City Center Encores! Off-Center June 25 – July 19 Presents Free Pre-Show The Lobby Project
By: Ellis Nassour
City Center’s Encores! Off-Center, under the artistic direction of award-winning composer Jeanine Tesori [Violet, Fun Home, Caroline or Change, Thoroughly Modern Millie] returns June 25-July 19 with full productions of landmark Off-Broadway musicals "that pushed creative boundaries when they were first produced." The line-up: Pulitzer Prize- and Tony Award-winning composer [Rent] Jonathan Larson’s 2001 Drama Desk and Lortel-nominated tick, tick… BOOM!, June 25-28; Randy Newman’s Faust: The Concert, a one-night-only special event, July 1; and Jim Wann’s 1981 Pump Boys and Dinettes, July 16-19.
The Lobby Project, a series of free [to ticketholders] pre-show events, will also be presented 45 minutes prior to performances June 25 – July 19. They’ll focus on the legacy of the musical and what audiences are about to experience. Numerous special guests.
The 2014 Summer Encores! Off-Center Lineup:
tick, tick… BOOM! is Larson’s autobiographical musical, the story of an aspiring composer who questions his life choices on the eve of his 30th birthday. Tony winner Lin-Manuel Miranda [In the Heights], Leslie Odom Jr. (Smash), and Tony winner Karen Olivo [West Side Story, 2009; In the numerous TV shows] star. Directed by Oliver Butler, with choreography by Camille Brown.
Randy Newman’s Faust: The Concert stars Grammy and Oscar-winning singer-songwriter Newman as the Devil in a darkly hilarious modern-day take on the Faust story. Directed by Thomas Kail.
Pump Boys and Dinettes, a delightful and hilarious hybrid of country, rock, and pop, is the story of four gas station attendants and two waitresses at a small-town North Carolina dinette. It was originally performed by John Foley, Mark Hardwick, Debra Monk, Cass Morgan [Bridges of Madison County], John Schimmel, and Wann, who accompanied themselves on guitar, piano, bass, fiddle, accordion, and kitchen utensils.
Sponsorship for Encores! Off-Center is provided by Stacey and Eric Mindich and Stacy Bash-Polley.
Tickets are $25 [-$110,[tick...; -to $90, Pump Boys; to $150, Faust] and available for purchase at the City Center box office, online at www.NYCityCenter.org, or by calling CityTix, (212) 581.1212. See site for performance times.
Lobby Project Calendar – all take place in City Center Center’s Grand Tier lobby:
June 25 – The Larson Family: In Conversation at 6:45. Jon’s sister and parents in discussion with Tesori.
June 26 – Sondheim REMIX, performance, with Stephen Sondheim, at 6:45. Larson was hugely influenced by Sondheim’s work – enough to use "Sunday" from Sunday in the Park with George as the basis for a tick… tick... BOOM! number. Sondheim will challenge cutting-edge producers, house/electronic musicians, singers, and spoken word artists to tackle tunes from SITPWG and remix them. For information on submissions, visit sondheimremix.blogspot.com.
June 27 – Witness Uganda at 7:15, performance and discussion [on the use of theater as an agent for social change] with Matt Gould and Grifﬁn Matthews, creators and performers of the show, direct from it’s acclaimed production at Cambridge’s A.R.T. For more information, visit www.witnessuganda.com.
June 28 – Matinee: David Auburn and Stephen Oremus, book writer and music director respectively, on the expansion of t…t…B from a rock monologue into a three-person show. 1:15. Moderated by Tesori.
Evening: 54 Below Meets 55 Above: Rare Jonathan Larson Works in Concert, 7:15. Selections from Superbia, Sacred Cows, and Saved! – An Immoral Musical on the Moral Majority, various artists, curated by 54 Below programming director Jennifer Tepper.
July 16 – Pump Boys and Dinettes: Original Cast Jam, 6:45, with original cast members, including Debra Monk, reuniting "for music from the home-grown, rowdy downtown music club scene" and stories tracing the path of from the early 80’s to today, where it’s still one of the most widely performed shows.
July 17 – The Off-Center Young Artists’ Mentorship, performance and mentor discussion with three inspiring urban artists, 6:45, presented in conjunction with the Future Project and the Directory for Contemporary Musical Theatre Writers. For more information, visit www.futureproject.org and www.contemporarymusicaltheatre.com.
July 18 – [title of show], the 2006 hit, performance, discussion, and "shenanigans" with creators, Obie-winners Hunter Bell [book] and Jeff Bowen [music, lyrics], 7:15.
July 19 – Matinee: Teeny Pies, discussion and pie, with Teeny Lamoth, 1:15. Lamothe discusses quitting her job two years ago to tour female-owned pie shops and diners, and compiling recipes into a pie cookbook. Tasting. For more information, visit www.teenypies.com.
Evening: Shaina Taub’s Song Forum, 7:15. Guests from the Crown Heights musical workshop will join Taub, winner of the 2014 Larson Grant and company member of Off Broadway hit Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812. Audience participation.