Lear deBessonet Named Encores! First Ever Resident Director
In this new role, deBessonet will join Viertel and Music Director Rob Berman as an active member of the Encores! team. She will take part in all discussions surrounding repertoire, production artists, and casting-cultivating relationships with artists new to the series. She will also foster an open dialogue with today's expanding audience around the social and political themes associated with the genre. In addition, deBessonet will occasionally direct a production for the series.
"I can't think of a better time than our 75th Anniversary Season to welcome Lear as the newest member of our artistic team," said Arlene Shuler, President & CEO. "City Center has been a home to numerous artists over its history and it is essential that we continue to promote new voices and infuse the art form with fresh ideas. Lear's perspective, along with Jack and Rob, Off-Center Artistic Director Anne Kauffman, and Artistic Advisor Jeanine Tesori, will lead us into the next chapter of our history."
"I'm simply thrilled that Lear has agreed to join the Encores! family," said Jack Viertel, Encores! Artistic Director. "To have someone with her broad understanding of where musical theater has been and where it is going-along with Rob Berman and myself-is going to help us take the program into its next phase armed with wider horizons, full of unexplored possibilities and delights yet undiscovered. And, of course, she's a director of unique personal vision, which will again find its way to the City Center stage."
"I'm so proud to be part of the great cultural tradition of Encores! at City Center, particularly to be working alongside one of my heroes, Jack Viertel," said Lear deBessonet. "Encores! celebrates American musical theater like no place else, and it offers the chance to both revere the form and push it, with world-class talent and the support of visionary leader Arlene Shuler. I have loved City Center from the moment I walked through the door and am invested in ensuring that as many New Yorkers as possible get to enjoy the splendor of dance, music, and theater it has to offer."
Lear deBessonet is an Obie Award-winning director based in New York. At City Center, she has directed Big River (Encores!) and Pump Boys and Dinettes (Encores! Off-Center). She is the Founder of Public Works and Resident Director at The Public Theatre, for which she has directed large-scale, critically-acclaimed musical adaptations of A Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare in the Park), The Tempest, The Winter's Tale, andThe Odyssey. Her production of The Foundry Theater's Good Person of Szechwan, starring Taylor Mac and Lisa Kron, played an extended, sold-out run at The Public, and earned her an Obie Award for Direction, a Lortel Award for Best Revival, a Drama Desk Nomination, and a Lilly Award. Additional credits include Suzan-Lori Park's Venus at Signature Theatre; Quiara Alegria Hudes' Miss You Like Hell at La Jolla Playhouse and The Public; and Romeo and Juliet at The Public. Now in its seventh year, the Public Works model of community engagement and participatory theater has spread nationally and internationally to Dallas, Seattle, and most recently the National Theater in London.
Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski