‘Encores! Off-Center’ is Back With Off-Broadway Musical Magic

‘Encores! Off-Center’ is Back With Off-Broadway Musical Magic

Since 2013, New York City Center Mainstage has hosted Encores! Off-Center, a musical theater series that stages Off-Broadway musicals as told by some of the theater industry’s contemporary leading innovators. Jeanine Tesori, Tony Award winner for Best Musical for "Fun Home" in 2015, serves as Artistic Director and has lined up two musicals and a one-night-only concert for what’s sure to be another popular season.

(Courtesy New York City Center)


The first show this summer (July 6-9) is “Runaways,” Elizbeth Swandos’ show about children who for one reason or another have runaway. Swandos interviewed runaways in 1977 before crafting together their stories into an unconventional tale told from the points of view of young people who are often overlooked. This Off-Center show has been cast mostly with students from the five boroughs, giving these unknown youths the chance to show theatergoers that New York’s young adults have something to say—well, sing.

For one night only (July 16), New York City Center will have a Jamboree! starring previous Encores! Off-Center performers Sutton Foster and Jonathan Groff, along with special guests (who have yet to be announced). Foster, Groff and friends will be singing songs covering the entire history—and future—of Off-Broadway musicals. Tesori will accompany on piano and I cannot wait to see who shows up to partake in this celebration of all-things Off-Broadway.

(Courtesy New York City Center)


The final show this summer (July 27-30) is “Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater,” which also happens to be Howard Ashman and Alan Menken’s first musical together. (Yes, the same Ashman and Menken who later collaborated on “Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Little Mermaid” and “Beauty and the Beast.”) This musical version of Vonnegut’s novel tells the story of a drunk millionaire, Eliot Rosewater, and a lawyer who plots to have him declared insane. Santino Fontana will play Rosewater while Skylar Astin will play Norman Mushari, the lawyer.

I have seen at least one Encores! Off-Center show every summer since it started and they are some of my favorite theatergoing memories of all time. There are at most five performances of each show (with some being one-night-only events), so it is extra special getting to see these performances. Also, before each show is a series of free events for ticketholders called The Lobby Project. These are performances, lectures or readings about the production, allowing the audience to gain further insight or a different understanding of the work they are about to see.

Tickets for Encores! Off-Center are available at the New York City Center Box Office (W. 55th St., btw Sixth & Seventh aves) or online through CityTix®.

 

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