The McCallum Theatre has announced its new lineup for the 2020-2021 season, with an exciting schedule of debuts, along with iconic superstars, long-awaited return visits from show business royalty, plus a robust comedy lineup and an impressive array of Broadway’s most cherished, long-running shows.
Additionally, some innovative tribute shows are planned, as well as the third season of National Geographic Live presentations, and McCallum signature events including Jeffrey Siegel’s Keyboard Conversations series, Family Fun Day, Mitch’s Picks, The Palm Desert Choreography Festival and more. Tickets are available online only at McCallumTheatre.com. There are no phone orders. The Box Office located at the McCallum Theatre is closed. The only way to purchase tickets is through the theatre’s official website.
“The events of recent weeks have been a challenge for our community and for the world” said McCallum Theatre Acting President Mitch Gershenfeld. “We have every hope that come fall, we will have returned to a greater degree of normalcy. As such, we present our new season schedule to McCallum audiences and Coachella Valley residents and visitors with the greatest of optimism and a strong sense that, as a community, we all are eager to have something to which we can look forward with anticipation and excitement.”
“We know that when life returns to normal, The McCallum Theatre will be here doing what we have done for over 30 years – providing the best arts presentations to our community and arts education to our children,” added Gershenfeld. “We deeply hope our McCallum family will be with us in the new season.”
The official start of the 2020-2021 McCallum Theatre season, as it has been for eight previous years is Family Fun Day on Oct. 10. Sponsored by the City of Palm Desert and The H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation, this year’s featured performance is The Little Mermaid, a brand-new musical pantomime adventure performed by The Panto Company USA, which charmed McCallum audiences last season with their production of Rumpelstiltskin. The 3 p.m. participatory theater performance will be followed by food and fun on the McCallum grounds including arts-related games, face painting, photo booths and more.
The popular McCallum Theatre Education presentation of the Palm Desert Choreography Festival is slated for Nov. 14 and 15. Marking its 23rd year of bringing the finest original dance from across the nation to desert audiences, the two-day celebration awards prize money to established and emerging choreographers and highlights participants from two signature education division programs, East Valley Dance Project and The Studio Project. A lifetime achievement award will be presented to a major influencer from the dance world, to be announced. The Palm Desert Choreography Festival is presented through the generosity of The City of Palm Desert.
The 2020-2021 McCallum Theatre Broadway season is something to sing about. Starting with a new North American tour by Blue Man Group, the global phenomenon seen by more than 35 million people. They’re still blue, but the rest is new. The Blue Men will stop in Palm Desert for five performances from Nov. 27-29. It’s always “just too good to be true” when Jersey Boys returns to the McCallum, which it will do for five performances from Jan. 15-17, 2021. Featuring the hits and story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, the Tony Award-winning Best Musical always delights.
Recent Broadway hit, Summer: The Donna Summer Story makes its McCallum debut on Jan. 19 and 20, 2021, with a score including more than 20 of the diva’s classic hits including “Love to Love You Baby,” “Bad Girls” and “Hot Stuff.” The month of January 2021 closes out at the McCallum with a powerful and stirring reinvention of Riverdance. For eight performances, this beloved favorite, celebrated the world over, will give audiences the opportunity to fall in love all over again with the magic and majesty of this passionate homage to Irish and international dance. (Jan. 26-31, 2021).
There’s more Broadway as the season progresses including the McCallum Theatre debut of Come From Away, the long-running hit musical that takes audiences into the heart of the remarkable true story of 7,000 stranded passengers on 9/11 and the small town in Newfoundland that welcomed them. This New York Times Critic’s Pick will come to Palm Desert for eight performances only from Feb. 3-7, 2021. Winner of eight Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Les Misérables returns to the McCallum for the first time since 1993. The show will have eight performances at the McCallum from March 23-28, 2021.
The giddy and glorious Hairspray makes a second visit to the McCallum after last appearing at the Theatre in 2008. This new touring production about 16-year-old Tracy Turnblad’s goal to dance her way onto TV in the 1960s, reunites the original creative team of director Jack O’Brien and choreographer Jerry Mitchell to prove to a new generation that “You Can’t Stop the Beat.” (April 2-4, 2021). Finally, desert audiences will have another chance to enjoy last season’s sellout sensation, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical, when this joyful tribute to the soundtrack of a generation returns to the McCallum from April 8-10, 2021.
An additional theatrical event is the McCallum debut of Chazz Palminteri’s A Bronx Tale: The Original One Man Show on March 31, 2021. And longtime McCallum friend Steve Solomon returns to the desert with an all new show, My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m Still in Therapy for three performances, Feb. 26 and 27, 2021.
The fun gets underway on Nov. 1 with the 6-foot-2 charmer and humorist, Jeanne Robertson, a YouTube sensation whose videos include “Don’t Bungee Jump Naked.” Paula Poundstone first appeared at the McCallum in 2001 and has returned twice since. For her Nov. 20 show, the ‘Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me” star will undoubtedly employ her impeccable timing and razor-sharp wit to elicit major guffaws. McCallum audiences have been waiting since 2009 to see The Smothers Brothers together again in Palm Desert (Dec. 4-5).
The only group in America that attempts to be funnier than Congress, Capitol Steps, makes a return visit to the McCallum on Jan. 10, 2021. The troupe is comprised of current and former congressional staffers who take a humorous look at serious issues. Britain’s living legend of comedy, John Cleese will lead audiences on what he refers to as “a mean-spirited walk” through his life and laughs on Feb. 13, 2021. Former Tonight Show host Jay Leno brings his unique charm, comedy and charisma back to the McCallum for two shows on Feb. 21, 2021.
The enormously successful National Geographic Live series enters its third season in 2020-2021 with a fourth program added to the roster. This engaging series brings to the McCallum thought-provoking presentations by today’s leading explorers, scientists and photographers. The new season includes: Into the Arctic Kingdom (Nov. 16) with photographer Florian Shulz’s quest into an unchartered wilderness; filmmaker and conservationist Filipe DeAndrade’s Untamed gives an unfiltered look at what it’s like to come face to face with wild animals and survive extreme environments (Jan. 12, 2021); Nature Roars Back (February 15, 2021) showcases Emmy Award-winning wildlife filmmaker Bob Poole’s documentation of the rebirth of Mozambique’s Gorongosa National Park; and the series concludes with photojournalist David Guttenfelder’s A Rare Look: North Korea to Cuba (March 8, 2021), a discussion about how he has broken through political barriers to reveal isolated nations to the world.
Returning for a seventh season, Mitch’s Picks, showcases artists with whom Coachella Valley audiences may not yet be familiar, but come with the personal recommendation of McCallum Acting President and Director of Programming Mitch Gershenfeld. Once again this season, all five shows are McCallum Theatre debuts.
The swinging starts on Nov. 21 with Harlem 100 Featuring Mwenso & The Shakes, a multi-media concert celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Harlem Renaissance. Philharmonix (Feb. 10, 2021) features The Vienna Berlin Music Club including three members of the Vienna Philharmonic, two Berlin Philharmonic soloists, one of the most versatile Austrian pianists and an improvising and singing violinist for a deliciously heady cocktail of classical, jazz, klezmer, Latin, pop music and good old fun. The sounds from the City of Brotherly Love make their way cross-country when Joey DeFrancesco and his Philadelphia Reunion Band come to Palm Desert on Feb. 24, 2021. Along with Kevin Eubanks, Lil’ John Roberts and Orrin Evans, these four favorite sons come together for an explosive evening of swinging jazz and greasy real-deal funk.
The British vocal ensemble VOCES8 is known for its versatility and celebration of diverse musical expression. Their singing has been hailed as “impeccable in its quality of tone and balance,” by Gramophone (March 3, 2021). Finally, the “Sad Clown with the Golden Voice” brings Puddles Pity Party to the McCallum on March 5, 2021. The veteran of America’s Got Talent who has over 200 million YouTube views, was called “fantastically brilliant” by producer/judge Simon Cowell.
Now in its 19th McCallum season, Jeffrey Siegel’s Keyboard Conversations continues to delight audiences with its insider look at classical composers and compositions and their intriguing history. For 2020-2021, Siegel is back with four programs including: Celebrating Beethoven (Nov. 30); Schubert – The Soulful and the Sublime (Jan. 18, 2021); Chopin – Torment and Triumph (Feb. 22, 2021); and Evocative Visions (March 15, 2021). Additionally, McCallum favorite Hershey Felder will bring his one-man show, Beethoven to the McCallum for two performances on Feb. 8 and 9, 2021. The Chicago Sun-Times called the premiere of this work, “a hypnotic production – a chamber music piece of exquisite beauty.”
For more than three decades, the world’s finest and most popular artists have returned to the McCallum time and again. The new season’s power-packed list of sensational superstars includes performers that represent the widest spectrum of the performing arts from country to jazz to pop to Broadway/cabaret with a little cuchi-cuchi thrown in for good measure.
First up is two-time Grammy Award-winner LeAnn Rimes on Nov. 7. The first country singer to win a Grammy for Best New Artist, Rimes is a singer, songwriter, actress and author who has captivated audiences since she rose to stardom at the age of 13. For pure, joyful nostalgia, nothing beats The Lettermen whose harmonies have garnered 18 Gold albums worldwide and a popularity that has endured generations. Their performance on Nov. 22 is made possible through the generosity of The City of Rancho Mirage.
Cesar Millan: My Story Unleashed brings the “Dog Whisperer” back to the McCallum for the first time since 2014 with the story of his remarkable life and passion for transforming lives (Dec. 6). A great holiday tradition at the McCallum continues when Dave Koz & Friends bring their Christmas Tour 2020 to the valley on Dec. 20 with fresh and lively arrangements of season favorites in a high-energy show for the entire family. The new year starts off on Jan. 6, 2021 with the long-awaited return of Broadway diva Patti LuPone and her show, Don’t Monkey with Broadway which was delayed from last season. Hitmaker Neil Sedaka is back for two performances on Jan. 8 and 9, 2021 showcasing his jukebox of songs from an impressive 60-year career. The stunning and multi-talented Vanessa Williams will perform an evening of songs spanning multiple genres on Jan. 23, 2021.
In addition, McCallum audiences can look forward to return visits by favorites Jackie Evancho, the multi-platinum artist who is launching a new album and world tour (February 12, 2021); Michael Feinstein, who will celebrate Valentine’s Day with McCallum audiences with his show, Isn’t It Romantic, featuring music from the Great American Songbook (Feb. 14, 2021); another Broadway diva, Kristin Chenoweth returns to the desert for two shows on Feb. 19 and 20, 2021 with her popular hits, along with songs from her latest album, For the Girls, her tribute to the great female singers throughout history; Linda Eder will be back showcasing one of the greatest voices of our time. With a diverse repertoire that spans Broadway, standards, pop, country and jazz, Eder exudes joy on stage (March 6, 2021); and the one and only Charo makes her first appearance at the McCallum since 2006 when she appeared in a Salute to America’s Veterans. Her March 21, 2021 show will also feature special guests, Olé, a trio of eccentric characters who entertain audiences by competing with their guitars, voices and energy.
The world comes to the McCallum with three holiday performances with an international flair, plus two others later in the season. A tradition six centuries in the making, the Vienna Boys Choir will bring a program featuring Austrian folk songs, classical masterpieces, popular songs and holiday favorites when they kick off the McCallum holiday season on Nov. 23, followed by Tis the Season with Cameron Carpenter and the International Touring Organ (Dec. 1). Although Pennsylvania-born, Carpenter has traveled the world with his famed international touring organ. Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker is always a seasonal highlight with over 200 dazzling costumes, stunning sets, towering puppets and soaring birds. This cherished holiday performance comes to the McCallum on Dec. 17.
Later in the season, the National Dance Company of Siberia comes to the McCallum on March 1, 2021, direct from Karsnyarsk, Siberia. From fierce Cossack bravado to charming peasant traditional dances, the troupe of performers – 50 dancers strong – has thrilled audiences around the world. Back by popular demand, Bravo Amici boasts a mix of handsome tenors and stunning divas performing their signature “classical crossover” repertoire of well-known classical and contemporary songs. They number among their fan base everyone from Elton John to the British Royalty (March 30, 2021).
The new McCallum season is a big year for major tribute shows including three first timers at the Theatre. Presented by the City of Rancho Mirage, Ray on My Mind is a concert/theater piece that brings the story of the great Ray Charles to vivid life. With an 11-piece orchestra and three sultry singers (a la The Raylettes), the show depicts Ray’s struggles and successes through interweaving his memorable songs with monologues (Jan. 14, 2021). The Life and Music of George Michael (Jan. 22, 2021) celebrates one of the world’s most beloved artists. One Night of Queen is performed by Gary Mullen & The Works (March 4, 2021) in a spectacular live concert recreating the look, sound, pomp and showmanship of arguably the greatest rock band of all time. And McCallum royalty are honored in A Tribute to Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gormé, a loving look at two legends who considered the McCallum their home away from home. Delayed from last season, the show is created by and stars their son, composer David Lawrence and Tony Award-winner Debbie Gravitte, along with a 32-piece orchestra, original orchestrations and classic, exclusive video (March 13, 2021).
Other season highlights include the musical delights of Postmodern Jukebox (Nov. 18); the ever-irrepressible Storm Large, with her great band, Le Bonheur (Feb. 25, 2021); and the McCallum debut of Masters of Harmony (Feb. 28, 2021). The nine-time International Chorus Champions has over 100 members and have competed with more than 800 choirs.
For the first time since 2013, the world-renowned Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsalis returns to the McCallum on Jan. 21, 2021. Comprised of 15 of the finest jazz soloists and ensemble players today, this remarkably versatile orchestra performs a vast repertoire ranging from original compositions to commissioned works to masterworks. Keeping in the jazz realm, McCallum perennials Steve Tyrell and Chris Botti will return on March 19 and 20, respectively.
Rosanne Cash makes her McCallum debut on Feb. 18, 2021, with guest John Leventhal. One of the country’s pre-eminent singer/songwriters, Cash has earned four Grammy Awards and 21 Top 40 hits. Producer Neil Berg will offer tributes to both with Neil Berg’s 102 Years of Broadway (March 9 and 10, 2021) and Neil Berg’s 50 Years of Rock-N-Roll, Part 2 (March 11 and 12, 2021). Another hypnotic show, always popular at the McCallum, is the 64th Annual Edition of It’s Magic, presented on March 14, 2021 by the City of Rancho Mirage.
Finally, two shows have been added to the McCallum roster since the season brochure went to print. They are: Straight No Chaser, the popular a cappella group, rescheduled from this past season to Feb. 17, 2021; and the return of Highwaymen, a musical tribute to Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings on March 2, 2021.
For updates and added performamces visit mccallumtheatre.com or on the McCallum Facebook page.