Blair Brown, Florence Lacey and Michael Hayden Join Sondheimfest in D.C.

News   Blair Brown, Florence Lacey and Michael Hayden Join Sondheimfest in D.C. Several more big names have been added to this summer's eagerly anticipated Stephen Sondheim Celebration at Washington's Kennedy Center. A spokesman for the famed complex confirmed that Blair Brown, Florence Lacey, Michael Hayden and John Dossett have all signed on to appear in the 15-week Sondheim season that commences May 10.

Several more big names have been added to this summer's eagerly anticipated Stephen Sondheim Celebration at Washington's Kennedy Center. A spokesman for the famed complex confirmed that Blair Brown, Florence Lacey, Michael Hayden and John Dossett have all signed on to appear in the 15-week Sondheim season that commences May 10.

Blair Brown, who received a Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her work in Michael Frayn's award-winning opus Copenhagen, will portray Desiree in the Stephen Sondheim-Hugh Wheeler musical A Little Night Music, which was originally produced and directed on Broadway by Harold Prince. Brown's Broadway credits also include James Joyce's The Dead, Cabaret, Arcadia, The Secret Rapture and The Threepenny Opera, and she is perhaps best known to television audiences for "The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd." At this point, the Kennedy Center Night Music will also feature Barbara Bryne as Madame Armfeldt, Natascia Diaz as Petra, Randy Graff as Charlotte and Danny Gurwin as Henrik.

Also joining the Night Music cast as Fredrik is John Dossett, who is currently performing a few performances a week in the Kevin Bacon vehicle An Almost Holy Picture at the Roundabout's American Airlines Theatre. Dossett's resume features roles on stage, film and television, and his Broadway credits include Ragtime, Prelude to a Kiss, Mastergate, Fifth of July and King of Schnorrers.

Florence Lacey — who has performed the title role of Evita more than any other actress — will play Yvonne, wife to painter and Seurat rival Jules in Sunday in the Park with George. Lacey, who was last on Broadway in the Jerry Herman revue, An Evening with Jerry Herman, has also starred on The Great White Way in Les Misérables, The Grand Tour and opposite Carol Channing in Hello, Dolly!. Currently, the Sunday cast comprises Melissa Errico as Dot, Raul Esparza as George and Donna Migliaccio as the Nurse.

Carousel's Michael Hayden, will portray Franklin Shepard — a role originated on Broadway by Jim Walton — in Merrily We Roll Along, which features such Sondheim classics as "Not a Day Goes By," "Good Thing Going," "Old Friends" and "Like It Was." Hayden received a Drama League and a Theatre World Award for his role of Billy Bigelow in Carousel, and his other Broadway credits include All My Sons and The Matchmaker. On television, Hayden has been seen on "Murder One," "As the World Turns" and "Another World." Raul Esparza, who will also star in the aforementioned Sunday in the Park with George, will play Charley Kringas in Merrily with Michael McGrath (Joe), Miriam Shor (Mary) and The Full Monty's Emily Skinner (Gussie). Other Sondheim titles in the series include Passion (with Judy Kuhn as Fosca and Rebecca Luker as Clara), Company (with Christy Baron as Susan, John Barrowman as Bobby, Matt Bogart as Paul, Keira Naughton as Sarah, Lynn Redgrave as Joanne, Alice Ripley as Amy and Emily Skinner as Jenny) and Sweeney Todd (with Brian Stokes Mitchell as Sweeney Todd and Christine Baranski as Mrs. Lovett).

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The Kennedy Center's summer Sondheim Celebration of six in repertory works by composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim sold more than $600,000 in tickets in its first day of single-ticket sales Feb. 11, a spokesperson confirmed.

Sondheim shows prompted $639,000 in sales, making it a single-day box office record at the Kennedy Center. Tiki Davies of the Kennedy Center told Playbill On-Line about $400,000 worth of tickets were sold in its second day, Feb. 12.

"We're delighted with the response," Davies said, adding that the sales were hot in-person, by phone and by web. The way tickets are selling for the May to-August fest, the nonprofit giant's festival will likely be completely sold out. About half the tickets are gone, Davies said. Subscribers, patrons and groups got first crack at seats to Sunday in the Park With George, Company, Merrily We Roll Along, Sweeney Todd, Passion and A Little Night Music, prior to Feb. 11. Total sales so far, three months before the May 10 start of the fest, exceed $3 million. Sweeney Todd, starring Brian Stokes Mitchell and Christine Baranski, is the biggest seller. It begins May 10.

The Associated Press reported that 25 percent of ticket sales so far were from theatregoers who live outside of Washington, DC, with 13 percent of sales from New York area audiences. Tickets were bought by people from 41 states and Australia, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and elsewhere.

"They're not just buying one [show]," Davies said. "They're buying two or more."

That's exactly the goal of the series, Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser previously said. He wanted the Sondheim Celebration to be a kind of living exhibition that people could drink in, to get a sense of the shape and variety of one artist's career.

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Eric Schaeffer serves as artistic director for the festival (he'll stage Passion and Sunday in the Park With George), Kay Cameron is musical director, Max Woodward is producer. Mark Brokaw directs A Little Night Music, Sean Mathias directs Company and Christopher Ashley directs Sweeney Todd and Merrily We Roll Along.

Single tickets range $20-$79. For information, call (202) 467 4600 or visit kennedy center.org/sondheim.

— By Andrew Gansand Kenneth Jones