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City Center Announces Upcoming Encores! Productions of THE LIFE, THE TAP DANCE KID and More

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THE LIFE will be directed by Billy Porter, and THE TAP DANCE KID will be directed by Kenny Leon.

City Center Announces Upcoming Encores! Productions of THE LIFE, THE TAP DANCE KID and More

New York City Center President & CEO Arlene Shuler today announced the musical productions in development as part of the next chapter of the longstanding Tony-honored Encores! series, all of which will be explored in-depth as part of the 2020-2021 season in a new digital series Encores! Inside the Revival. The five-part mini documentary series, which launches Lear deBessonet's first season as Encores! Artistic Director, will explore the behind-the-scenes process-through conversations and performances-for the productions being developed and ultimately produced at City Center upon reopening.

"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 theater as it evolves today," said Encores! Artistic Director Lear 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 theater can connect us, in this city and across the country. These upcoming projects hold seeds of all three tenets."

In-development productions include: The Life, music by Cy Coleman, lyrics by Ira Gasman, with book by David Newman, Gasman, and Coleman, adapted and directed by Tony Award winner Billy Porter; and The Tap Dance Kid, music by Henry Krieger, lyrics by Robert Lorick, with book by Charles Blackwell, directed by Tony Award winner Kenny Leon, choreographed by Jared Grimes, and adapted by Lydia Diamond, based on the novel "Nobody's Family is Going to Change" by Louis Fitzhugh. A third title, to be announced, will reflect Mayor La Guardia's founding mission that New York City Center present the best of music, theater, and dance for the people of New York. While Encores! usually revives lesser known musicals, the series will usher in a new annual tradition in the spirit of La Guardia's accessible invitation, whereby the performance of a classic title will celebrate the way musical theater connects us. In addition, the Encores! Inside the Revival digital series will include episodes on Love Life (music by Kurt Weill, book and lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner) and Thoroughly Modern Millie (new music by Jeanine Tesori, new lyrics by Dick Scanlan, book by Richard Morris and Dick Scanlan) which were cancelled earlier this year due to the pandemic.

It was also announced today that Tony Award winner Clint Ramos will join the Encores! artistic team in the newly created leadership role of Encores! Producing Creative Director. Ramos, a member of the Encores! Off-Center principal design team for seven seasons and the first person of color to win a Tony Award for Costume Design of a Play (Eclipsed, 2016), will partner with deBessonet, longtime Encores! Music Director Rob Berman, and Tony Award-winning producer Jenny Gersten, who joins the team as Producer of Musical Theater 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! He will shepherd new projects and work directly with artists in realizing their vision from development to production with a focus on innovation. Encores! Producing Creative Director Clint 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."

In addition, Encores! will welcome Tony-nominated and Obie Award-winning choreographer Camille A. Brown, Obie Award-winning playwright and performer Eisa Davis, and Obie Award-winning director and playwright Robert O'Hara as Creative Advisors to the series. Partnering with Ramos and deBessonet, they will lend guidance on artistic work and advise in developing creative systems that uphold the commitment to anti-racism at Encores! and City Center.

Through the new Encores! Inside the Revival digital series, launching October 14, deBessonet and Ramos open up the unique Encores! creative process through performances and one-on-one conversations with the artists invested in reviving these productions. 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, for our time, and provide historical context for the original Broadway production. Encores! Inside the Revival will pull back the curtain on this rich explorative process and allow the artists' vision to emerge in their own voices, culminating in the live performance when City Center is able to reopen to the public.

Encores! Inside the Revival
The Life

In the first installment of the series, Emmy and Tony Award-winning artist Billy Porter (FX's Pose) takes audiences through his reimagining of the 1997 Tony-nominated musical, The Life. Interviewed by Encores! Producing Creative Director Clint Ramos, Porter discusses his vision for an updated take on the story of Queen, a prostitute, and her fellow sex workers, who strive for a better life against all oppressive forces in Times Square in 1980. By re-envisioning the main character of Queen, Porter transforms and evolves the story of The Life into one of hope and survival, honoring the characters' given circumstances, and revealing their universal humanity.

Encores! Inside the Revival
The Tap Dance Kid

Tony Award-winning director Kenny Leon (A Raisin in the Sun) dives into the 1983 Tony-nominated musical The Tap Dance Kid, centered around the life of an upper-middle class Black family and a ten-year-old's dream of being a professional tap dancer despite the challenges posed by his lawyer father and society. Leon, alongside book adaptor Lydia Diamond, will give audiences an up-close look at the percussive heart of the story with the help of choreographer Jared Grimes.

Encores! Inside the Revival
Love Life

Tony Award winner Victoria Clark (Director), Consulting Producer for Musical Theater and previous Encores! Artistic Director Jack Viertel, and Music Director Rob Berman discuss their process of imagining Kurt Weill and Alan Jay Lerner's rarely seen 1948 musical Love Life for Encores! The team explores how Love Life-a musical depicting more than a century and a half of American history through the eyes of a family who never ages and the challenges they face in a rapidly changing world-resonates more than ever as its values, social satire, and activism comment on the national divorce we currently find ourselves in.

Encores! Inside the Revival
Thoroughly Modern Millie

Cast in the role of Millie Dillmount for the Encores! production of Thoroughly Modern Millie, Ashley Park speaks about what she most hopes to explore in creating a new Millie. Step inside the process with Lear deBessonet (Director), Clint Ramos, Lauren Yee (Creative Consultant), Camille A. Brown (Choreographer), Durra Leung (Cantonese Lyricist), and authors Jeanine Tesori and Dick Scanlan. Learn what inspired Brown's new choreography as she walks audiences through the iconic dance break from "Forget About the Boy" and the actual audition sequence.

Encores! Inside the Revival
Connection through Iconic American Musicals

Mayor La Guardia founded New York City Center for the people of New York to experience the best of music, theater, and dance. While Encores! usually revives lesser known musicals, the series will usher in a new annual tradition in the spirit of La Guardia's accessible invitation, whereby the performance of a classic title will celebrate the way musical theater connects us all.

All Encores! Inside the Revival episodes will be streamed for free on City Center's YouTube page and website at NYCityCenter.org. Programming and casting subject to change. New York City Center is located at 131 West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. For information call 212.581.1212 or visit NYCityCenter.org.


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