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Ben West Painting

Benjamin West’s unfinished 1783-1784 painting of the delegations at the Treaty of Paris.

Rose Hovick really did love Chinese food, and Fanny Brice was actually fired from a chorusline after it was discovered that she couldn’t dance. Still, despite the crumbs of truth sprinkled into musicals like Gypsy and Funny Girl, we don’t exactly look to Broadway shows for historical accuracy. 1776 may be unique, then, in that its creators were such devoted sticklers for the truth; composer Sherman Edwards even brought textbooks to rehearsals and handed them out to the cast. When the show’s libretto was published in 1970, Edwards and his librettist Peter Stone wrote a fascinating essay about what is true, what’s almost true, and what was cheerfully invented in 1776. With an Encores! revival on the way, we’re pleased to reprint their essay.

The first question we are asked by those who have seen—or read—1776 is invariably: “Is it true? Did it really happen that way?”

The answer is: Yes.

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March 9, 2016 by New York City Center
1776 on Stage Casting

We’re delighted to announce the cast of the Encores! production of 1776, the classic musical about how the founding fathers drafted the Declaration of Independence and gave birth to a new nation. Tony Award nominee Santino Fontana (Frozen, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) will return to Encores! as the “obnoxious and disliked” Massachusetts delegate John Adams, with five-time Emmy Award winner John Larroquette making his Encores! debut as the spectacularly witty Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania.

Along with Fontana and Larroquette, 1776 will star Terence Archie (Dr. Josiah Bartlett), John Behlmann (Thomas Jefferson), Larry Bull (Col. Thomas McKean), Nikki Renée Daniels (Martha Jefferson), André De Shields (Stephen Hopkins), Macintyre Dixon (Andrew McNair), Alexander Gemignani (Edward Rutledge), John Hickok (Dr. Lyman Hall), John Hillner (Lewis Morris), Kevin Ligon (George Read), John-Michael Lyles (A Courier), Laird Mackintosh (Judge James Wilson), Michael McCormick (John Hancock), Michael Medeiros (Caesar Rodney), Christiane Noll (Abigail Adams), Bryce Pinkham (John Dickinson), Wayne Pretlow (Roger Sherman), Tom Alan Robbins (Rev. Jonathan Witherspoon), Robert Sella (Charles Thomson), Ric Stoneback (Samuel Chase), Jubilant Sykes (Richard Henry Lee), Vishal Vaidya (A Leather Apron), Nicholas Ward (Joseph Hewes), and Jacob Keith Watson (Robert Livingston).

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February 29, 2016 by New York City Center
J Tesori Post

After becoming last summer’s hottest ticket, City Center’s acclaimed Encores! Off-Center series returns this July with two groundbreaking 1970s musicals—Runaways, running July 6-9, and Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, running July 27-30—along with a one-night-only concert on July 16 that will feature Sutton Foster, Jonathan Groff, and more performers to be announced. Jeanine Tesori, the Tony Award-winning Artistic Director of Encores! Off-Center, talked with us about why these shows still matter.

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February 5, 2016 by New York City Center
New Brain Production Pics

The Encores! Off-Center production of A New Brain, photographed by Joan Marcus.

A New Brain was here, and now it’s gone—but the music still plays on. On Friday, PS Classics will release the Encores! Off-Center cast recording of William Finn’s unforgettable musical about heart, music, and frog-related hallucinations. We’re delighted to share three songs from the album, along with Finn’s commentary.

“I was thrilled with this production,” Finn says of the defibrillated New Brain that played City Center last June. “I don’t in any way want to disparage the original production—I actually loved it—but we did different things in this production that made it much more to my liking.” Particularly transformative was the casting of Jonathan Groff as struggling composer Gordon Schwinn. “He’s absolutely the sweetest, most generous actor I’ve ever met in my life,” says Finn. “He made the character so pleasant. And the character can be nasty—but when Jonathan says those lines, it doesn’t matter.”

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February 3, 2016 by New York City Center
Cabin in the Sky Movie

A poster for the bowdlerized 1943 film of Cabin.

Vernon Duke and John Latouche’s jazz-filled fable Cabin in the Sky is returning to New York for an Encores! run from February 10-14. Below, Encores! Artistic Director Jack Viertel explores the 1940 musical’s creation, as well as the painstaking work that has gone into restoring the show for Encores!

African-American musicals have never found an easy welcome on Broadway, though they’ve been a presence since the end of the 19th century. Clorindy, produced in 1898, is generally considered to be the first Broadway musical featuring an all-black cast and was followed in 1903 by In Dahomey, starring the first black superstar comedy team, Bert Williams and George Walker. In 1921, Shuffle Along became a reigning hit (a revised version dramatizing the events surrounding that show’s creation will open on Broadway this spring), and George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, in 1934, was the first and, to date, the only “golden age” black musical to become a permanent part of the repertoire.

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February 1, 2016 by New York City Center
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