The panelists share a laugh during the first Encores! Unscripted webcast. Photo by Matthew Septimus, courtesy of The Greene Space.
On December 14, 2015, Tony Award winners Sheldon Harnick (Fiddler on the Roof), Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Jelly’s Last Jam), and Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home) joined Encores! Artistic Director Jack Viertel for a rollicking, incendiary conversation about the sexist and racist attitudes embedded in classic Broadway musicals. “By the end of the night, we will have solved the problem,” deadpanned Viertel.
That didn’t quite happen, but the event—which was live-streamed as part of City Center’s new Encores! Unscripted series—covered an astonishing amount of ground. Harnick spoke about the process of reexamining lyrics that he wrote in the 1950s (“I discovered that I was not as progressive and as liberal as I thought I was”) and Tesori talked about her motives for writing Violet (“I wanted to rewrite some women who were objects and not always subjects…I wanted to add to the repertoire”).
Santiago-Hudson offered a damning deconstruction of institutionalized racism in the theater and explained why he agreed to direct Cabin in the Sky for Encores! “What I’ve always felt is, if an opportunity is given to me to represent my people and make them whole again, that I would do the greatest job that I possibly could do,” he said.
We’re thrilled to announce that J. Bernard Calloway, Chuck Cooper, Marva Hicks, Carly Hughes, LaChanze, Norm Lewis, Forrest McClendon, and J.D. Webster will star in the Encores! production of Vernon Duke and John Latouche’s jazz-filled fable Cabin in the Sky, which will play seven performances at City Center from February 10-14. The 1940 musical will be directed by Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson with choreography by Bessie Award winner Camille A. Brown.