When Jeanine Tesori took on the role of artistic director of the Encores! Off-Center program in 2013, she made a list of 50 Off-Broadway shows she wanted to revive. Of those 50, 25 were highlighted and now, as she prepares to leave her post, Tesori is proud to say she was able to get to a lot of them.
“I feel very complete. I feel very calm about it…I’m ready for something else,” says Tesori. The composer and writer is currently working on a new piece with David Lindsay-Abaire, with whom she created Shrek The Musical. “We’re a third in, and I’m really excited about it. I’ve been wanting to collaborate with him [again],” she says. The name of the new work will be revealed at a later date.
Tesori is also working on a new opera with Tazewell Thompson and is busy writing songs for upcoming films from Universal Studios. Handing over the reigns at Encores! Off-Center will allow her some much-needed time to work on these projects and more.
“I also need my summers back to write. I didn’t realize how important the summers were as a composer, not only just to write, but to clear your mind,” she says. For Tesori, her tenure at Encores! Off-Center has been hugely informative to her creative development.
“It’s been wonderful to study all of these works because you have to get really deeply inside them,” she says. “It’s been very instructive to my own work — to look at [it] as if it was someone else’s and think about producing it. It’s been very helpful, and it has made me much less selfish also.”
One of Tesori’s bucket-list shows was Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, which kicks off performances July 27 at New York City Center. The starry cast is directed by Michael Mayer and includes Santino Fontana, James Earl Jones, Skylar Astin, Rebecca Naomi Jones and Kate Wetherhead, among others.
Performances run at City Center through July 30; the limited engagement features orchestrations by Danny Troob, which will be heard for the first time. Take a sneak peek at rehearsals below:
Tickets can be purchased online at NYCityCenter.org, by calling CityTix at (212) 581-1212, or in person at the City Center Box Office. New York City Center is located at 131 West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.