Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts Music Director Thomas Hall (L) and Education Director Kira Lace Hawkins (R) perform a song from “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” during the Director’s Club Dinner Sunday evening at the Winona Heritage Room in Winona Lake. “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” is at the Wagon Wheel Aug. 11-20. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts Music Director Thomas Hall (L) and Education Director Kira Lace Hawkins (R) perform a song from “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” during the Director’s Club Dinner Sunday evening at the Winona Heritage Room in Winona Lake. “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” is at the Wagon Wheel Aug. 11-20. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union
WINONA LAKE - Members of the Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts Director’s Club got to hear about the 2023 summer season lineup Sunday during the Director’s Club Dinner at the Winona Heritage Room.

The season will feature two musicals that the Wagon Wheel has never done before, three returning musicals and a mystery play to be announced Oct. 31. The play also is a new show for the Wagon Wheel.

Artistic Director Scott Michaels said, “I’m here today to announce our 2023 season. In case you don’t know, it takes a full year to figure out. We’re already talking about what we’re doing in 2024. It takes a long time to figure out what we’re going to do, to get a hold of all the rights and organizations and figure out dates and all of that kind of stuff, so it’s a long process.”

With Covid, he said everything’s a “little more complicated” and it took a little longer to get the plan together.

The play is scheduled for July 27 to Aug. 5, 2023, but Michaels could not announce what that is because there’s a restriction on it right now, but it has been decided. The mystery play’s rights will clear in October and then they can announce what it will be.

Kicking off the 2023 season will be Disney’s “The Little Mermaid,” June 1-10. The Wagon Wheel previously produced the show eight years ago.

“In case you missed it, it’s an amazing show. There’s flying in it. You’re not going to want to miss it. It’s a huge spectacular and great for the whole family,” Michaels said.

The second show will be Jimmy Buffett’s “Escape to Margaritaville,” June 15-24.

“It’s a brand new show for us and a brand new show for the country. It’s just been released so we’re very excited to be one of the first regional theaters to get that show next summer,” Michaels said.

The show is based around all of Buffett’s music woven into a story.

The third show the Wagon Wheel hasn’t done since 2004 - “Kiss Me Kate,” June 29 to July 8, 2023. Michaels pointed out that “Kiss Me Kate” is the very first show that Wagon Wheel longtime actors and guest directors Andy Robinson and Ben Dicke ever did together. Hopefully, Michaels said, Robinson and Dicke are directing the 2023 production that features the music of Cole Porter.

Another brand new show to the Wagon Wheel - “Jesus Christ Super Star - is in the fourth slot, July 13-22.

Michaels said he’ll be very excited to work on it. “We’ve been trying to get it in our season for the last four years or plus, but it’s always been on tour or there’s been restrictions, so we’ve finally got it this year so I’m really excited,” he said.

After skipping the “play I can not announce,” Michaels said the final show of the 2023 summer season will be “Always ... Patsy Cline,” Aug. 10-19, 2023. It will star Kira Lace Hawkins and Jennifer Dow, who appeared in the show in 2020 under a tent due to the Covid pandemic. Michaels said attendance was about 200 total for the 12 shows.

“It’ll be nice to have a full theater again to actually do that show the way it should be done. We felt, it’ll be three years next summer since we did that (show), and all of our subscribers were so disappointed that ... they didn’t get a chance to see that show, so we thought this was a great chance to bring that back to finish our season next year,” Michaels said.