Encores! Off-Center Series Will Launch With Sutton Foster in Violet; Jeanine Tesori Named Artistic Director

By Adam Hetrick
04 Apr 2013

Sutton Foster
Sutton Foster
Photo by Laura Marie Duncan

New York City Center has announced that Tony Award-nominated composer Jeanine Tesori will serve as artistic director for Encores! Off-Center, a new concert-production series celebrating Off-Broadway musicals, which will launch this summer with Tesori's 1997 musical Violet, the Depression-era Marc Blitztein political musical The Cradle Will Rock and the 1970's folk-rock musical I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road.

City Center launched its acclaimed Broadway Encores! series in 1994, which celebrates Broadway treasures of yesteryear and has gone on to give new life to such works as Chicago, Finian's Rainbow, Wonderful Town, Gypsy and the upcoming Broadway transfer of Cotton Club Parade.

Akin to the Broadway series, the orchestra and cast will perform together on stage for Encores! Off-Center productions. Each show will receive a brief rehearsal period followed by five performances.

The series, which offers a majority of tickets at $25, will launch July 10-13 with The Cradle Will Rock, staged by Sam Gold (The Flick, Seminar) and choreographed by Chase Brock (Spider-Man). Following will be a one-night-only presentation of Tesori and Brian Crawley's Violet, starring Tony Award winner Sutton Foster and staged by Leigh Silverman (Well, Chinglish) on July 17. Tony Award winner Kathleen Marshall (Anything Goes, Wonderful Town) will stage the final work, Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford's I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road, which runs July 24-27.



"The goal of Encores! Off-Center is to connect the innovators of today to the shows that expanded creative boundaries in the past," Tesori said in a statement. "We want to find out what happens when contemporary artists meet this material. How will today's directors, musicians, actors and audiences relate to these stories?"

Here's a look at the productions:

The Cradle Will Rock, with book, music and lyrics by Blitztein, "is a Brechtian allegory of corruption and corporate greed that pits exploited workers against greedy, union-busting businessmen. The show was developed in 1937 with funds from the Federal Theater Project, a branch of the WPA." Chris Fenwick will musical direct.

Violet, based on the short story "The Ugliest Pilgrim" by Doris Betts, has music by Tesori and book and lyrics by Crawley. "Set in 1964 in the Deep South during the early days of the Civil Rights Movement, Violet follows the growth and enlightenment of a young woman accidentally scarred by her father. In hopes that a TV evangelist can cure her, she travels to Oklahoma. Along the way, she meets a young black soldier who teaches her about beauty, love, courage and what it means to be an outsider." Original Off-Broadway musical director Michael Rafter will musical direct.

I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road has book and lyrics by Cryer and music by Ford. It "revolves around a 39-year-old singer who is attempting a comeback as a pop star by performing personal songs that reflect women's changing roles and attitudes." Chris Fenwick will musical direct.

Tesori is the composer of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Shrek and Caroline, or Change. She also penned original music for Twelfth Night and Mother Courage and Her Children. She arranged music for the Broadway revues Dream and Swing!, as well as the 1998 revival of The Sound of Music. She also served as associate conductor for the Broadway productions of The Secret Garden and The Who's Tommy.

Tickets will go on sale April 15. They can be purchased at NYCityCenter.org, by phoning (212) 581-1212, or in person at the City Center Box Office at 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.