‘Once Upon a Mattress’, ‘Jelly’s Last Jam’ & ‘Titanic’ To Get Encores! Treatment; Ephraim Sykes & Jennifer Holliday Set For City Center Gala ‘Pal Joey’
Following a season that saw its Broadway transfers Into the Woods and Parade score a slew of Tony Award nominations, the New York City Center has announced what’s coming next for its celebrated Encores! series: Once Upon a Mattress, Jelly’s Last Jam and Titanic.
The 30th annual Encores! season of concert stagings will kick off in January with Sutton Foster playing Princess Winnifred the Woebegone in Once Upon a Mattress (January 24-28) – the role made famous in 1959 by then-up-and-comer Carol Burnett. Directed by Encores! Artistic Director Lear deBessonet with a new concert adaptation by The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, the comical update of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Princess and the Pea features such musical numbers as “Shy” and “In a Little While” with music by Mary Rodgers, lyrics by Marshall Barer, and book by Jay Thompson, Dean Fuller, and Marshall Barer.
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Next up is Jelly’s Last Jam, the Encores! revival of the 1992 Broadway musical about legendary jazz pianist Jelly Roll Morton. Written and originally directed by George C. Wolfe, the Encores! production (Feb 21-25) will be directed by Robert O’Hara. With music by Luther Henderson and lyrics by Susan Birkenhead, crafted from Morton’s own music, Jelly’s Last Jam includes songs such as “That’s How You Jazz” and “Somethin’ More.” Casting will be announced later (the original Broadway production starred Gregory Hines and Savion Glover).
Closing out the 2024 Encores! series will be Titanic (June 12–16), the Maury Yeston and Peter Stone Tony Award-winning musical, to be directed by Anne Kauffman. According to City Center, the musical will be “pared down to its essence” to highlight “the majestic sweep of Yeston’s nearly sung-through score.” The musical illustrates the class divides “both illuminated and transcended by the ship’s inexorable sinking.” Casting will be announced later. The original production opened on Broadway in 1997 and starred John Cunningham, David Garrison, Larry Keith, Alma Cuervo, Michael Cerveris, Victoria Clark, Don Stephenson, and Brian d’Arcy James.
City Center also announced today that a fundraising production of Pal Joey, directed by Tony Goldwyn and co-directed and choreographed by Savion Glover, will be the 2024 Annual Gala Presentation, opening November 1 and running through November 5. In the revision by Richard LaGravenese and Daniel “Koa” Beaty, Joey Evans (Ephraim Sykes) is a Black jazz singer “who refuses to compromise his craft as he struggles to make it big on the Chicago nightclub circuit, despite Depression- Era racism.” The production also features Jennifer Holliday as nightclub owner Lucille Wallace, with Aisha Jackson as radio chanteuse Linda English and Elizabeth Stanley as a white socialite Vera Simpson. Rodgers and Hart classics like “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” and “I Could Write a Book” are joined by songs such as “My Heart Stood Still” and “The Lady is a Tramp” in the new adaptation.
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