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Kennedy Center to Present Abridged Girl Crazy, Bye Bye Birdie & Side Show

After nearly 16 months of renovations, the Kennedy Center's Eisenhower Theater will reopen in October with abridged versions of three musicals presented in one evening with casts led by familiar New York actors. Lonny Price is set to direct Broadway: Three Generations, which will combine shortened versions of Girl Crazy, Bye Bye Birdie and Side Show. Four performances will be held, October 2 through 5.

Girl Crazy, George and Ira Gershwin's classic 1930s musical, weaves together such songs as "Embraceable You" and "I Got Rhythm." Max von Essen Les Misérables will portray Danny Churchill, while Randy Graff currently in Damn Yankees at City Center, Tony winner for City of Angels will play Kate Fothergill, the role that launched Ethel Merman's career. Tony nominee Brooks Ashmanskas The Ritz, Fame Becomes Me will perform the role of Slick Fothergill and Jenn Colella High Fidelity, All Shook Up will be Molly Gray.

Representing Broadway's "second generation" is Bye Bye Birdie, which won four Tony Awards in 1961, including Best Musical. Featuring such hit songs as "Put On a Happy Face" and "A Lot of Livin' to Do," it follows rock superstar Conrad Birdie and the complications that arise when his agent stages a publicity stunt on The Ed Sullivan Show in which he will kiss one lucky girl from Sweet Apple, Ohio, before being drafted into the army. The role of Albert Peterson will be played by Ashmanskas, with Lisa Brescia The Times They Are A-Changin', Wicked as Mrs. MacAfee and Graff as Mae Peterson.

The evening comes to a close with the "third generation" musical, Henry Krieger and Bill Russell's Side Show. Based on the true story of vaudeville entertainers and conjoined twins Violet and Daisy Hilton, the musical earned four Tony nominations for its 1997 Broadway premiere, including Best Musical, Book, Original Score and, in a first, a co-nomination for Emily Skinner and Alice Ripley as Best Actress. Colella and Brescia will play the roles of Daisy and Violet Hilton, with Michael McElroy Rent as Jake and von Essen as Terry Connor.

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