Next Season Preview: Kennedy Center

The Kennedy Center rolled out its 2014-15 performance map today, and included in the voluminous document are the plans for its theater offerings for the coming season, including the world premiere of “Little Dancer,” the new Ahrens and Flaherty musical based on a Degas sculpture. Previously, we’ve surveyed in this space the new seasons at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Woolly Mammoth Theatre and Arena Stage.


Rema Webb, Andrew Rannells and Josh Gad perform in “The Book of Mormon” in New York. (Bryan-Brown, Joan Marcus/AP Photo)

Company trademark: Musicals  (mostly tours), curated festivals, cabaret performances and children’s theater.

The season:

–”Evita” (tour, Opera House, Sept. 30-Oct. 19)

–”Little Dancer,” by Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, directed by Susan Stroman. (world premiere, Eisenhower Theater, Oct. 25-Nov. 30)

–”Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” (tour,  Opera House, Dec. 16-Jan. 4, 2015)

–”Gigi,” by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe, with new book by Heidi Thomas, directed by Eric Schaeffer (Eisenhower, Jan. 17-Feb. 15, 2014)

–”Zero Hour: Tokyo Rose’s Last Tape,” written and directed by Miwa Yanagi (Terrace Theater, Feb. 6-7, 2015)

–”The Book of Mormon” (tour, Opera House, July 16-Aug. 16, 2015)

–”Once” (tour, Eisenhower, July 7-Aug. 16)

–Plus: Barbara Cooke’s “Spotlight” cabaret series: Faith Prince, Andrea McArdle, Will Chase, LaChanze, Malcolm Gets; five new commissions in the Theater for Young Audiences program; theater companies from Spain and Portugal in the “Iberian Suite” festival (March 2-24, 2015) and, as always, “Shear Madness.”

Highlights: “Little Dancer” is the first new musical produced by the Kennedy Center in ages. The cast features Boyd Gaines, Rebecca Luker and Tiler Peck, a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet. A revamped stage version of “Gigi,” based on the 1958 movie, that had a brief run on Broadway in the early 1970s, will be directed by Signature Theatre’s Eric Schaeffer, with a cast to be announced. The other major offerings are all touring musicals, the most noteworthy being the road company of the Tony-winning “Once.” The sensational “The Book of Mormon” will be back in the summer of 2015, after a hugely successful residency last summer.

Analysis: A new musical taking its first breaths at the Kennedy Center is a blessed event, and the prospect of a resuscitated “Gigi” is also a reason for some excitement. But otherwise, it’s a ho-hum theater slate for the complex on the Potomac. Not a single play, old or new, by an American playwright. Not a single visit by a major English-speaking theater company. The center these days feels as if it is content to be viewed too frequently as a road house. As a result, the impression this bastion of performance presents is one of underperformance.

 

 

Peter Marks joined the Washington Post as its chief theater critic in 2002. Prior to that he worked for nine years at the New York Times, on the culture, metropolitan and national desks, and spent about four years as its off-Broadway drama critic.
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