After the McCallum Theatre announced the addition of more than a dozen shows to the 2014-2015 season, I asked Mitch Gershenfeld—the McCallum’s president, CEO and chief booker—if he was done adding to the lineup.
“There may be one or two more things,” he said. “We may have one or two surprises up our sleeves, but the calendar’s getting pretty full.”
He’s not kidding: In February, for example, the McCallum is booked for 24 of the month’s 28 days. In March, only six days are open. The packed schedule is one reason why the Palm Desert venue is usually the top-selling theater in California—and one of the top-selling theaters in the world—each spring, according to Pollstar magazine.
Another reason: the quality and variety of the shows at the McCallum. Highlights of the new additions to the schedule include Ray LaMontagne, on Tuesday, Oct. 21; Vince Gill and the Time Jumpers, on Monday, Nov. 10; country music legend Willie Nelson and Family, on Wednesday, Jan. 7; comedy great Jay Leno, on Saturday, Jan. 24; and “American Pie” legend Don McLean on Tuesday, March 17.
When asked which of the new additions about which he was particularly excited, Gershenfeld mentioned Jay Leno, the former Tonight Show host.
“That should be a lot of fun. We’ve never worked with him before,” Gershenfeld said of Leno.
Not many comics are a good fit for a mid-size venue like the McCallum, Gershenfeld noted, although he said he’s happy with the McCallum’s comedy lineup this season, which includes a newly announced stop by the Last Comic Standing tour (Sunday, Nov. 23), and a previously announced show by the legendary Bob Newhart (Friday, Feb. 20).
Gershenfeld also said he was looking forward to the performance by music great Ray LaMontagne. He will play just two days after the McCallum’s new season officially kicks off with the theater’s third-annual Family Fun day.
“He usually plays much larger rooms,” Gershenfeld said about the Grammy-winning singer. “… Everything aligned the right way (for him to perform at the McCallum).”
Gershenfeld also mentioned newly booked shows by two country greats: Willie Nelson, and Vince Gill and the Time Jumpers.
“Willie likes to play the McCallum,” Gershenfeld said. “We’re really happy we can bring him back.”
As for Vince Gill’s show, it’s the inclusion of the Time Jumpers that will make that performance truly special, Gershenfeld said.
“In country music, there are a lot of musicians who reside in Nashville, and do nothing but record,” he explained. “They’re incredible studio musicians—and that’s who the Time Jumpers are. They tour very rarely.”
Gershenfeld said he’s pleased with the “tremendous amount of variety” in the theater’s season, from the singers to the comedians to the Broadway shows, such as Nice Work If You Can Get It, which will stop at the McCallum for five shows March 13-15. The musical comedy, with music and lyrics by George and Ira Gershwin, wrapped up more than a year on Broadway in June 2013, and just began the national tour that will eventually bring it to the McCallum.
“It’s the best Gershwin musical to come to Broadway in perhaps 30 years,” he said.
Individual tickets for all shows during the McCallum Theatre’s 2014-2015 season went on sale on Tuesday, Sept. 16. For tickets, more information and a complete schedule of shows, visit www.mccallumtheatre.com.