Tributes to Jimmy Buffett, Carole King, Donna Summer all a part of new Broadway season at Wilson Center

“Beautiful: The Carole King Musical” was rescheduled from 2020-21 to Jan. 25-27, 2022 at Wilson Center. (Port City Daily/Courtesy Wilson Center)

WILMINGTON — After a year of being shuttered and having to cancel or reschedule its numerous shows, The Wilson Center will be lifting the curtain once again for the 2021-22 season. The Cape Fear Community College state-of-the-art theater has announced its new Broadway season, which brings through top talent from shows that launch on the Great White Way.

The upcoming season includes seven musicals, many of which will be a first for Wilmington audiences, including “Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville,” “SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical,” and “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.” “Beautiful” was scheduled as part of its 2020-21 season but was pushed because of Covid-19 shutdowns.

Wilson Center has been operating at limited capacity, mainly for Opera House Theater Company’s summer season, which allowed 398 patrons in the audience at a time. That will balloon to full capacity in the 1,500-seated venue; though the shows are back on, the mask mandates will stay in place until otherwise noted.

Tickets for the shows will be $25 and up and there will also be a “choose-your-own” subscription, which offers discounts on packages for tickets purchased for three or more shows. Subscribers of the package will be able to choose from the full season, as well as shows that have been pushed from last season, including “CATS” and Blue Man Group.

Tickets for Cape Fear Stage members go on sale Monday, Aug. 30 at 2 p.m. (phone sales only) and to the general public on Tuesday, Sept. 7.

All tickets and choose-your-own packages open online and via phone on Monday, Sept. 13, 10 a.m., for Cape Fear Stage members and the general public on Monday, Sept. 20, 10 a.m. Group ticket sales can be inquired upon at or by emailing

Here is the rundown of dates and shows for the upcoming PNC Bank Broadway Season:

Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville

November 2-3, 7:30 p.m.

With book by Emmy-winner Greg Garcia (“My Name is Earl,” “Raising Hope”) and Emmy-nominee Mike O’Malley (“Survivors Remorse,” “Shameless”) “Escape to Margaritaville” follows the story of a oart-time bartender in the Caribbean who falls love with a career-minded tourist.

The musical comedy — which apparently contains erupting volcanos and zombies — contains Jimmy Buffett classics like “Fins,” “Volcano,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and more.

An Officer and a Gentleman

December 15-16, 7:30 p.m.

Based on the Oscar-winning 1982 film starring Debra Winger and Richard Gere, “An Officer and a Gentleman” first debuted as a musical in 2012. It features the Grammy Award-winning hit “Up Where We Belong,” as well as an ’80s-packed soundtrack: “Higher Love” (Steve Winwood), “Owner of a Lonely Heart” (Yes), “Love is a Battlefield” and “Invincible” (Pat Benatar), “Lost In Your Eyes” (Debbie Gibson), “Right Here Waiting” (Richard Marx), and “Venus” (Bananarama). 

The story follows the affair of boot camp Navy pilot Zack Mayo and Paul Pokrifki, a local factory girl. The two fall madly in love and through tragedy learn to relish life’s important gifts: love and friendship, courage and hope.

A new stage adaptation was created from Tony Award nominee Dick Scanlan (“Thoroughly Modern Millie,” “Everyday Rapture”) and is based on the original screenplay by Douglas Day Stewart.

SUMMER: The Donna Summer Musical

January 21, 7:30 p.m., and January 22, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The disco era’s icon started out as a gospel choir girl from Boston who took to the stage for the first time at age 10. As a teen, she moved overseas to perform in “Hair” in 1967, and continued to live there even after she become a pop star. Though, her music wasn’t as popular in her resident country Germany as other places worldwide, Donna Summer was a worldwide diva by the ’70s.

The story shows how she took risks to break through barriers and launched hits aplenty, including “Love to Love You Baby,” “Bad Girls,” and “Hot Stuff.”

The show debuted in 2017, with book by Colman Domingo, Robert Cary, and Des McAnuff. It features 20 of Summer’s hits.

Beautiful: The Carole King Musical

January 25, 26 and 27, 7:30 p.m.

From a teenage songwriter to a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame superstar, the music of Carole King has been hailed by musicians, singers, producers, and audiences alike.

The music of her career comes to life in “Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.” It follows the story of both the Tony- and Grammy Award-winning musician’s rise to stardom. From the days of writing songs with her husband Gerry Goffin, to her relationship with fellow writers and best friends Cynthia Weil and Barry Mann, King has maintained success across many platforms of popular music.

“You’ve Got a Friend,” “One Fine Day,” “Up on the Roof,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” and “Natural Woman” all are featured in the jukebox musical, with book by Douglas McGrath.


March 19, 7:30 p.m., and March 20, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The musical “Hairspray” is based on John Water’s quirky cinematic dream from 1988. It first hit the Broadway stage in 2002, with music and lyrics by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman and book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. The next year “Hairspray” won eight out of 13 Tony’s, including Best Musical. It went on to run for 2,642 performances, before closing on January 4, 2009.

The story follows a bubbly 16-year-old Tracy Turnblad, who is living in 1960’s Baltimore with a dream to make it onto a local TV dancing program, “The Corny Collins Show.” Once on the show, Turnblad grows into a celebrity and decides to utilize her platform to create social change.

Songs inclue “Welcome to the ’60s,” “Good Morning Baltimore,” “It Takes Two,” and “Ladies Choice.”

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

April 26-27, 7:30 p.m.

From the songwriters of “Hairspray,” Roald Dahl’s famed children’s tale gets a new score as it traverses the chocolate river and fear tunnel, inventing and testing rooms of every audience member’s imagination. All those favorite tunes from the original film are there too: “Pure Imagination,” “The Candy Man,” and “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket.”

The story — with book by David Greig, music by Marc Shaiman and lyrics by Shaiman and Scott Wittman — remains tried and true: Willy Wonka’s enigmatic chocolate factory will be officially opening, but only a lucky few can enter. One happens to be Charlie Bucket, along with four other golden-ticket winners, Veruca Salt, Augustus Gloop, Violet Beauregarde, and Mike Teavee. A wondrous experience unfolds, including meeting the Oompa-Loompas and riding with Wonka in the great glass elevator.

South Pacific

April 30 at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Set on a tropical island during World War II, the 1949 classic show follows two couples, who fall in love and face racial prejudices, which they must overcome amidst impending war. The musical won 10 Tony Awards and a Pulitzer Prize for its handling of controversial themes of race in the mid-19th century.

Many of its songs — “Bali Ha’i,” “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Outa My Hair,” “Some Enchanted Evening,” “There Is Nothing Like a Dame,” “Happy Talk,” “Younger Than Springtime,” and “I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy” — also have become American pop standards.

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