James Lapine, Marc Bruni, John Rando to Direct Encores! at City Center


Jack Viertel, Artistic Director of New York City Center's Encores! series, today announced the final two directors for the 2012 Encores! season. As previously announced, James Lapine will direct the first Encores! show of the season, Stephen Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along, opening on February 8, 2012. Marc Bruni will direct Rodgers and Hammerstein's rarely seen Pipe Dream, opening on March 28¸ and John Rando will direct Jule Styne and Leo Robin's Gentlemen Prefer Blondes opening on May 9. Music Director Rob Berman will conduct all three musicals. This year, the number of performances has been expanded: Pipe Dream and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes will play for seven performances each, and Merrily We Roll Along, extended for a two-week run, will play for 15 performances.

Merrily We Roll Along, with music and lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and book by George Furth, is a musical about friendship and the compromise of youthful ideals, based on the 1934 play of the same name by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart. Merrily We Roll Along begins in 1980 and moves backwards in time, from 1980 to 1955, telling the story of three people whose friendship is tested by time, events, ambition and fate. It charts the rise of a songwriting team during the years of Sondheim's own early career and includes some of his most brilliant and bruising songs, such as "Not a Day Goes By," "Old Friends," "Our Time" and "Opening Doors." Although unsuccessful in its original 1981 Broadway production (which ran 16 performances at the Alvin Theatre), Merrily has gained stature and reputation over the ensuing years, beginning with a reconfigured version at the La Jolla Playhouse in California in 1985, directed by frequent Sondheim collaborator James Lapine. Mr. Lapine will return to the project as director of the Encores! production. Merrily We Roll Along will run February 8 - 19, 2012.

Outcasts yearning for a better life populate the bordellos and flophouses of a 1950s California seaside town in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Pipe Dream, based on John Steinbeck's novel Sweet Thursday. Pipe Dream opened at the Shubert Theatre on November 30, 1955, and ran for 246 performances. It was nominated for nine Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Pipe Dream has not been seen on the American stage in more than two decades, owing to a technicality involving the underlying rights. This Rodgers and Hammerstein rarity includes "All at Once You Love Her," "The Next Time It Happens" and the wistful ballad "Everybody's Got a Home but Me." Pipe Dream will be directed by Marc Bruni and will run March 28 - April 1, 2012.

Set in the Roaring Twenties, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes follows the madcap adventures of the original "dumb blonde," Lorelei Lee, as she sets sail for Europe with her best friend Dorothy Shaw. Based on Anita Loos's bestselling novel, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes has a book by Anita Loos and Joseph Fields, music by Jule Styne and lyrics by Leo Robin. The show made a star of Carol Channing on Broadway and later cemented Marilyn Monroe's status as an American film icon and sex symbol in the 1953 screen version. "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" is the crown jewel in a score that sparkles with songs like "Bye, Bye, Baby," "A Little Girl from Little Rock" and "I Love What I'm Doing (When I'm Doing it for Love)." The original production, directed by John C. Wilson and choreographed by Agnes De Mille, opened at the Ziegfeld Theatre on December 8, 1949, and played a total of 740 performances. The show was revived by Tony Randall's National Actors Theater in 1995 and ran for 24 performances. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes will be directed by John Rando and will run May 9 - 13, 2012.

The 2012 Encores! season is made possible, in part, by Stacey and Eric Mindich and by the Stephanie and Fred Shuman Fund for Encores!

Newman's Own Foundation is a proud sponsor of Encores! The Newman's Own Foundation is an independent, private foundation that derives its grant-making income from royalty payments received in conjunction with the sale of Newman's Own food products. Since the inception of Newman's Own in the early 1980s, more than $280 million has been donated to thousands of charities around the world.

Merrily We Roll Along is generously supported by Douglas S. Cramer and Hugh Bush, Perry and Marty Granoff, and Mary Jo and Ted Shen.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is generously supported by The Joseph S. and Diane H. Steinberg Charitable Trust and Roz and Jerry Meyer.

James Lapine (Director, Merrily We Roll Along) wrote the books for and directed Sondheim's Sunday in the Park with George, Into the Woods, Passion and the recent multi-media revue Sondheim on Sondheim. He collaborated with William Finn on March of the Falsettos and Falsettoland, later presented on Broadway as Falsettos, as well as A New Brain, Muscle and the soon-to-be-produced Little Miss Sunshine. His directing credits include Merrily We Roll Along at the La Jolla Playhouse in California in 1985, and the Broadway productions of Golden Child, The Diary of Anne Frank, Dirty Blonde, Amour and The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.

Marc Bruni (Director, Pipe Dream) has directed Ordinary Days (Roundabout), Such Good Friends (NYMF Directing Award), The Sound of Music, The Music Man, My One And Only, Seven Brides... (all for St. Louis Muny), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Paper Mill/PTC), High Spirits (York Theater), Glimpses Of The Moon (Oak Room). He was associate director of the Broadway, London and touring productions of Legally Blonde and appeared on MTV's "Search for Elle Woods." He has been associated with Walter Bobbie, Kathleen Marshall, Jerry Mitchell and Jerry Zaks on 14 Broadway shows including Anything Goes, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, The Pajama Game, Grease, Wonderful Town, High Fidelity, Sweet Charity, La Cage Aux Folles, and Little Shop Of Horrors (Bway/Tour), as well as on City Center Encores! productions of Finian's Rainbow; No, No, Nanette; Applause; 70, Girls, 70; and Bye Bye Birdie. He directed the Encores! production of Fanny.

John Rando (Director, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes)'s Broadway credits include The Wedding Singer, Urinetown (Tony Award for Best Director), The Dinner Party and A Thousand Clowns. His other credits include The Toxic Avenger at New World Stages and Polish Joke at Manhattan Theatre Club. His previous Encores! credits include On the Town, Damn Yankees, Face the Music, Strike Up the Band, Do Re Mi, The Pajama Game and Of Thee I Sing.

Rob Berman (Music Director) is entering his fifth season as music director of Encores!, where he has conducted Where's Charley?, Lost in the Stars, Bells Are Ringing, Anyone Can Whistle, Fanny, Finian's Rainbow, Music in the Air, Damn Yankees, Applause and Stairway to Paradise, as well as several gala concerts. Broadway conducting credits include Finian's Rainbow, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, The Pajama Game, The Apple Tree, Wonderful Town and Promises, Promises, among others. He is a three-time Emmy nominee for his work as music director of the Kennedy Center Honors and a winner of the Helen Hayes Award for Best Musical Direction for his work on the Kennedy Center's production of Sunday in the Park with George. He was also music director for A Broadway Celebration: In Performance at the White House.

NEW YORK City Center (Arlene Shuler, President & CEO) has played a defining role in the cultural life of the city for nearly 70 years. It was Manhattan's first performing arts center, dedicated by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in 1943 with a mission to make the best in music, theater and dance accessible to all audiences. Today, City Center is home to many distinguished companies, including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre and Manhattan Theatre Club; a roster of renowned national and international visiting artists; and its own critically acclaimed and popular programs. The Tony-honored Encores! musical theater series has been hailed as "one of the very best reasons to be alive in New York." Dance has been integral to the theater's mission from the start, and dance programs, including the annual Fall for Dance Festival and a partnership with London's Sadler's Wells Theatre, remain central to City Center's identity. City Center is dedicated to providing educational opportunities to New York City students and teachers with programs such as Encores! In Schools and the Young People's Dance Series. Special workshops cater to families, seniors and other groups, while events such as the Fall for Dance DanceTalk series offer learning opportunities to the general public. City Center is currently undergoing an extensive renovation and restoration to revitalize and modernize its historic theater. Designed by Ennead Architects LLP, (formerly Polshek Partnership), the renovation will preserve and restore the landmark 1923 building's historic features while modernizing and upgrading the facility to create a world-class cultural center. A gala reopening is scheduled for Tuesday, October 25, 2011.

City Center is located on 55th Street, between 6th and 7th avenues. Merrily We Roll Along will run for 15 performances according to the following schedule: Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (exception: Wed. 2/15 at 7 p.m.). Pipe Dream and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes will run for seven performances according to the following schedule: Wednesday at 7:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.

New Encores! subscriptions are available for the first time in three years and can be purchased at the New York City Center Box Office (West 55th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues), through CityTix® at 212-581-1212, or online at www.NYCityCenter.org. Single tickets for Encores! 2012 go on sale October 10, 2011. Tickets start at $25.

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