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Performing Arts Blog

Enter City Center’s MENKEN MIXTAPE Challenge


Two years ago, New York City Center issued a challenge to cutting-edge producers, house/electronic musicians, spoken word artists, and music-makers of all styles: take any piece from Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park With George and remix it. Make it yours. Sample it. Adapt it. Run with it.

This July, Encores! Off-Center is reviving Alan Menken and Howard Ashman’s 1979 musical God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. In honor of the show, we issued the same challenge using Alan Menken’s songbook as source material. Take any song with music by Menken and flip it on its head.

Winners will present their pieces before the opening night of God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater at Encores! Off-Center for Alan Menken himself and will receive an honorarium of $200.

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April 29, 2016 by New York City Center

Michael Friedman Encores! Off-Center Artistic DirectorWe’re thrilled to announce that Obie Award-winning composer Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Pretty Filthy) will be the next Artistic Director of Encores! Off-Center, City Center’s popular summer musical theater series. Beginning with the 2017 season, Friedman will succeed founding Encores! Off-Center Artistic Director Jeanine Tesoriwho will maintain her relationship with City Center as an artistic advisor.

“We are delighted to welcome Michael to the City Center family,” said New York City Center President & CEO Arlene Shuler. “As an institution, it is important that City Center not only bring artists to our stage but to provide a platform for their vision as leaders in the artistic community. With the success of Encores! Off-Center, Jeanine has expanded the range of musicals we’re able to present at City Center, and I’m excited to see how Michael will bring his unique sensibility to the program.”

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April 19, 2016 by New York City Center
Kelli O-Hara

Photo by Erin Baiano; Wardrobe Styling by Mia Tucker Williams; Kelli O’Hara Makeup by Tanya Rae and Hair by Chad Harlow; Victoria Clark Makeup by Deborah Altizio and Hair by Richard Keogh. Kelli O’Hara wears a top by The Korner. Victoria Clark wears earrings by Isharya and bodysuit by Bebe.

Theater people often make friends, and some even find spouses and partners, while working on shows together. But for actors forging original roles, the bonding can be especially intense. That was certainly the case for Tony Award winners Victoria Clark and Kelli O’Hara. In 2005, they starred as mother and daughter in Adam Guettel and Craig Lucas’ seminal, quasi-operatic musical The Light in the Piazza, resulting in a mutual admiration society that has mostly stayed offstage.

Until now. Just weeks after a Piazza reunion concert at Lincoln Center, O’Hara and Clark are joining MasterVoices (formerly The Collegiate Chorale) for a rendition of Purcell’s early Baroque opera Dido and Aeneas at City Center from April 28–29. Ted Sperling conducts the piece, in which O’Hara plays the doomed mythical heroine with the famous lament (“When I am laid in earth”), while Clark plays a scheming sorceress intent on Dido’s doom. The two performers recently got together at City Center—where both are Board members—to talk about Dido and Aeneas, their craft, and their unique friendship.

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April 12, 2016 by New York City Center
John Guare Playwright

The playwright John Guare, photographed by Paul Kolnik.

In My Dream Encores! Show, artists talk about forgotten Broadway musicals that they’re yearning to see again. Playwright John Guare may be the poet laureate of yearning; so many of his characters are possessed by an absurdly specific nostalgia—whether it’s an old biddy longing for her dead lover’s toupee or a mobster lamenting how much better the Atlantic Ocean used to be. As far as nostalgia goes, Guare himself was an early bloomer. “I was 16 in 1954, and I missed the twenties so much,” he says. “All the time I thought, Oh, if only I had been born in the twenties, it would’ve been great.” But Guare’s dream Encores! show isn’t an actual 1920s musical. Written in 1953, Sandy Wilson’s The Boy Friend takes place in a fairyland 1920s where girls are always carrying hat boxes, every messenger boy is a millionaire in disguise, and the cure for heartbreak is to “keep on dancing.” The musical also marked the American stage debut of a 19-year-old Julie Andrews.

CITY CENTER: Why The Boy Friend?
JOHN GUARE: After you called and asked if I would pick a musical, I starting thinking, Well, what will I pick? I was walking down the street, and I ran into Edward Hibbert, the actor. His father was the original Lord Brockhurst, and he was conceived and born during the run of The Boy Friend. We always talk about it. I hadn’t seen him in a while, and it just came out of my mouth—I didn’t even say hello. I sang:

I don’t claim that I am psychic
But one look at you, and I kick
Away every scruple
I learned as a pupil
In school, my dear.

Edward and I stood in the middle of 12th Street, between Sixth and Seventh Avenue, and sang the score of The Boy Friend. We didn’t say anything else. And I thought, Oh, I know what I’ll talk about. It amazed me how a show that I hadn’t heard in years was still so accessible to me, and so alive to me. The power of that show…I just remember it had a purity and a clarity that outdid every other musical I ever saw.

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April 5, 2016 by New York City Center
Do I Hear a Waltz Cast

We’re delighted to announce that Claybourne Elder, Melissa Errico, Sarah Hunt, Zachary Infante, Cass Morgan, Richard Poe, Michael Rosen, Sarah Stiles, and Richard Troxell will star in Do I Hear a Waltz? from May 11-15. The Encores! production of Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim’s romantic 1965 musical will be directed by Evan Cabnet, with choreography by Chase Brock and music direction by Rob Berman.

Our insanely gifted Waltz cast includes Sondheim veteran Claybourne Elder (Road Show), recent Tony Award nominee Sarah Stiles (Hand to God), and opera star Richard Troxell (Rigoletto)—but we’re particularly thrilled that Melissa Errico is returning to City Center, exactly twenty years after her transcendent performance in the Encores! production of One Touch of Venus. As the Roman goddess of love, Errico received critical raves and became an “overnight sensation,” in the words of The New York Times. (By the third performance, she was getting entrance applause.) Errico remains the only actor to win a Lucille Lortel Award for an Encores! show.

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April 4, 2016 by New York City Center
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