Though Washington DC's John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts lost its founder, Roger L. Stevens, Feb. 2, the theatre hasn't lost its footing. The Kennedy Center's just-announced 1998-99 season includes a new Athol Fugard drama, a Titanic tour, an early look at Footloose, and a rare American stage appearance for Derek Jacobi.
Footloose dances in to open the season Aug. 29 (after previews begin Aug. 25), 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. Footloose tells of a teenage boy who moves to a small town where dancing has been outlawed -- the result of a tragic prom-night car accident some years earlier -- and goes head-to-head with the town minister in an effort to bring dancing back. The original film had an all star cast including Kevin Bacon, Lori Singer, Dianne Wiest, John Lithgow and Sarah Jessica Parker.
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."
Following Footloose will be Athol Fugard's latest drama, The Captain's Tiger, due in Sept.-Oct. 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 autobiographical 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 in it, 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.
Coming in April 1999, direct from London, will be a revival of 1962's Tony Award-winner, A Man For All Seasons, featuring Derek Jacobi, himself a Tony winner (Much Ado About Nothing). Other Jacobi stage roles include Breaking The Code and Cyrano de Bergerac.
In Seasons, Jacobi's Sir Thomas Moore offers a moral challenge to King Henry VIII -- one which the King can't rise to. Previously, Robert Bolt's play became a major stage and film vehicle for Paul Scofield.
Capping the Kennedy Center season (July 1999) -- and hopefully not sinking it -- is the Broadway musical, Titanic. With a book by Peter Stone and a score by Maury Yeston, the 1997 Tony-winning Best Musical Titanic will start its U.S. national tour with this engagement.
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.
For tickets and subscriptions to Kennedy Center shows call (202) 416-8500.