The Kennedy Center announced its new season today -- and the theater season alone is gasp-worthy. Of course, the question is what to gasp over first? The new production of Les Miz? Uncle Vanya starring CATE BLANCHETT and HUGO WEAVING? Pal Joey? How about Billy Elliott? Memphis? La Cage aux Folles? The Addams Family? A ginormous Sondheim concert???
We think we've just been overcome by the vapors....
Here are highlights from the press release that just landed with a giant kaboom on Spotlight's desk....
UNCLE VANYA, August 4-27, 2011, Eisenhower Theater -- Following the success of A Streetcar Named Desire in 2009, Sydney Theatre Company returns to the Kennedy Center with the exclusive American engagement of Chekhov's tragicomedy, Uncle Vanya, adapted by Andrew Upton and directed by one of the world's foremost interpreters of Chekhov, Tamas Ascher. On a dilapidated, remote farm, Vanya (Richard Roxburgh) and his niece Sonya (Hayley McElhinney) have worked slavishly for years to sustain an estate in decline. Now the Professor (John Bell) and his wife Yelena (Cate Blanchett) have returned to visit, bringing with them chaos and disruption. Constant visits from the charismatic Astrov (Hugo Weaving) are not helpful. It is in this climate of frustration, thwarted hopes, and disarray that three consuming love affairs grow.
LES MISERABLES -- The New 25th Anniversary Production, September 27-October 30, 2011, Opera House -- The world's most popular musical made its pre-Broadway premiere at the Kennedy Center in December 1986, and now Cameron Mackintosh presents a brand new 25th anniversary production of Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schonberg's legendary musical, Les Miserables, with new staging and reimagined scenery inspired by the paintings of Victor Hugo. This new production has been acclaimed by critics, fans and new audiences and is breaking box office records wherever it goes. Based on Victor Hugo's classic novel, Les Miserables is an epic and uplifting story about the survival of the human spirit.
BILLY ELLIOT THE MUSICAL, December 14, 2011-January 15, 2012, Opera House -- Winner of ten 2009 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Billy Elliot the Musical is a celebration of one young boy's triumph against the odds. The story follows Billy as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class, discovering a surprising passion that inspires his family and his whole community. Full of life, laughter, award-winning choreography, and an unforgettable score, Billy Elliot the Musical will enchant the dreamer in all of us. Based on the international smash-hit film, the musical is brought to life by a cast of 45 and the Tony-winning creative team — director Stephen Daldry, choreographer Peter Darling, writer Lee Hall and music legend Elton John.
ANN: AN AFFECTIONATE PORTRAIT OF ANN RICHARDS, December 17, 2011-January 15, 2012, Eisenhower Theater -- ANN: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards is a play with Emmy Award-winning stage and screen actress Holland Taylor (Two and a Half Men). A hilarious and touching evening of theater celebrating a beloved daughter of Texas, Taylor hopes ANN will bring a magical touch to the past and the present, swirling them together as only the theater can do, and leaving the audience with an enhanced sense not only of a person and a time, but of themselves.
LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, January 17-February 12, 2012, Opera House -- Winner of three Tony Awards including Best Musical Revival, this new production of La Cage aux Folles was the biggest hit of the 2010 Broadway season. La Cage aux Folles tells the story of Georges, the owner of a glitzy nightclub in lovely Saint-Tropez, and his partner Albin, who moonlights as the glamorous chanteuse Zaza. When Georges' son brings his fiancée's conservative parents home to meet the flashy pair, the bonds of family are put to the test as the feather boas fly. La Cage aux Folles is a tuneful and touching tale of one family's struggle to stay together, stay fabulous, and above all else, stay true to themselves.
COME FLY AWAY, April 18-29, 2012, Eisenhower Theater --Conceived, choreographed and directed by Kennedy Center Honoree Twyla Tharp, Come Fly Away pays homage to the music of Frank Sinatra. Featuring Sinatra's vocals and a live on-stage big band, the production is set in a nightclub where four couples search for love.
PAL JOEY, June 2-July 1, 2012, Eisenhower Theater Winner of three Tony Awards for its original 1940 Broadway production, Pal Joey features music by Richard Rodgers and lyrics by Lorenz Hart with a revised book by Terrence McNally. Directed by Christopher Ashley, this new Kennedy Center major revival production follows the overly self-confident Joey Evans, who lands himself in trouble with work and women as he chases after the dream of owning his own nightclub.
MEMPHIS, June 12-July 1, 2012, Opera House -- Winner of four 2010 Tony Awards including Best Musical, Memphis, which played pre-Broadway at the La Jolla Playhouse, features a Tony-winning book by Joe DiPietro and a Tony-winning original score with music by Bon Jovi founding member David Bryan. Directing is Tony nominee Christopher Ashley (Xanadu) and choreography is by Sergio Trujillo. From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis, Tennessee, comes a hot new Broadway musical that bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs, and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. Inspired by actual events, Memphis is about a white radio DJ who wants to change the world and a black club singer who is ready for her big break.
THE SONDHEIM CELEBRATION 10TH ANNIVERSARY CONCERT, June 25, 2012, Concert Hall -- In 2002, the Center produced six full productions of Sondheim's works in repertory: Company, Sunday in the Park with George, Sweeney Todd, Passion, Merrily We Roll Along, and A Little Night Music. On June 25, 2012, the Kennedy Center will present The Sondheim Celebration 10th Anniversary Concert, commemorating 10 years since the legendary Sondheim Celebration, and also marking the 15th anniversary of the Millennium Stage. Directed by Sondheim Celebration Artistic Director Eric Schaeffer with music direction by James Moore, the free concert will take place at 6 p.m. in the Concert Hall with a cast that includes Anastasia Barzee, Sarah Uriarte Berry, Matt Bogart, Blair Brown, Michael Cerveris, Natascia Diaz, Melissa Errico, Raul Esparza, Thursday Farrar, Philip Goodwin, Randy Graff, Judy Kuhn, Rebecca Luker, Hugh Panaro, Alice Ripley, Douglas Sills, and Emily Skinner.
THE ADDAMS FAMILY, July 10-29, 2012, Opera House -- The weird and wonderful family comes to devilishly delightful life in The Addams Family. Based on the characters by legendary cartoonist Charles Addams, this magnificently macabre new musical comedy is created by Jersey Boys authors Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, Drama Desk-winning composer/lyricist Andrew Lippa, choreographer Sergio Trujillo, and Olivier Award-winning director/designers Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch with creative consultation by four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks. This is definitely not the same old song and dance. It's every parent's nightmare. Your little girl has suddenly become a young woman, and what's worse, has fallen deliriously in love with a sweet, smart young man from a respectable family. Yes, Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, has a normal boyfriend, and for parents Gomez and Morticia, this shocking development will turn the Addams house downside up. It's a family portrait that's completely off the wall.
For a look at the entire KenCen season, including music, dance, everything, plus video clips, click here.