No “Hamilton” hyperventilating next season: The Kennedy Center’s big theater attractions for 2018-19 will be “Aladdin,” “Miss Saigon” and “Hello, Dolly!,” starring Betty Buckley, in the Opera House, with last year’s Tony-winning “Dear Evan Hansen” returning to town after debuting in 2015 at Arena Stage.
Under the guidance of Jeffrey Finn, hired in late 2016 to head theatrical producing and programming, the Kennedy Center continues to gradually expand what it makes in house. This season’s popular Broadway Center Stage series of musicals in concert — which included Lin-Manuel Miranda taking a bow with the concert cast of his “In the Heights” last month — will be back, with a twist. The three concert musicals will be “Little Shop of Horrors,” “The Who’s Tommy” and “The Music Man” with Harold Hill played by Norm Lewis (who got good screen time last week as Caiaphas in NBC’s “Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert”). Finn also plans to add one-night-only staged readings of plays with star actors taking on what he calls “dream roles.”
“Trying to catch lightning in a bottle and let that glow,” Finn says of the Broadway Center Stage projects. For starters, the plays will be American classics. “But who knows where it will go?” says Finn, who is listening to actors about what they’d like to do. Titles, performers and exact venues will be announced later.
The first full drama produced under Finn’s watch will be Evan Linder’s “Byhalia, Mississippi” in the Terrace Theater. “A conventional touchy-situation comedy elevated by strong seriocomic writing,” Peter Marks wrote when the race- and class-themed play — about a young couple expecting a child — was staged at the Contemporary American Theater Festival last summer.
The major tent poles are the four Broadway musicals touring through the Opera House: “Anastasia” in the fall, “Miss Saigon” in the holiday slot, “Hello, Dolly!” in June 2019 and Disney’s “Aladdin” after that.
Three musicals will be in the Eisenhower Theater during summer 2019: the Lincoln Center production of William Finn’s 1990s “Falsettos” (about a tentative gay couple in the early 1980s), followed by “The Band’s Visit” (a likely Tony Award contender this spring) and “Dear Evan Hansen,” which continues to do sellout business in New York even after the departure of star Ben Platt. Also coming to the Eisenhower: “The Play That Goes Wrong,” a London farce that has been on Broadway for more than a year, and the war horse “Tap Dogs,” the thunderous tap-dance-in-work-boots show that has toured internationally since the 1990s.
A new Second City satire called “Love, Factually” is scheduled for December, and five international offerings include a “Measure for Measure” from Britain’s Cheek by Jowl and Pushkin Theatre Moscow.
For the full season lineup, plus the attractions in the vigorous Performances for Young Audiences series, visit kennedy-center.org.