The 2016-2017 Kennedy Center’s theatre season promises to be a farrago of familiar classics, ambitious new works — from Broadway and everywhere else — productions staged by distinguished visiting companies and, of course, Shear Madness: sixteen productions in all.
Among the Kennedy Center presentations qualifying on two counts: the acclaimed Fiasco Theater version of Stephen Sondheim’s beloved mashup of fairy tales, Into the Woods, running from December 6 of this year to January 8 of next year, and Cabaret, produced by Roundabout Theatre Company, which will run from July 11 to August 6, 2017.
The Kennedy Center kicks of the theater year by bringing the surprise Broadway hit The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time to DC. This five-time Tony winner (including best play) explores the life of a teenager who apparently suffers from Asperger Syndrome as he tries to unravel the mystery of a dead dog, and ends up unraveling much more. The Broadway production features DC veterans Nancy Robinette and Andrew Long. Casting for this production has not been announced. From October 4-23, 2016.
Running simultaneously (more or less) with Into the Woods is Stephen Schwartz’s Wicked, the musical which examines The Wizard of Oz from the other side. This multiple award-winning show (including three Tonys) will run from December 13 to January 8.
On January 4, the Kennedy Center will begin a run of Richard Nelson’s (The Apple Family Plays) three-play cycle The Gabriels: Election Year in the Life of One Family. The Gabriels unfolds this year over real time; the Kennedy Center will be the first production after the Election Year comes to an end. (You can read Jonathan Mandell’s review of the first play, Hungry, here.) The Gabriels continues through January 22.
In March, the Kennedy Center will feature brief appearances by three International works. Canada’s Needles and Opium, Robert LaPage’s exploration of love and addiction, will run from March 16 to 18. Cuba’s Antigónon: un contigente epico is Rogelio Orizondo’s match between the story of Antigone and various Cuban legends, and is here March 21 and 22. Finally, from Kuwait we have Sulayman Ali Bassam’s Petrol Station, which uses an abandoned gas station as a launching point for a story about Arab aspiration. Petrol Station runs from March 24 to March 26.
Peter Brook’s Battlefield will also have a short run (from March 29 to April 2). Brook derived this story about a war-torn family from his own The Mahabharata.
April will also see a two-week run of the Broadway classic Chicago, the Kander-and-Ebb (with original choreography by Bob Fosse) megahit about the era in which gangsters carried machine guns instead of briefcases. Chicago will run from April 4 to the 16th, 2017.
Tony Award winner Mandy Patinkin (for Evita — he played Che) and Taylor Mac (whose play Hir will run this year at Woolly Mammoth) team up in The Last Two People on Earth: an Apocalyptic Vaudeville, running at the Kennedy Center between April 11 and 15.
The Kennedy Center finishes April off with another international production: St. Petersburg’s Maly Theatre production of Chekhov’s Three Sisters. This classic tale of a family’s disintegration will run between April 26 and 30.
In June, the Kennedy Center will feature two musicals which couldn’t be more different from each other (though both involve Germany). From June 13 to July 16: Rodgers and Hammerstein’s The Sound of Music, which is (you probably know this) the tale of a novice nun who falls for a widower who has a large, musically-inclined family with the ominous march of Nazi Germany in the background. From June 13 to July 2: Stephen Trask and John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch, about an East German man who received a botched sex-change operation, escaped to the West, and now (as a woman) fronts a glam-rock band.
Rodgers and Hammerstein musicals make another appearance in The King and I, which runs alongside Cabaret July 18 to August 20. Based on the book “Anna and the King of Siam,” The King and I dramatizes the efforts of a perceptive 19th-century Asian monarch who seeks to adapt his Kingdom to Western ways, in order to stave off invasion and colonization.
And, of course, there is the interactive mystery-comedy Shear Madness — all Madness, all year, all the time.
Theatre for Young Audiences