Encores! Off-Center: Great musicals for $25

Jeanine Tesori (composer of "Caroline, Or Change") is the artistic director of Encores! Off-Center, a new series reviving Off-Broadway musicals.
Jeanine Tesori (“Caroline, Or Change”) is artistic director of Encores! Off-Center,

Encores! Off-Center, a new series from New York City Center, will begin this summer with the intent to do for old Off-Broadway musicals what its Encores! series has done for old Broadway shows.  Best of all, the “majority” of tickets will cost $25.

Under the artistic direction of Jeanine Tesori (composer of Caroline, or Change), Encores! Off-Center will feature such celebrated performers as Sutton Foster and both established and happening theater artists Kathleen Marshall, Sam Gold and Leigh Silverman.

Below is the schedule for the first summer, with descriptions of the shows provided by New York City Center:

The Cradle Will Rock
directed by Sam Gold, choreographed by Chase Brock
July 10 – 13


cradle-poster1The Cradle Will Rock, with music, lyrics and book by Marc Blitzstein, is a Brechtian allegory of corruption and corporate greed that pits exploited workers against greedy, union-busting businessmen. The show was developed in 1937 with funds from the Federal Theater Project, a branch of the WPA.

“The original production, directed by Orson Welles, was shut down four days before opening. Officially, it was shut down due to WPA budget cuts, but many cited the show’s pro-union themes as the government’s impetus for its closing.  The show finally opened Off-Broadway at the Venice Theatre in 1937 with private funding.  Financial and union issues precluded an orchestra, so Blitzstein himself played the piano at the first preview, with the actors singing from the audience. When the show moved to Broadway, union rules dictated a 10-person orchestra. But Blitzstein insisted on keeping the solo piano and paid nine musicians not to play each night. The story is that Blitzstein chose 10 of his neediest friends for the job. The show opened at the Windsor Theater on January 3, 1938 and ran 108 performances, directed by Howard Da Silva.

“Leonard Bernstein brought The Cradle Will Rock to City Center in 1947 with the original orchestrations, and for the first time, the play was performed with full score, chorus and actors. The cast included Shirley Booth, Howard DaSilva, and Jack Albertson. The show was revived in 1983 by The Acting Company, directed by John Houseman and starring Patti LuPone.”

Starring Sutton Foster

directed by Leigh Silverman

July 17 – one night only!

Violet_tesori_a“Violet, based on the short story “The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts, has music by Jeanine Tesori and book and lyrics by Brian Crawley.  Set in 1964 in the Deep South during the early days of the Civil Rights Movement, Violet follows the growth and enlightenment of a young woman accidentally scarred by her father.  In hopes that a TV evangelist can cure her, she travels to Oklahoma. Along the way, she meets a young black soldier who teaches her about beauty, love, courage and what it means to be an outsider. Violet opened Off-Broadway for a limited run at Playwrights Horizons on March 11, 1997.  It won the Obie Award, Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Musical, and Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical.”


I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road

directed and choreographed by Kathleen Marshall

July 24 – 27

Imgettingmyacttogether“I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road, with book and lyrics by Gretchen Cryer and music by Nancy Ford, opened on June 14, 1978, produced by Joseph Papp and the New York Shakespeare Festival.  It ran for 1,165 performances. The story revolves around a 39-year-old singer who is attempting a comeback as a pop star by performing personal songs that reflect women’s changing roles and attitudes.”

Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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