Kennedy Center Season to Feature Pal Joey, Cate Blanchett, Sondheim Celebration Concert and More

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced its 2011- 2012 theatre season March 8.

Cate Blanchett in Uncle Vanya.
Cate Blanchett in Uncle Vanya. (Photo by Sydney Theatre Company)

The season will feature a Kennedy Center-produced revival of Rodgers and Hart's Pal Joey, directed by Christopher Ashley and featuring a revised book by Terrence McNally; Sydney Theatre Company's exclusive American premiere engagement of Uncle Vanya, adapted by Andrew Upton, directed by Tamás Ascher and starring Cate Blanchett and Hugo Weaving; the Mabou Mines production of Dollhouse, adapted by Lee Breuer and Maude Mitchell from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House; the fifth season of Barbara Cook’s Spotlight series, featuring Broadway performers in an intimate cabaret setting; an all-star Stephen Sondheim concert celebration; and touring musical productions of Memphis, Les Misérables, Billy Elliot the Musical, La Cage aux Folles, Come Fly With Me and The Addams Family.

The season will kick off Aug. 4 in the Eisenhower Theater with the Sydney Theatre Company's production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya, adapted by Andrew Upton and directed by Tamás Ascher. "On a dilapidated, remote farm," press notes state, "Vanya (Richard Roxburgh) and his niece Sonya (Hayley McElhinney) have worked slavishly for years to sustain an estate in decline. Now the Professor (John Bell) and his wife Yelena (Cate Blanchett) have returned to visit, bringing with them chaos and disruption. Constant visits from the charismatic Astrov (Hugo Weaving) are not helpful. It is in this climate of frustration, thwarted hopes, and disarray that three consuming love affairs grow."

Montreal-based theatre company Lemieux Pilon 4D Art will present Norman, which is described as "a singular integration of film into the realm of the performing arts by challenging the limits of both disciplines," beginning Oct. 6 in the Eisenhower.

Conceived and directed by Lee Breuer and adapted by  Breuer and Maude Mitchell from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, the Mabou Mines production of Dollhouse, which begins Oct. 20 in the Eisenhower, takes the classic Ibsen story to a metaphorical level. "Ibsen’s feminism is metaphorically rendered as a parable of scale," according to the Kennedy Center. "Nora comes home with a Christmas present, a dollhouse so large that the children can play inside. All the period furniture, the crockery, the knick-knacks are the right size for the three-foot tall children. In this production, the men, Torvald, Rank, and Krogstad, are the same height as the children. The dollhouse symbolizes a man’s world where only doll-like women, who allow their men to feel grand, can hope to live in it. It also symbolizes the world of patriarchy; the world in which a woman never fits. Both Torvald and Nora are trapped in a meta-narrative, playing out an illusion of male power. Both pay the price: the death of love."

Emmy Award winner Holland Taylor will star in ANN: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards Dec. 17, 2011-Jan. 15, 2012, in the Eisenhower Theater. Gypsies, written by Jenö J. Tersánszky and Krisztián Grecsó, will be seen in the Eisenhower in March 2012. The production "combines original text from 1931 with a contemporary version of the story to chronicle the love, tensions, and conflicts that arise among Gypsies and Hungarians coexisting in the Hungarian countryside."

A revised version of the classic Rodgers and Hart musical Pal Joey, featuring an updated book by Terrence McNally, will play the Eisenhower June 2-July 1, 2012. Directed by Christopher Ashley, this new Kennedy Center production follows "the overly self-confident Joey Evans, who lands himself in trouble with work and women as he chases after the dream of owning his own nightclub."

The season will also include The Sondheim Celebration 10th Anniversary Concert June 25 in the Concert Hall. Directed by Sondheim Celebration artistic director Eric Schaeffer with music direction by James Moore, the free 6 PM concert will feature Anastasia Barzee, Sarah Uriarte Berry, Matt Bogart, Blair Brown, Michael Cerveris, Natascia Diaz, Melissa Errico, Raúl Esparza, Thursday Farrar, Philip Goodwin, Randy Graff, Judy Kuhn, Rebecca Luker, Hugh Panaro, Alice Ripley, Douglas Sills and Emily Skinner.

Those scheduled for Barbara Cook's concert series include Aaron Lazar, Euan Morton, Emily Skinner and Cook herself.

The Kennedy Center season schedule follows:

August 4 – 27, 2011 Eisenhower Theater Uncle Vanya
September 27 – October 30, 2011 Opera House Les Misérables – The New 25th Anniversary Production
October 6 – 8, 2011 Eisenhower Theater Lemieux Pilon 4D Art’s Norman
October 8, 2011 Terrace Theater Barbara Cook’s Spotlight: Aaron Lazar
October 20 – 22, 2011 Eisenhower Theater Mabou Mines’ Dollhouse
October 28, 2011 Terrace Theater Barbara Cook’s Spotlight: Euan Morton
December 2, 2011 Terrace Theater Barbara Cook’s Spotlight: Alexandra Silber
December 14, 2011 – January 15, 2012 Opera House Billy Elliot the Musical
December 17, 2011 – January 15, 2012 Eisenhower Theater ANN: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards
January 17 – February 12, 2012 Opera House La Cage aux Folles
March 2012 Eisenhower Theater Gypsies
April 13, 2012 Terrace Theater Barbara Cook’s Spotlight: Emily Skinner
April 18 – April 29, 2011 Eisenhower Theater Come Fly Away
June 2 – July 1, 2012 Eisenhower Theater Pal Joey
June 15 – 16, 2012 Terrace Theater Barbara Cook’s Spotlight: Barbara Cook
June 25, 2012 Concert Hall The Sondheim Celebration 10th Anniversary Concert
June 12 – July 1, 2012 Opera House Memphis
July 10 – 29, 2012 Opera House The Addams Family

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