Several projects are in development for City Center Encores!' planned 2020–2021 season, all to be explored in a new digital series Encores! Inside the Revival. The five‐part mini-documentary series, launching Lear deBessonet’s first season as Encores! artistic director, will depict the behind‐the‐scenes process for the productions being developed—and ultimately produced at City Center upon reopening.
On the horizon for the new season are Cy Coleman, Ira Gasman, and David Newman's The Life, adapted and directed by Tony winner Billy Porter; and Henry Krieger, Robert Lorick, and Charles Blackwell's The Tap Dance Kid, directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon, choreographed by Jared Grimes, and adapted by Lydia Diamond, based on Louis Fitzhugh's novel Nobody’s Family Is Going to Change.
A third title, to be announced, will reflect Mayor La Guardia’s founding mission of New York City Center. While Encores! usually revives lesser-known musicals, the series will usher in a new tradition, allowing a classic title to celebrate the way musical theatre can unite audiences.
The Encores! Inside the Revival digital series will also include episodes on Love Life and Thoroughly Modern Millie, which were canceled earlier this year due to the pandemic.
It was also announced that Tony winner Clint Ramos (Eclipsed) will join the Encores! artistic team in the newly created role of producing creative director. Ramos will partner with deBessonet, longtime Encores! Music Director Rob Berman, and Tony‐winning producer Jenny Gersten, who joins the team as producer of musical theatre for New York City Center. In this new role, Ramos will serve as a core leader in partnership with deBessonet, working to envision and plan for the future of Encores!.
In a statement, Ramos said, “Having been in residency for seven summers, I have a deep abiding love for Encores! and New York City Center. I am extremely excited to join this team and begin work on further enriching the mission of celebrating the American musical in all its diverse traditions. I want to honor that mission through expanding equitable presence in our programming and through building transformative theatrical practices. As we continue the Encores! legacy of excellence and exploration, I look forward to further innovating not only our work, but our partnerships with our artists, our audiences, and with the city that we serve.”
Encores! is also welcoming Tony‐nominated choreographer Camille A. Brown, Obie‐winning playwright and performer Eisa Davis, and Obie‐winning director and playwright Robert O'Hara as creative advisors to the series. These artists will lend guidance on artistic work and advise in developing creative systems that uphold the commitment to anti‐racism at Encores! and City Center.
“Last fall, when I began to program my first Encores! season, I never could have imagined the world in which we find ourselves today. As we look ahead, it is essential that we preserve the Encores! mission and weave an ever‐deepening portrait of the history of American musicals. But that alone won’t be enough to meet our world, our city, and musical theatre as it evolves today,” says Artistic Director deBessonet. “I believe the future of a thriving Encores! has three prongs: revivals of hidden gems, productions where artists reclaim work for our time through their own personal lens, and celebrations that look at the ways musical theatre can connect us, in this city and across the country. These upcoming projects hold seeds of all three tenets.”
The Encores! Inside the Revival digital series, launching October 14, is produced in partnership with filmmaker Juan L. Espinal. Each episode will examine a specific aspect of the artist’s approach to bringing the Encores! production back to life and provide historical context for the original Broadway productions. Episodes will be streamed for free on City Center’s YouTube page and at NYCityCenter.org.