Raúl Esparza, Kelli O’Hara and More to Perform at Encores! Gala, 11/12
New York City Center will celebrate the 20th Anniversary of its Tony Award–winning Encores! series on November 12 with a Gala Benefit starring Raúl Esparza and Kelli O'Hara, and featuring performers who have starred in Encores! productions over the past two decades.
The star-studded show, directed by Marc Bruni, will include performances by Sarah Uriarte Berry, Walter Bobbie, Victoria Clark, Tyne Daly, Rob Fisher, Debbie Gravitte, Jared Grimes, Judy Kaye, Rebecca Luker, Rob McClure, Bebe Neuwirth, Megan Sikora and Daniel J. Watts accompanied by The Encores! Orchestra under the musical direction of Rob Berman. The benefit will help fund New York City Center's artistic and education programs.
The gala, honoring Stephanie and Fred Shuman, will begin at 6:00 pm with cocktails at City Center followed by the show at 7:00 p.m. and a post-performance dinner in The Grand Ballroom of The Plaza Hotel (58th Street at 5th Avenue). Gala co-chairs are Patricia and Jesse Lovejoy, Stacey and Eric Mindich, and Robin and Fred Seegal.
New York City Center Encores! (Artistic Director Jack Viertel and Music Director Rob Berman), celebrates the rarely heard works of America's most important composers and lyricists. Since its founding in 1994, it has presented 57 musical productions for an audience of more than half a million people. Each production is a whirlwind, with just eight days of rehearsals, one day of dress rehearsal and seven performances. The cast is backed by The Encores! Orchestra, often more than 30 players strong. Over the years, Encores! has presented the works of Harold Arlen, Burt Bacharach, Irving Berlin, Leonard Bernstein, George and Ira Gershwin, Lorenz Hart, Oscar Hammerstein II, Jerome Kern, John Kander and Fred Ebb, Johnny Mercer, Cole Porter, Richard Rodgers, Stephen Sondheim, Kurt Weill and many others. The program received a special 2000 Tony Honor for Excellence in the Theatre, as well as an Outer Critics Circle Award, Lucille Lortel Award and Jujamcyn Theater Award. Past productions have featured Christine Baranski, Kristin Chenoweth, Tyne Daly, Christine Ebersole, Sutton Foster, Anne Hathaway, Megan Hilty, Cheyenne Jackson, Patti LuPone, Donna McKechnie, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Donna Murphy, Bebe Neuwirth, Rosie O'Donnell, Kelli O'Hara, Lynn Redgrave, Ann Reinking, Vanessa L. Williams, Charles Dutton, Nathan Lane, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Robert Morse, James Naughton, Martin Short, Jock Soto, Patrick Wilson and Jerry Zaks.
Rob Berman is entering his sixth season as music director of Encores! He has conducted 16 productions, including Merrily We Roll Along (2012), On the Town (2009), Stairway to Paradise (2007), and both the Encores! and Broadway productions of Finian's Rainbow (2009).
Sarah Uriarte Berry starred in the Encores! productions of Tenderloin (2000) and The Boys from Syracuse (1997).
Walter Bobbie directed Fiorello! (1994), the first Encores! production, and was Artistic Director of the series from 1995 to 1996. Walter directed the Encores!, Broadway and international productions of Chicago (1996), winning Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards. He also directed the Encores! productions of No, No, Nanette (2008), Golden Boy (2001), and Tenderloin (2000), and as an actor he starred in Face the Music (2007) and Bye Bye Birdie (2004).