New York City Center is going off-Broadway this summer with the launch of Encores! Off-Center, a new series that will bring together current artists and groundbreaking off-Broadway musicals. This summer's program will feature three shows under the artistic direction of composer Jeanine Tesori, including Violet, starring Tony and Broadway.com Audience Choice Award winner Sutton Foster. All productions will play at New York City Center; no other casting has been announced.
"I strongly believe that we need to build a new generation of musical theater lovers," City Center president Arlene Shuler said in a statement. "We want young people and people who have never been to a musical theater performance to fall in love with it and discover something in this art form that speaks to them."
Encores! Off-Center will kick off with a production of The Cradle Will Rock, a tale of exploited workers against greedy businessmen. Written in 1937 by Marc Blitzstein, Cradle will be choreographed by Chase Brock and directed by Sam Gold (Picnic) and will run July 10 through 13.
Next up is Foster's one-night-only performance of Violet, with music by Tesori and lyrics by Brian Crawley, on July 17. Directed by Leigh Silverman, the story is set in the deep South of 1964 and concerns the relationship between a physically scarred young white woman and a young black soldier. Violet premiered at Playwrights Horizons in 1997 with a cast led by Matilda star Lauren Ward.
The series will conclude with Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford’s I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road. Directed by Kathleen Marshall, the musical is about a middle-aged singer’s attempted comeback and will run July 24 through 27. I'm Getting My Act Together opened at the Public Theater in 1978, starring Cryer, in a production that ran for 1,165 performances.