Bolshoi highlights center's premieres, specials

WASHINGTON — The John F. Kennedy Center will celebrate the millennium with a 16-month schedule of premieres and special events in virtually all aspects of the performing arts, its top brass said here this week.

Highlights will include the Bolshoi Ballet’s first visit to the U.S. in a decade; the American premiere of “The Whiteheaded Boy,” a 1916 comedy by Irish playwright Lennox Robinson; and Randy Newman’s musical “Faust.” In all, some 250 productions are scheduled for the 1999-2000 season, including 12 newly commissioned works. At least 10 commissions will be made during each of the next 10 years, chairman James A. Johnson said.

The theater season will include an April visit by “Art” and a commission of the South African musical “Milestones,” composed by Hugh Masakela, as part of the Center’s African Odyssey series. It also will offer “A Moon for the Misbegotten,” the Cameron Mackintosh musical “Martin Guerre,” the Broadway production of “Electra,” the Oscar Wilde comedy “Lady Windermere’s Fan” and “Brothers & Sisters,” an epic production of the Maly Drama Theater of St. Petersburg.

Not included is the Stephen Sondheim/John Weidman musical “Wise Guys,” which remains unscheduled, according to Kennedy Center prexy Lawrence Wilker.

Gotta dance

Highlights of the dance season, aside from the June 2000 appearance by the Bolshoi (performing “Romeo and Juliet” and “Don Quixote”), include the Houston Ballet’s “Dracula” and a commissioned world premiere of the Ballet Nacional de Espana’s “Soul Possessed,” directed and choreographed by Debbie Allen.

Among the more unusual offerings will be the French acrobatic circus “Les Arts Sauts,” which will make its U.S. preem in August in an outdoor dome. Since the entire performance is on a high wire, the center will set up 800 lawn chairs for the audience. The event is produced in cooperation with Lincoln Center Festival.

All that jazz

Its jazz sked will include new works by Billy Taylor and David Baker, and a new jazz song cycle by Alan and Marilyn Bergman and Dave Grusin as part of the Louis Armstrong Legacy series.

Still other highlights will include live Internet broadcasts of its daily Millennium Stage series of free performances beginning in April, a choral work for 2,000 voices to be performed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, and a series of three one-hour TV programs co-produced with the American Dance Festival on the role of African Americans in modern dance. It will air on PBS.

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