Kencen stages ‘Mame’

Royal Shakespeare Co., 'Love-Lies-Bleeding' also skedded

WASHINGTON — The Kennedy Center will mount the musical “Mame” and host the touring musicals “Wicked” and “Little Women” during an ambitious 2005-06 season. A new production of Frank Gilroy’s 1965 play “The Subject Was Roses” also is planned.

Christine Baranski will topline as the eccentric Auntie Mame during the musical’s Christmas run, marking her first visit here since she played Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd” during the center’s Sondheim festival in 2002.

“Mame” will be staged by Eric Schaeffer, a.d. of Arlington, Va.’s Signature Theater, who also helmed the Sondheim fest.

The revival of “Roses” will be produced in January 2006 by Jeffrey Finn, who reportedly has Gotham aspirations should the Tony and Pulitzer winner become a hit here.

The upcoming theater season was unveiled March 1 by Kennedy Center prexy Michael Kaiser along with the rest of its 2005-06 offerings.

That lineup once again will feature a diverse selection of performing arts from the U.S. and abroad in virtually every discipline. Highlights include a major festival of traditional and contemporary arts from China, as well as a fest of U.S. country music and leading ballet companies from the U.S. and abroad. The National Symphony Orchestra plans a high-powered season to celebrate its 75th anni, while the Kirov Opera & Orchestra also will return.

The center’s theater sked includes a return visit by the Royal Shakespeare Company next April and a co-production next June with Chicago’s Steppenwolf Theater Company of a new play by Don DeLillo called “Love-Lies-Bleeding.” Latter is being mounted under a revamped grant program called the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, which will support the production of a new play each year by one regional theater and its presentation at the center’s 500-seat Terrace Theater, Kaiser said.

“Wicked” is booked for the Opera House at Christmas, while “Little Women, the Musical” will hold forth in July ’06.

Harold Prince and Suzanne Farrell have been named artistic advisers to the center and will assist in planning upcoming theater and dance seasons, respectively.

The season will include the debut of the center’s Family Theater, devoted exclusively to entertainment for children and families. Formerly used by the American Film Institute, the space will debut in December with Whoopi Goldberg’s play for children, “Alice.”

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