Encores!, which presents neglected or lesser-known American musicals in concert with minimal staging, full orchestra and script in hand, ended its 2008-09 season March 30 with a critically acclaimed Finian's Rainbow.
The season will continue with Fanny, with music and lyrics by Harold Rome and book by S. N. Behrman and Joshua Logan, starting Feb. 4, 2010. (Fanny will be the 50th Encores! production presented by City Center since 1994.)
Here's the season at a glance, according to Encores!: Girl Crazy, the Gershwins' 1930 musical "is the tale of a sophisticated New Yorker marooned in a dusty Western cowtown with no one who understands him but the Yiddish-speaking cabbie who brought him there and no one to love but the only woman within 50 miles." The show inspired the Tony Award-winning musical Crazy for You, and introduced the songs "I Got Rhythm," "Embraceable You," "But Not For Me" and "Boy! What Love Has Done To Me" and more. Ethel Merman and Ginger Rogers were its original stars. "The original production put a hot jazz band in the pit, led by cornet virtuoso Red Nichols, and included such jazz greats as Glenn Miller, Gene Krupa, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Jack Teagarden. The resulting sound is a unique treat for theatergoers today, as each musician left a lasting impact on the show's arrangements and orchestrations." The Encores! production will run Nov. 19-22.
Fanny (1954), based on Marcel Pagnol's trilogy "Marius," "Fanny" and "Cesar," is set in Marseille. The love story is "a tale of a young girl's passion for a young man so in love with the sea that he leaves her, little realizing that she is pregnant with his child. Her marriage of convenience to a wealthy older man desperate to have an heir is complicated by the sailor's return years later." Joshua Logan and S.N. Behrman penned the book, and Harold Rome wrote music and lyrics — flirting with operatic heights (including the title song). The original production starred Florence Henderson, Ezio Pinza and Walter Slezak (who won a Tony award for Best Actor in a Musical). Fanny will run Feb. 4-7, 2010.
Anyone Can Whistle, composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim and librettist Arthur Laurents' 1964 "experimental satire of any and every target on the American cultural scene of the moment — conformity, psychology, race relations, greed, religion, politics — divided the critics, thrilled the emerging counter-culture, baffled the masses and closed quickly, becoming an instant legend that has grown over the years as Sondheim's reputation has soared." The title song and "With So Little to Be Sure Of" are now cabaret favorites. Angela Lansbury and Lee Remick were its leading ladies. It ran 12 previews and nine performances. For Encores!, Anyone Can Whistle will run April 8-11, 2010.
Tickets for the 2009-2010 Encores! season are available at the New York City Center Box Office (W. 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues), through CityTix at (212) 581-1212, or online at www.nycitycenter.org.
Tickets for the Orchestra, Grand Tier and Mid-Mezzanine tickets are $95; tickets for the Rear Mezzanine and Front Gallery are $50; tickets for the Rear Gallery are $25.
New York City Center Encores! (Jack Viertel, artistic director; Rob Berman, music director) has, since 1994, "celebrated the rarely-heard works of America's most important composers and lyricists. Conceived as concert versions, each Encores! season gives three scores the chance to be heard as originally intended by their creators. Over the years, Encores! has presented the works of the Gershwins, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Kurt Weill, Bock and Harnick, Burt Bacharach, Kander and Ebb, Comden and Green, and many others. The program is the recipient of a special 2000 Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre, as well as an Outer Critics Circle Award, Lucille Lortel Award and Jujamcyn Theaters Award."