Kennedy Center Season to Include Wilson, Cook, a King and a Lady

News   Kennedy Center Season to Include Wilson, Cook, a King and a Lady August Wilson's 20th Century, staged readings of the late playwright's ten-play cycle chronicling the African-American experience decade by decade, will highlight a theatre season at the Kennedy Center that also includes Disney's The Lion King, the West End production of My Fair Lady and Barbara Cook as singer and curator of a cabaret series.
Late playwright August Wilson
Late playwright August Wilson

The 2007-2008 season at the D.C. venue was announced March 6. Due to renovations, the Center's Eisenhower Theatre will be closed for the season.

Barbara Cook's Spotlight, a cabaret series curated by and featuring the Tony-winning actress, will kick off the season Oct. 19 with a solo performance by Cook. Other concerts in the Spotlight series at the Terrace Theater will include evenings with Judy Kuhn (Oct. 26), Lillias White (Nov. 16), Brent Barrett (Dec. 28) and Alice Ripley and Emily Skinner (April 11, 2008).

The touring company of Cameron Mackintosh's West End production of Lerner and Loewe's My Fair Lady will play the Opera House Dec. 27, 2007-Jan. 20, 2008. The classic musical — which features such songs as "I Could Have Danced All Night" and "On the Street Where You Live" — boasts direction by four-time Tony winner Trevor Nunn and choreography by two-time Tony winner Matthew Bourne.

Radio Golf's Kenny Leon will be the artistic director for August Wilson's 20th Century, which will present all ten of the late playwright's Pittsburgh Cycle, which highlights the African-American experience in the U.S. in the twentieth century. Presented in the Terrace Theatre, the staged readings of Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II and Radio Golf will run March 4-29, 2008.

Leon will direct the readings of Gem of the Ocean, Fences, The Piano Lesson and Radio Golf. Lou Bellamy, the artistic director of Minneapolis' Penumbra Theatre, will direct Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, while Tony winner Gordon Davidson will direct Jitney. Todd Kreidler, the associate artistic director of Atlanta's True Colors Theater Company, will helm Joe Turner's Come and Gone, and Derrick Sanders — artistic director of Chicago's Congo Square Theatre — will direct Seven Guitars, Two Trains Running and King Hedley II. The casts for the readings of the ten-play cycle will feature John Amos, Cherise Booth, Rocky Carroll, Anthony Chisholm, Rosalyn Coleman, Keith David, Viola Davis, Hassan El-Amin, Lynda Gravátt, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Billy Eugene Jones, Ron Cephas Jones, Eugene Lee, Anthony Mackie, Afemo Omilami, Phylicia Rashad, Roslyn Ruff, Keith Randolph Smith, Michole Briana White and James Williams. Additional artists will be announced at a later date.

Disney's The Lion King will make its Washington, DC, debut at the Kennedy Center's Opera House June 26, 2008. The Tony-winning musical, currently playing Broadway's Minskoff Theatre, features a score by Elton John and Tim Rice and Tony-winning costumes and direction by Julie Taymor.

Julie Marie Myatt's Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter — part of the Kennedy Center's Fund for New American Plays program, which annually co-produces a new work by an American playwright staged by an American theatre company — will play the Terrace Theater July 19-27, 2008. Presented by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the work features direction by Jessica Thebus and is described as such: "Back in the States from a tour of duty in Iraq, wounded Marine Sergeant Jenny Sutter finds herself adrift in the California desert, without the body and mind she once knew. The eccentric residents of a makeshift community give her the homecoming she needs before she can return to her family and life."

Paul Portner's Shear Madness, which was adapted by Bruce Jordan and Marilyn Abrams, will continue its lengthy run in the Theater Lab. The comedy, set in present-day Georgetown at the Shear Madness unisex hairstyling salon, will celebrate its 20th anniversary Aug. 12, 2008.

The 2007-2008 schedule follows:
Oct. 19, 2007 in the Terrace Theater: Barbara Cook's Spotlight: Barbara Cook
Oct. 26, 2007 in the Terrace Theater: Barbara Cook's Spotlight: Judy Kuhn
Nov. 16, 2007 in the Terrace Theater: Barbara Cook's Spotlight: Lillias White
Dec. 27, 2007-Jan. 20, 2008 in the Opera House: My Fair Lady
Dec. 28, 2007 in the Terrace Theater: Barbara Cook's Spotlight: Brent Barrett
March 4-29, 2008 in the Terrace Theater: August Wilson's 20th Century
April 11, 2008 in the Terrace Theater: Barbara Cook's Spotlight: Alice Ripley & Emily Skinner
Begins June 26, 2008 in the Opera House: The Lion King
July 19-27, 2008 in the Terrace Theater: Welcome Home, Jenny Sutter
Continuing in the Theater Lab: Shear Madness

For more information about the upcoming season, visit www.kennedy-center.org.

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The Kennedy Center's Performances for Young Audiences season — presented in the Family Theater — will include Nobody's Perfect (Oct. 19-Nov. 3, 2007), The Phantom Tollbooth (Nov. 16-Dec. 16, 2007), An American Home: The White House (March 7-16, 2008), Letters from Pakistan (April 4-12, 2008) and New Visions/New Voices 2008 Festival (April 25-27, 2008). Tours of Katie Couric's The Brand New Kid and Teddy Roosevelt and the Treasure of Ursa Major will also be making their way across the country.