The Dead, King Hedley and Brits Play Kennedy Center in 2000-2001

News   The Dead, King Hedley and Brits Play Kennedy Center in 2000-2001 James Joyce's The Dead will reawaken at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, Oct. 11-Nov. 5, after its current run ends at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

James Joyce's The Dead will reawaken at The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC, Oct. 11-Nov. 5, after its current run ends at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles.

The Kennedy Center announced its 2000-2001 theatre season, which will include a pre-Broadway engagement of August Wilson's King Hedley II, the London music movement show, Blast!, and three productions from acclaimed British theatre companies.

The rarefied Broadway musical based on James Joyce's aching short story, "The Dead," set at an Irish Christmas party 100 years ago, began previews at the Ahmanson July 11, and will move to the Kennedy Center. Presumably, the cast will be intact.

The Dead began Off-Broadway in fall 1999 at Playwrights Horizons with Christopher Walken, and moved to Broadway's Belasco for an embraced but short run in 2001.

The project, by composer-lyricist Shaun Davey and librettist director Richard Nelson was viewed as a quiet, honest antidote to brassier Broadway fare. Nelson won a Tony Award for Best Book of a Musical. It will play the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theatre. August Wilson's latest play, King Hedley II, set in Pittsburgh in the 1980s, will play the Eisenhower Feb. 23 March 25, 2001, following an expected run at the Mark Taper Forum.

A recent casting notice for the play advertised the Sept. 2-Oct. 22 L.A. production as "pre-Broadway," listing as producers Benjamin Mordecai, Scott Rudin and Jujamcyn Theatres.

As has been the tradition with other Wilson plays which have eventually seen the lights of Broadway, King Hedley II has been bopping around the country for some time now. It premiered in late 1999 at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, then traveled to Seattle Repertory Theatre and Boston's Huntington Theatre, where it recently closed.

Director Marion Isaac McClinton, who piloted Wilson's Jitney Off Broadway earlier this year, staged King Hedley II and is expected to repeat his duties in Los Angeles and DC.

King Hedley II is set in 1985, and extends Wilson's cycle of plays chronicling the African-American experience through each decade of the 20th century. A sequel of sorts of Seven Guitars, the play takes place in 1985 in the Hill District neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the setting for most of Pittsburgh-native Wilson's plays, and tells the story of King and his friend, Mister, who try to make ends meet by selling refrigerators. King lives with his wife, Tonya, and his mother Ruby (a holdover character from Seven Guitars). Secrets and shared legacies are unearthed when Elmore, a suave gambler from Ruby's past, comes to visit.

No cast has been set for the Taper and Kennedy Center mounting.

Also at the Kennedy Center:

Blast!, Dec. 19-Jan. 14, 2001 at the Opera House, a 68 performer spectacle (a hit in London) with musicians in "top physical form" so they can march, strut, cartwheel and sweat through everything from Ravel's "Bolero" to Bernstein's "Officer Krupke."

Beauty and the Beast, April 25-May 13, 2001 at the Opera House, a return of the Disney musical by Alan Menken, Howard Ashman and Tim Rice.

A Servant to Two Masters, April 3-29, 2001, at the Eisenhower, the 18th-century Goldoni comedy (also known as Servant of Two Masters) presented by the Young Vic and Royal Shakespeare Company. Part of the Kennedy Center British Festival.

The Mill on the Floss, May 15-June 10, 2001, at the Eisenhower, an adaptation of George Eliot's tale of "doomed longing," presented by Shared Experience Theatre Co. of Great Britain. Part of the Kennedy Center British Festival.

Lulu, June 12-July 8, 2001 at the Eisenhower, Frank Wedekind's expressionistic play (originally called Erdgeist and variously adapted and/or paired with another play in versions including the opera, Lulu) about a "soulless siren" and her free-loving journey through Victorian times, presented by Almeida Theatre. Part of the Kennedy Center British Festival.

• A musical to be announced.

Tickets for Kennedy Center performances usually go on sale about two months before the engagement begins. For more information about ticket sales, call (202) 467-4600 or (800) 444-1324.