Jack Viertel, who has led New York City Center’s Encores! series since 2000, will step down as Artistic Director at the end of the 2020 season.
Viertel, who continues as senior vice president of Jujamcyn Theaters, has overseen the development and production of over 60 Encores! titles, ranging from concert presentations of beloved works (featuring script-carrying performers) to musical revues of showcasing rare gems (such as Hey Look Me Over!) to stagings that would eventually make it to Broadway (including Gypsy and The Apple Tree). Prior to being named artistic director, he served on the Encores! advisory committee since its founding in 1994.
His swan song lineup, as previously announced, will feature Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner’s Love Life, Mack & Mabel, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. The third marks the most contemporary title ever presented at Encores! (the musical premiered on Broadway in 2002) and is part of a new initiative in which young artists (in this case, playwright Lauren Yee) will collaborate with the shows’ original writers to put their personal stamp on beloved titles. Tony nominee Ashley Park will take on the title role.
The final production of Viertel's tenure is also an indication of his hopes of Encores! after his departure: “As musical theater itself evolves, so must we. It seems the most satisfying way to achieve that goal is to hand the baton to the next generation of creative artists and have them lead Encores! to its next chapter. I look forward to many more years in this great building, helping to celebrate its commitment to excellence in the performing arts and, especially for me, music theater of all kinds.”
In Viertel's honor, Producer Stacey Mindich, board co-chair for City Center, will establish the Jack Viertel Award for Outstanding Artistic Achievement, offering an annual $10,000 grant to an artist involved in a musical theatre production at the historic midtown venue.
No word yet on who will succeed him in the position.