Production will focus on script, performers, actor says

NEW YORK — City Center Encores! spawns City Center Voices!.

Alec Baldwin will produce and star in a series of play readings in the 2000-01 season at City Center. The three-play program, called City Center Voices! of the American Theater, follows the org’s long-running series of concert musicals that won a Tony Award for excellence in June.

The actor said that Voices! was his response to Encores!. “Every time I watch Encores!, I’m carried away by the excitement onstage and in the audience,” said Baldwin. “As an actor, I long to be a part of it, but I don’t dance and I don’t sing. So I thought: What if we offered audiences plays in a similar format? No sets, no costumes, no lavish production budget. Put the emphasis on the script and the performers.”

Series lineup

The initial plays in the series include Joseph Kesselring’s “Arsenic and Old Lace” (Nov. 11), Jules Feiffer’s “Little Murders” (Jan. 30) and Stephen Vincent Benet’s “The Devil and Daniel Webster” (March 13). Although the Kesselring and Feiffer works have not received major Gotham productions in many seasons, they are frequently produced in regional and community theaters. The Benet play is infrequently staged.

Baldwin will headline each reading. Other casting was not announced. A City Center board member, the actor last appeared on the New York stage in a production of “Macbeth” at the Public Theater in 1998.

Steve Lawson, who is director of the Manhattan Theatre Club’s Writer in Performance series, helms all three Voices! readings.

Judith E. Daykin is president and executive director of City Center.

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