Encores! Productions of Once Upon a Mattress, Jelly’s Last Jam, and Titanic Will All Have 2-Week Runs | Playbill

Encores! News Encores! Productions of Once Upon a Mattress, Jelly’s Last Jam, and Titanic Will All Have 2-Week Runs

City Center's 80th season also includes Savion Glover and Tony Goldwyn's reimagining of Rodgers and Hart's Pal Joey.

Once Upon a Mattress, Jelly’s Last Jam, and Titanic

For the first time in the history of the City Center Encores! series, all three 2024 productions will play two-week engagements at the famed Manhattan venue.

The 30th anniversary Encores! season will include the previously announced Once Upon a Mattress, now running January 24-February 4, 2024; Jelly’s Last Jam, playing February 21-March 3; and Titanic, which will be presented June 12-23. All three productions will offer student matinees, community nights, and ASL-interpreted performances.

President and CEO Michael S. Rosenberg says, “For this season of milestone anniversaries, these special two-week runs celebrating 30 years of Encores! provide added opportunities to welcome even more New Yorkers to experience City Center’s world-class performances and to join in the celebration.”

Encores! Artistic Director Lear deBessonet adds, “It’s been 30 years since Encores! first began its mission of reviving American musicals, and this year we’re celebrating the dedicated audiences and newcomers who’ve helped build this community with us and welcoming the next generation of musical theatre audiences thanks to our first-ever Encores! student matinees.”

The Encores! season will open with Once Upon a Mattress starring two-time Tony winner Sutton Foster as Princess Winnifred. Encores! Artist Director deBessonet will direct the musical, which features music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, and a book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Barer. The upcoming staging will feature a new concert adaptation by Amy Sherman-Palladino. The musical, which premiered Off-Broadway in 1959, launched the career of Carol Burnett, who starred in the work's Off-Broadway and Broadway bows along with a string of live TV performances. The musical has since become a favorite at high schools and theatre groups around the world, and was last seen in NYC in a 2015 Off-Broadway revival via Transport Group starring Jackie Hoffman. The Encores! revival will feature casting by The Telsey Office.

The seldom-produced 1992 Broadway musical Jelly's Last Jam follows, with Robert O'Hara directing. The biomusical celebrating the life and music of Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe (a.k.a. Jelly Roll Morton) features a book by George C. Wolfe, music by Morton, and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, plus musical adaptation and additional music by Luther Henderson. The Encores! staging is one of two major new productions for the work, with another revival set for California's Pasadena Playhouse beginning in May 2024.

The Encores! season closes with Maury Yeston and Peter Stone's Titanic, with Anne Kauffman at the helm. The musical follows the infamous 1912 sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic and the lives of those on board. The musical won five 1997 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The Encores! run will be the work's first major NYC staging since the original production and a 2014 Lincoln Center concert reuniting much of the original cast.

All the Encores! productions will feature the Encores! Orchestra, led by music director Mary-Mitchell Campbell.

City Center's 2023 gala musical will be Rodgers and Hart's Pal Joey, newly reconceived by co-director and choreographer Savion Glover and director Tony Goldwyn. The project has been in the works since at least 2021, when it was announced that Glover and Goldwyn were working with book writer Richard LaGravenese on a new Broadway-bound revival. Daniel "Koa" Beaty has joined LaGravanese, revising John O'Hara's original book, adapted from his novel. As reported in 2021, the new version of the 1940 musical interpolates Rodgers and Hart songs from other works, including “Where or When,” “The Lady Is a Tramp,” “It Never Entered My Mind,” “My Heart Stood Still,” “Falling in Love With Love,” and “There’s a Small Hotel.”

A starry cast has been assembled for the production, with Ephraim Sykes set to star as Joey Evans, now a Black jazz singer struggling to make it on the Chicago nightclub circuit in the face of Depression-era racism. Dreamgirls' Loretta Devine will co-star as nightclub owner Lucille Wallace, with Aisha Jackson as radio singer Linda English, Elizabeth Stanley as white socialite Vera Simpson, and Brooks Ashmanskas in an unspecified role. Casting is by Tara Rubin Casting.

For full details on City Center's upcoming season, which also includes a number of dance performances, visit NYCityCenter.org.

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