Encores! Season to Feature O’Donnell, Ebersole and Leavel

News   Encores! Season to Feature O’Donnell, Ebersole and Leavel Emmy Award winner Rosie O'Donnell and Tony Award winners Christine Ebersole and Beth Leavel will be part of the 15th season of the City Center Encores! series.
Rosie O'Donnell
Rosie O'Donnell

The New York Times reports that the upcoming season of American musicals in concert will include Applause, Juno and No, No, Nanette. Rob Berman will succeed Paul Gemignani as music director of the 2007-2008 Encores! series; Berman will be the music director for Applause, while Eric Stern will music direct Juno and Rob Fisher will music direct Nanette.

Applause will kick off the season running Feb. 7-10, 2008. Christine Ebersole, who will end her Tony-winning run in Grey Gardens July 29, will star in the role of Margo Channing, which was created onstage by Lauren Bacall. Applause, which is a musical version of "All About Eve," features a score by Charles Strouse (music) and Lee Adams (lyrics) and a book by Betty Comden and Adolph Green. The original Broadway production played 4 previews and 896 regular performances at the Palace Theatre from March 1970-July 1972; Ron Field directed and choreographed.

Juno will follow, running March 27-30. The musical, based on Sean O'Casey's Juno and the Paycock, features a score by Marc Blitzstein and a book by Joseph Stein. The production will mark the musical directing debut of Garry Hynes, who won a Tony Award for her direction of The Beauty Queen of Leenane; Warren Carlyle will provide musical staging. The original Broadway mounting, staged by José Ferrer and choreographed by Agnes De Mille, opened March 9, 1959 and closed 16 performances later on March 21.

The Encores! series will conclude with No, No, Nanette, which will be presented May 8-12, 2008. Rosie O'Donnell, the Broadway lover who spent a controversial year as a co-host of "The View," will head the cast as the wisecracking maid Pauline with Drowsy Chaperone Tony winner Beth Leavel as Lucille Early. Chicago Tony winner Walter Bobbie will helm the production of Nanette, which will utilize the 1971 version of the musical. That production featured a book adapted by Burt Shevelove with the original Vincent Youmans (music) and Irving Caesar and Otto Harbach (lyrics) score.

About casting O'Donnell, director Bobbie told the Times, "The idea of a curtain going down and seeing Rosie in a maid's uniform with a vacuum cleaner, well, I'm already in heaven. I think that's the way America wants to see Rosie." Although her role does not require singing, he told the paper, "I'm going to try [to find] someplace for her to sing something." The original Broadway production of No, No, Nanette, which featured a book by Otto Harbach and Frank Mandel, played the Globe Theatre Sept. 16, 1925-June 19, 1926. H. H. Frazee directed with musical staging by Sammy Lee. The musical revival played 13 previews and 861 regular performances at the 46th Street Theatre from January 1971 to February 1973. Burt Shevelove directed with choreography by Donald Saddler.

For her work in the dual roles of Edith Bouvier Beale and "Little" Edie Beale in the Off-Broadway and Broadway productions of Grey Gardens, Christine Ebersole was honored with the Tony Award, the Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award, an Obie, a special citation from the New York Drama Critics Circle and the Drama League's 2006 Distinguished Performance of the Year Award. She also received a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical for her work as Dorothy Brock in the hit revival of 42nd Street and a 2003 Tony nomination for her performance in Lincoln Center's production of Dinner at Eight. Ebersole's other Broadway credits include The Best Man, Getting Away with Murder, Harrigan 'n Hart, Camelot, Oklahoma!, On the Twentieth Century, I Love My Wife, Angel Street and the City Center Encores! productions of A Connecticut Yankee, Ziegfeld Follies of 1936, Lady in the Dark and Allegro. Ebersole was also seen Off-Broadway in Talking Heads.

Beth Leavel received Tony and Drama Desk awards for her performance in the title role of The Drowsy Chaperone. Her other Broadway credits include 42nd Street, Crazy for You, Show Boat and The Civil War. Leavel's Off-Broadway credits include Lone Star Love, The Jazz Singer and An Unfinished Song. She has also been seen in regional productions of Annie, A Little Night Music and Mame.

Rosie O'Donnell was most recently on Broadway in the revival of Fiddler on the Roof. The actress made her Broadway debut as Rizzo in the 1994 revival of Grease!, and she played a limited engagement as the Cat in the Hat in the Ahrens-Flaherty musical Seussical. The performer also spent some time on the other side of the footlights as producer of the Broadway version of Boy George's Taboo. O'Donnell rose to fame as a stand-up comic before landing roles in such films as "A League of Their Own," "Sleepless in Seattle," "The Flintsones" and "Exit to Eden." Her Emmy-winning talk show, "The Rosie O'Donnell Show," ran from 1996 to 2001, and her more recent TV credits include appearances on "Will & Grace" and "Queer as Folk" as well as the made-for-television movie "Riding the Bus with My Sister." O'Donnell is married to Kelli Carpenter O'Donnell; the couple have four children. O'Donnell's autobiography is titled "Find Me."

Subscriptions for the 2007-2008 City Center Encores! season are currently on sale by visiting www.nycitycenter.org. City Center is located in Manhattan at 130 West 56th Street.