Esparza hits the Capital in Sonheim tuners

Raul E. Esparza will leave his current gig in “Cabaret” this spring to travel south to Washington, D.C., where he is set to perform back-to-back starring roles in “Sunday in the Park With George” and “Merrily We Roll Along” at the Kennedy Center. The two musicals will play in repertory with four others as part of the center’s Sondheim Celebration in summer 2002.

In June, Esparza plays the two George roles in “Sunday in the Park With George.” Then he jumps into the part in “Merrily We Roll Along” in July and August.

Lonny Price originated the “Merrily” lyricist role on Broadway in 1981; two seasons later, Mandy Patinkin headlined the world premiere of “George.”

A Kennedy Center spokesperson would not confirm Esparza’s participation in the Sondheim Celebration, saying that additional casting would be announced shortly. Christine Baranski and Brian Stokes Mitchell have already been announced to star in “Sweeney Todd,” which plays in repertory with “George” and “Company.” The Sondheim musicals “Passion” and “A Little Night Music” will alternate later in the summer with “Merrily We Roll Along.”

Solid with Sondheim

Esparza’s Sondheim tour puts him back on track with the composer after the cancellation last fall of “Assassins” on Broadway. Esparza had been scheduled to play the role of Giuseppe Zangara in the Roundabout’s 2001 revival. The actor instead went into “Cabaret” as the emcee.

Making his Off Broadway debut last September, Esparza previously played the lead in the world premiere of Jonathan Larson’s “Tick, Tick … Boom.” His Broadway debut came in fall 2000 as Riff Raff in “The Rocky Horror Show.”

Prior to Gotham, the Chicago-based actor was a regular at the Steppenwolf and Goodman theaters.

‘Doll’ house

From Kennedy Center to Lincoln Center, LCT presents a workshop on Friday of the new musical “Doll,” by composer Scott Frankel and lyricist-book writer Michael Korie.

Gustav Mahler doesn’t appear, but his wife Alma shows up in the person of Patti LuPone.

“Doll” focuses on Alma’s relationship with expressionist painter Oscar Kokoschka, played by Roger Bart, who became so obsessed with Alma that he fashioned a doll in her likeness and took it with him everywhere.

Graciela Daniele directs.

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