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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
Rodgers and Sondheim Work

Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim consult during rehearsals for Do I Hear a Waltz? (Friedman-Abeles/©Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts)

This May, the ravishingly romantic 1965 musical Do I Hear a Waltz? will return to the New York stage for the first time in decades. Below, Encores! Music Director Rob Berman explains why the show is ripe for rediscovery.

The great collaboration of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein concluded with The Sound of Music in 1959 and the death of Hammerstein in 1960. Rodgers’ next effort was writing music and lyrics for No Strings, which opened in 1962 (and was presented by Encores! in 2003). In 1965, he collaborated with the young lyricist Stephen Sondheim (to whom Hammerstein had been a mentor) on Do I Hear A Waltz?, based on the 1952 Arthur Laurents play The Time of the Cuckoo. By this time, Sondheim had already contributed the lyrics for West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959), and had written both music and lyrics for A Funny Thing Happened On The Way to the Forum (1962) and Anyone Can Whistle (1964).

Anyone Can Whistle (presented by Encores! in 2010) was also written (and directed) by Laurents and although it was not a success, it was an experimental, modern, boundary-pushing work with a musically complex score. One can imagine how these two artists might have been attracted to musicalizing the adult, sophisticated story of Do I Hear a Waltz?: the study of a repressed, neurotic, and romantically unfulfilled American, Leona Samish, who travels to Venice and has an affair with an older married Italian man. (Laurents’ original play was also adapted into a film, Summertime, starring Katharine Hepburn).

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April 1, 2016 by New York City Center
Daniels and Miranda Photos

This spring, Encores! is reviving 1776, Sherman Edwards and Peter Stone’s irresistible Tony Award-winning musical about how the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and gave birth to a new nation. To celebrate its return to New York, we brought together two extraordinary men of the theater—both of whom have logged a lot of hours in Revolutionary-era frock coats. William Daniels played John Adams in the original Broadway production of 1776, and Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote and stars in the Broadway juggernaut Hamilton. In a recent phone call, Daniels and Miranda traded thoughts on why 1776 works so brilliantly, how the musical helped shape Hamilton, and what it’s like to perform for a sitting U.S. President.

LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA: Mr. Daniels, I’m talking to you from the lip of the stage of the 46th Street Theatre—

WILLIAM DANIELS: (laughs) Oh, my god.

LM: —where you did 1776, and where we’re doing Hamilton. It’s now the Richard Rodgers. My first question is: which dressing room was yours? Were you stage right?

WD: I think I was. Stage right, with a little door facing the audience.

LM: You either have our stage manager’s office or you have George Washington’s current dressing room.

WD: (laughs) How are you holding up, doing eight a week?

LM: It’s a lot. But, you know…it’s all my fault. I really have no right to complain. I wrote the words that I say, and I gave myself a lot of them.

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March 16, 2016 by New York City Center
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