The Kennedy Center in Washington DC recently announced that its 1998-99 season includes an early look at the Broadway bound, Footloose, a contemporary adaptation of Alfred Jarry's Ubu Roi, the latest Athol Fugard drama, a Titanic tour, and continuing performances of Shear Madness.
As previously reported, the Broadway-bound engagement of Robert Bolt's A Man for All Seasons, starring Derek Jacobi, will not open in April 1999. Due to a scheduling conflict with Jacobi, the production will be postponed until next season. Replacing it this year will be the Julie Harris-Charles Durning tour of The Gin Game.
Footloose dances in to open the season Aug. 29, on its way to a Broadway opening at the Richard Rodgers Theatre Oct. 22, after starting previews there Oct. 1. The stage version of the 1984 musical film is being produced by Dodger Endemol and Madison Square Garden.
Footloose, which played to overflowing audiences during three workshop performances in July 1997 at 890 Studios in New York, is being directed by Walter Bobbie, winner of a Best Director Tony Award for the 1996 revival of Chicago (and currently the toast of London for his direction of Chicago there).
The choreographer is theatre newcomer A.C. Ciulla, whose credits include several acclaimed music videos. Footloose has music by Tom Snow and lyrics by Dean Pitchford, with original music by Eric Carmen, Sammy Hagar, Kenny Loggins and Jim Steinman. The musical director and vocal arranger is Doug Katsaros. The stage adaptation is by Pitchford and Bobbie.
Jeremy Kushnier (the Toronto production of Rent) stars as Ren McCormack, the teen newcomer to a rural town where dancing is banned as sinful and dangerous. The story follows his acceptance into the local crowd, the winning of a girlfriend, and his battle with the local fundamentalist preacher, Reverend Shaw Moore, played by Martin Vidnovic (Baby, King David, Brigadoon).
Co-starring are two-time Tony nominee Dee Hoty (The Will Rogers Follies, The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public) as Vi Moore, the Reverend's wife; Jennifer Laura Thompson (national tour of Carousel) as Ariel Moore, the Reverend's rebellious daughter, with whom Ren falls in love; Catherine Cox (Baby) as Ethel McCormick; and Tom Plotkin (Forbidden Broadway Strikes Back) as Ren's friend, Willard Hewitt.
Also in the cast are Robin Baxter, Catherine Campbell, Rosalind Brown, John Deyle, Staci Francis, Billy Hartung, John Hillner, Adam LeFevre, Donna Lee Marshall, Nick Sullivan, and Kathy Deitch.
Ensemble players include Jim Ambler, Billy Angell, Susan Bigelow, Angela Brydon, Ben Cameron, Bryant Carroll, Paul Castree, Hunter Foster, Kristen Leigh Gorski, Jamie Gustis, Artie Harris, Sean Haythe, Elizabeth Paige Hinton, Lori Holmes, Katherine Leonard, Brad Madison, Jeanine Meyers, Mary K. Myars, Orfeh [sic], JoAnna Ross and Serena Soffer.
In addition to the title song, the stage version of Footloose includes "The Girl Gets Around," "Holding Out for a Hero," "Let's Hear It for the Boy," "Almost Paradise" and "Somebody's Eyes."
Playing a short engagement at the Center, will be the multi-media Ubu and the Truth Commission by the Handspring Puppet Company on Sept. 18. Handspring, based in South Africa, examines Alfred Jarry's classic satire, Ubu Roi, through the perspective of race relations in South Africa. Ubu plays four performances, Sept. 18, 19 & 20.
Following Ubu will be another South African piece, this one more autiobiographical than usual for Athol Fugard. Titled, The Captain's Tiger, the comedy/drama is due Sept. 23-Nov. 1. The play premiered in Pretoria, South Africa in August and will also be mounted regionally at NJ's McCarter Theatre and CA's La Jolla Playhouse this summer. (The latter is co-producing the Kennedy Center mounting.)
Fugard's story tells of a young writer haunted by a cherished photograph of his mother as a young woman. There's also a surprising amount of comedy, as he recounts what it was like to be a naive young writer on a steamship.
Fugard directs and stars in the play (as he did in Valley Song), Following the show's opening night in South Africa, Fugard jotted a note to McCarter's artistic director Mann, who was also in attendance: "...a thrilling launch last night. Individual response after the show leaves me in no doubt we have on our hands a play that works."
After Fugard's Tiger roars, Lillian Garrett-Groag's Magic Fire will burn. The comedy/drama, running Nov.-Dec., looks at an eccentric family stuck in Buenos Aires at the time of Eva Peron's death. Developed by the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, Magic Fire is a co-production with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
Capping the Kennedy Center season (July 1999) -- and hopefully not sinking it -- is the Broadway musical, Titanic. No specific dates have been announced, but the engagement will follow the similar engagements in Los Angeles and Boston.
Spokesperson Susanne Tighe told Playbill On-Line the touring company would be assembled separately from the Broadway company now at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, and would tour while the NY production continues.
Celebrating its eleventh anniversary, Sept. 25, will be Paul Portner's Shear Madness. This popular comedy whodunit enlists the help of audience members in solving the murder of a famous pianist who lives above the Shear Madness unisex hairstyling salon.
For tickets and subscriptions to Kennedy Center shows call (202) 416 8500.