New Production of Ragtime Will Be Part of Kennedy Center's 2008-2009 Season

News   New Production of Ragtime Will Be Part of Kennedy Center's 2008-2009 Season
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced its 2008-2009 season, which will boast a new production of the Stephen Flaherty-Lynn Ahrens-Terrence McNally musical Ragtime.
Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens
Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens

The Kennedy Center season will kick off Sept. 24-26 in the Terrace Theater with Blanche and Beyond starring Richard Thomas. The production — adapted by Steve Lawson from the 1945-1957 correspondences of Tennessee Williams — is a sequel to A Distant Country Called Youth, which was seen at the Kennedy Center in 2004.

After its successful debut during the Kennedy Center's 2007-2008 season, Barbara Cook's Spotlight, a concert series curated by Tony Award-winning singer Cook, will return. Cook will shine her spotlight on Tony winner Betty Buckley (who will offer concerts Oct. 3-4 in the Terrace Theater), Rebecca Luker (Nov. 8), Tony winner Victoria Clark (Dec. 6), Liz Callaway (Jan. 9, 2009) and Jason Danieley and Marin Mazzie (Feb. 14, 2009).

The Eisenhower Theater will be the home of Druid/Synge, a celebration of the life of Irish writer John Millington Synge by the Druid Theatre Company. Directed by Tony winner Garry Hynes, the Oct. 22-25, 2008, staging will feature two Synge titles: The Playboy of the Western World and The Shadow of the Glen.

Several national tours will also be seen at the Kennedy Center: Stacy Keach in Frost/Nixon (Nov. 11-30 at the Eisenhower), Legally Blonde The Musical (Dec. 16, 2008-Jan. 11, 2009 at the Opera House), The Color Purple (July 1-Aug. 2, 2009 at the Opera House) and Spring Awakening (July 7-Aug. 2, 2009 at the Eisenhower Theatre).

The new production of Ragtime — directed by Marcia Milgrom Dodge — will play the Eisenhower Theater April 18-May 10, 2009. The musical, according to the Kennedy Center, "tells of the interconnection of a wealthy family, a poor immigrant and his daughter and a Harlem musician in turn-of-the-century New York City." The Tony-winning Flaherty-Ahrens score features such tunes as "Make Them Hear You" and "Wheels of a Dream." Ragtime is part of the Kennedy Center's "Broadway: The Third Generation," which celebrates the current generation of Broadway composers. The tribute will also include Broadway: Three Generations, starry concerts in the Eisenhower Theater that pay tribute to all generations of theatre composers. Those concerts — directed by Eric Schaeffer and choreographed by Warren Carlyle — will include George and Ira Gershwin's Girl Crazy (celebrating Broadway's first generation of composers and featuring Max von Essen as Danny Churchill and Tony winner Randy Graff as Kate Fothergill); Jerry Bock, Sheldon Harnick and Joseph Stein's Fiddler on the Roof (celebrating Broadway's second generation of composers with Mark Jacoby as Tevye and Tony winner Graff as Golde); and Henry Krieger and Bill Russell's Side Show (celebrating Broadway's third generation; no casting has been announced).

On Jan. 31, 2009, the Kennedy Center's Millennium Stage will celebrate its 12th anniversary with a free concert also paying homage to the third generation of Broadway composers. Hosted by Stephen Schwartz, the evening will feature the work of Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, Scott Frankel and Jeanine Tesori. Original stars from these composers' works — including Ragtime; Once On This Island; Grey Gardens; and Caroline, or Change — will perform with the composers featured at the piano. The first week of February 2009 will feature up-and-coming Broadway composers who will perform their works in the Millennium Stage's Grand Foyer.

The Kennedy Center will also team with Arlington's Signature Theatre to co-produce Michael John LaChiusa and Sybille Pearson's new musical Giant, which will play the Signature April 28-May 31, 2009. And, the Eisenhower Theater will be the home of the new family-friendly musical The Trumpet of the Swan, based on E.B. White's children's book of the same name. The musical — directed by Bob Balaban — features a score by Jason Robert Brown and a book by Marsha Norman and will play Dec. 4-6, 2008, as part of the Kennedy Center's Young Audiences Season.

The Young Audience Season will also include Mermaids, Monsters, and the World Painted Purple (Gregg Henry directs the Marco Ramirez work in the Family Theater, Oct. 11-26, 2008); the aforementioned The Trumpet of the Swan; a new as-yet untitled play co-commissioned and co-produced with the White House Historical Association (Jan. 31-Feb. 22, 2009 in the Family Theatre); and Dancing on the Sands of Time (choreographed by Debbie Allen in the Eisenhower Theater, March 12-14, 2009).

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