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Skyler Astin, Jonathan Groff & More Join Encores! Off-Center 2016 Season; Jeanine Tesori Will Depart as Artistic Director

New York City Center's 2016 Encores! Off-Center season will begin with the previously announced production of Elizabeth Swados' landmark 1978 musical Runaways, which will run for five performances at City Center from July 6-9. Sam Pinkleton will direct and Ani Taj will choreograph. The season will continue on July 16 with Off-Center Jamboree!, a one-night-only concert featuring alums Sutton Foster, Jonathan Groff, and special guests, performing selections past, present, and future, with Encores! Off-Center Artistic Director Jeanine Tesori at the piano. The Off-Center season will close withKurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, starring Santino Fontana and Skylar Astin, running for five performances from July 27-30. The 1979 musical, which marked the first collaboration of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken, will be directed by Tony Award winner Michael Mayer, with choreography by Lorin Latarro. The 2016 season will be Tesori's fourth and final season leading Encores! Off-Center.

"It's time to hand it off to someone else," said Tesori. "I love doing it, and I think it's good to go while I still love it." Tesori will still be a creative force at City Center. "The plan is for me to do concerts or events of some kind," she says, "because I really love the building."

In 1977, Elizabeth Swados spent several months observing and interviewing child runaways before shaping their stories, fears, and fantasies into a musical. A deeply unconventional work in its day, Runawaysfeels like the funkiest, most heartbreaking mixtape ever to come out of a 1970s boom box, packed with reggae anthems, hip-hop, soul-food lullabies, and spoken-word poetry. Cast largely with students from throughout the five boroughs, the Encores! Off-Center production of Runaways will honor the crowning achievement of a theater visionary who was ferocious, inspiring, and left us far too soon.

The songs of Howard Ashman and Alan Menken have become part of the American subconscious-but few have heard their first musical, Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. The show tells the story of Eliot Rosewater (Santino Fontana), a drunken millionaire who decides to blow his fortune on a town full of pitiable creatures: the illiterate, the depressed, and the eternally pregnant. But there are forces who want to put the kibosh on his philanthropy-like Norman Mushari (Skylar Astin), a lawyer plotting to have Eliot declared insane. With an irresistible crazy-quilt score that volleys between pop, ragtime, Gilbert & Sullivan, and proto-Disney ballads, Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater deserves to be part of our world again. The Off-Centerproduction will feature orchestrations by Danny Troob, heard for the first time this summer.

New York City Center's Encores! Off-Center series presents Off-Broadway musicals that pushed creative boundaries when they were first produced. Filtered through the lens of today's artists, these shows are presented not as historical documents but as living, vital works that continue to resonate with audiences. The series also features The Lobby Project, a series of free performances, conversations, and readings by groundbreaking artists, poets, authors, and performers. The Lobby Project events place each musical in context of its legacy and provide insights into the work the audience is about to experience. (The schedule of Lobby Project events will be announced at a later date.)

Off-Center reflects City Center's ongoing outreach to new and younger audiences. In keeping with this mission, $25 tickets will be available to college students and young adults starting Feb 15, before the general public. [NOTE: It is necessary to sign up for City Center's free Peer to Peer program to be eligible for these advance tickets.] Peer to Peer, New York City Center's discount ticket program for students and young adults, provides special ticket offers on select City Center productions for full-time college students as well as to non-students under 25. Students must have valid college IDs or email addresses ending in .edu, and non-students must have valid government-issued IDs with proof of age. They can sign up for the free program at www.NYCityCenter.orgto receive discount offers throughout the season.

Tickets go on sale to the general public Feb 22 (Feb 8 for Members, Feb 15 for Peer to Peer members).Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling CityTix at 212.581.1212, or in person at the City Center Box Office. New York City Center is located at 131 West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.

New York City Center gratefully acknowledges the Encores! Off-Center Founding Sponsors, Stacey and Eric Mindich and Stacy Bash-Polley; Leadership Sponsor, Nathalie and Pablo Salame; Series Sponsors, American Express, Luigi Caiola and Sean McGill, Andrew Martin-Weber, and the Stephanie and Fred Shuman Fund for Encores!; with additional support provided by The Frederick Loewe Foundation, Paula and Ira Resnick and Alec Stais and Elissa Burke. In addition, City Center thanks The Howard Gilman Foundation and Lisa and Richard Witten for their generous support in establishing the Artistic Innovation Fund.

The Lobby Project is sponsored by The Frederick Loewe Foundation.

Runaways is presented by special arrangement with SAMUEL FRENCH, INC. Kurt Vonnegut's God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI).

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