress" arrived in April, Jorn said all was going according to schedule until a dispute arose among crew members who disagreed with the COVID protocols, including having to wear a mask.

Despite being able to replace them quickly with his own staff members that had the necessary experience, Jorn said he was told by one of the tech personnel that they didn't have enough people despite meeting the threshold.

"Reading the paper the next day, I see there's two tours of 'Waitress' out — one was a union tour and one was a non-union tour," Jorn said. "We had the non-union tour, who found out and realized that they were doing the same amount of work as the union tour but getting paid a third. We think we were in the middle of a labor dispute, and we caught the back end of it and were told we didn't have enough people."

Despite the issues, Jorn said that RiverPark Center is still under contract with the third-party entity that coordinates the Broadway shows.

"None of it left me feeling good about that relationship and how things were going down," he said. "It was very, very disappointing.

"We've aired it out. They know how I feel ... and hopefully moving forward we won't have any problems."

Jorn said this is the last year of the three-year contract with the company.

"To tell you the truth, I love booking shows; I love the hunt and to find stuff that's out there," Jorn said. "Moving forward, we're going to reevaluate the contract and the relationship, and, hopefully, we'll either get some guarantees or just branch off or do our own thing."

For more information go to riverparkcenter.org or call 270-687-2770.

Ticket subscriptions will include an "add on" show, "Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer: The Musical," which will be Dec. 7.