Ari Levin

Gilbert resident Ari Levin is the man with the plan to make one of the Valley’s newer venues, the Madison Center for the Arts in Phoenix, an entertainment destination. See the story on page 18.

A Gilbert resident and performing arts legend aims to make a relatively new venue in Phoenix a go-to entertainment destination.

Ari Levin is now the executive director of the Madison Center for the Arts and has lined up a series of Broadway shows.

Located at 5601 N. 16th St., the Madison is a state-of-the-art, 160,000-square-foot venue featuring a 908-seat auditorium, extensive veranda and spacious lobby with a 40-foot ceiling.

“I thought that it would be a really exciting opportunity to take this brand-new theater and create a full professional season and bring new cultural arts to the Phoenix area that had never been here before,” Levin said.

The Arizona State University alumni brings to the Madison a long list of performing arts and entertainment accolades.

Levin is one of only a handful of Americans to play the title role of “Hamlet,” as well as produce and direct national tours with members of the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company in England. 

He was also the executive producer and director of the “Superstars of the Kirov Ballet” for their only U.S. performance. Levin directed “Star Trek: The Experience,” had his own show on the Las Vegas strip called “Xtreme Magic,” and produced and directed the grand opening of 2007 NBA All-Star Game with Kobe Bryant.

He has produced and directed for Paramount Studios, CNN and the BBC, as well as for the Lifetime Achievement Awards for Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Goldie Hawn and Jodi Foster and over 30 episodes of Oprah’s “Where Are They Now.”

He also belongs to the Broadway Directors and Choreographers Union and spent the last twenty years as the writer, executive producer and director of ShoWest and CinemaCon.

The new venue initially opened in 2018 but only hosted youth performances for a year before shutting down altogether because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

After joining the Madison in April 2020, Levin says he just directed virtual performances until The Madison was able to open with partial occupancy.

In May, The Madison had full concerts at 50 percent occupancy, which sold out, and now they are opening with 100 percent occupancy with masks.

Levin says that most of the shows he is bringing to The Madison have never been in Phoenix before, or in Arizona at all for that matter.

The season opens with “Animaniacs in Concert” Aug. 28, which stars original cast members Rob Paulsen (Yakko and Pinky from “Pinky & The Brain”), accompanied by Emmy winning composer Randy Rogel.

Next is Jimmy Buffett’s musical comedy “Escape to Margaritaville” Sept. 16-19, with a book by Emmy Award winner Greg Garcia (“My Name is Earl,” “Raising Hope”) and Emmy Award nominee Mike O’Malley (“Survivor’s Remorse,” “Shameless”).

“Harry Potter” fans will be especially excited about “Potted Potter” Oct. 28-30, which is an unauthorized Harry experience. 

This parody by two-time Olivier Award-nominated actors Daniel Clarkson and Jefferson Turner condenses all seven “Harry Potter” books (and a real-life game of Quidditch) into 70 minutes.

The renowned American Ballet Theatre performs Nov. 14.

Levin’s Broadway season closes with “Santa’s Circus” Dec. 2-5. After watching this Christmas-themed show, you can get your picture taken with Santa or write him a letter.

“I’m excited for the opportunity to bring new arts and culture that have never been here before,” Levin said.

To see all upcoming events at The Madison or to purchase tickets, go to themadison.org/events.