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Four of Elizabeth Swados’ former students performing her work. Photo by Luiz Ribeiro.

“I can turn all kinds of things into songs,” the late Elizabeth Swados once said. She wasn’t kidding. On July 6, 2016, a concert of her deep cuts made the case for Swados as an artist of boundless range, willing to tackle everything from Old Testament romance to the desensitization of soldiers in Vietnam. “I’d never seen a woman make work like that before,” said Encores! Off-Center Artistic Director Jeanine Tesori at the concert, which was held in City Center’s Grand Tier lobby before the first performance of Runaways. “She was an amazing force, and I don’t think that enough people know about her.”

But the Cult of Swados keeps growing. At the concert, Tesori was joined by five charter members—Thomas Hennes, Matthew Marsh, Preston Martin, Shaina Taub, and Hannah Whitman. All of them were taught by Swados at NYU Tisch. And all are animated by the sense of living in a post-Swados world—in Martin’s words, “a world in which a bunch of babies like us were saved by a shaman that couldn’t get her hands on everyone, so now we gotta get out there and lay hands on the rest of humanity in her honor.” So they came to City Center—to sing, to crack Debbie Allen jokes, and to reveal which Swados song has become a NYU-wedding staple.

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July 11, 2016 by New York City Center

Elizabeth Swados in 1978 (left) and Randy Ruiz and Diane Lane in the original Off-Broadway production of Runaways (right). Photofest; Martha Swope/©Billy Rose Theatre Division, NYPL for the Performing Arts

For a few months in the late spring of 1978, the Public Theater had three shows on Broadway that together served as a measure of how much Joseph Papp’s brash, fertile institution had changed the game. One, Michael Bennett’s cash cow A Chorus Line, was in the third year of an historic 15-year run at the Shubert; another, Ntozake Shange’s choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf, was rounding out a nearly two-year run at the Booth.

The third was Runaways, Elizabeth Swados’ raw, rangy musical patchwork, which opened at the Plymouth in mid-May for a tumultuous seven-month run. It may have been the shortest-lived of the three Public exports, but this odd, affecting, hand-crafted work not only garnered a cult following among alt-musical lovers; when Swados died in January, artists as varied as Lin-Manuel Miranda, Josh Charles, and Jackie Hoffman took to Twitter to sing the show’s praises.

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July 5, 2016 by New York City Center

Meet the Runaways blog header

One boy came to auditions wearing gold nail polish and sang Amy Winehouse’s “Back to Black.” A girl sang “Amazing Grace” and explained that she couldn’t come to callbacks on Sunday because she had church. Some were tap dancers and some were football players; some have starred in Broadway shows and some have never performed professionally before. “I wanted to assemble a wolfpack of 25 people who I adored, who were utterly different and utterly real,” says director Sam Pinkleton of the casting process for Runaways.
 
Well, he got his wolfpack. When Encores! Off-Center revives Elizabeth Swados’ landmark musical in July, the City Center stage will explode with 25 performers who embody the ferocious kinetic energy of today’s New York—just as the original cast reflected the New York of 1978. The Off-Center cast includes ASL interpreters, tattoo artists, transgender youths, unicyclists, and Jimmy Page fans. All but two are between 12 and 19 years of age. And a lot of them are obsessed with Hamilton. But we thought we’d let the cast speak for themselves.
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May 25, 2016 by New York City Center

PAINT YOUR WAGON Cast  Recording Announcement
Alexandra Socha and Justin Guarini in Paint Your Wagon, photographed by Joan Marcus.

“Whoop-ti-ay,” indeed! On Friday, Masterworks Broadway will release the Encores! cast recording of Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s rollicking Gold Rush musical Paint Your Wagon, and we’re happy to share two exclusive tracks from the album. Listen to Justin Guarini prove his Broadway bona fides once and for all with the soaring ballad “I Talk to the Trees,” and hear Alexandra Socha bring a scrappy sense of yearning to “How Can I Wait?”

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May 23, 2016 by New York City Center

City Center’s upcoming season will begin this fall with the thirteenth annual Fall for Dance Festival, the New York premiere of Ricky Ian Gordon’s opera 27, a “remix” of collaborative works from the Vail International Dance Festival, and an evening of US premieres with international ballet star Natalia Osipova. Alvin Ailey will return for its annual winter season, City Center’s Tony-honored Encores! series will revive three classic Broadway musicals, and Manhattan Theatre Club will present Vietgone and Sell/Buy/Date in their longtime Off-Broadway home. And that’s not even including behind-the-scenes programs like Studio 5 at City Center, Encores! Unscripted, and a new series of master classes—all of which are designed to bring the backstage center stage. We hope you’ll join us!

Fall for Dance
Grupo Corpo, photographed by Jose Luiz Pederneiras.

2016 Fall for Dance Festival
Sep 26—Oct 8, 2016
Tickets: $15
On sale Sep 10 at 11am

The 13th edition of the annual Fall for Dance Festival will feature 20 acclaimed international dance companies and artists in five unique programs and two world premiere commissions. In keeping with the Festival’s commitment to making dance accessible to everyone, all tickets are $15. The two‐week Festival will include performances by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Bangarra, Compagnie Accrorap, Dada Masilo, Grupo Corpo, Hong Kong Ballet, Richard Alston Dance Company with Montclair State University Vocal Accord, Shantala Shivalingappa, and more. Full program details will be announced at a later date.

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May 13, 2016 by New York City Center
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