New York City Center has announced the musical productions in development as part of the Encores! series 2020-2021 season. The shows include The Life, adapted and directed by Tony and Emmy winner Billy Porter, The Tap Dance Kid, directed by Tony winner Kenny Leon, choreographed by Jared Grimes and adapted by Lydia Diamond, and an unannounced third musical. With theaters still shut down to the COVID-19 crisis, performance dates will be announced later.
The new season will be Lear deBessonet’s first as Encores! Artistic Director. In addition, Clint Ramos will join the Encores! artistic team in the newly created leadership role of Encores! Producing Creative Director. He will partner with deBessonet, longtime Encores! Music Director Rob Berman and Jenny Gersten, who joins the team as Producer of Musical Theater for New York City Center. In this new role, Ramos will serve as a core leader in partnership with deBessonet, working to envision and plan for the future of Encores! Encores! will also welcome Camille A. Brown, Eisa Davis and Robert O’Hara as Creative Advisors. They will lend guidance on artistic work and advise in developing creative systems that uphold the commitment to anti-racism at Encores! and City Center.
“I am extremely excited to join this team and begin work on further enriching the mission of celebrating the American musical in all its diverse traditions,” Ramos said in a statement. “I want to honor that mission through expanding equitable presence in our programming and through building transformative theatrical practices. As we continue the Encores! legacy of excellence and exploration, I look forward to further innovating not only our work, but our partnerships with our artists, our audiences, and with the city that we serve.”
Beginning on October 14, the organization will launch the Encores! Inside the Revival documentary series in which deBessonet and Ramos will open up their creative process through performances and one-on-one conversations with the artists invested in reviving these productions. The first installment of the series will focus on Porter’s reimagining of The Life. Additional episodes will include Leon discussing The Tap Dance Kid, Victoria Clark on Love Life and Ashley Park discussing Thoroughly Modern Millie. Encores! Inside the Revival will be available to view on City Center’s YouTube channel and website.