Blanchett, ‘Joey’ on Kennedy Center slate

D.C. producer-presenter announces 2011-12 season

An exclusive engagement of the Sydney Theater Company’s Cate Blanchett-toplined production of “Uncle Vanya” and an in-house revival of the 1940 tuner “Pal Joey,” with a new book by Terrence McNally, will highlight 2011-12 season at the Kennedy Center Washington, D.C.

“Vanya,” a 2010 hit for the Aussie troupe, will jump-start the KenCen lineup Aug. 4-27 with a cast led by Blanchett and Hugo Weaving. Adapted by Andrew Upton, the Chekhov staple will be staged by Hungarian director Tamas Ascher for its only U.S. appearance. It will be the troupe’s first visit to D.C. since its SRO perf of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in October 2009.

Kennedy Center prexy Michael Kaiser has selected “Pal Joey” as the facility’s big-budget annual musical revival. Christopher Ashley will direct the Rodgers and Hart tuner, slated for June 2012 in the Eisenhower, with a revised book by McNally.

This season, Kennedy Center will produce a revival of “Follies” later this spring.

In an addtion, the center’s Opera House, the D.C. area’s principal venue for touring musicals, has snared virtually all of the season’s top road shows for three and four-week stints. That includes the 25th anniversary production of “Les Miserables” in September and “Billy Elliot the Musical” during the holidays, followed by “La Cage aux Folles” (Feb-March), “Memphis” (June) and “The Addams Family” (July).

Other shows slated for the Eisenhower Theater include the Mabou Mines’ production of “Dollhouse,” actress Holland Taylor’s solo perf, “Ann: An Affectionate Portrait of Ann Richards,” and Twyla Tharp’s salute to Frank Sinatra, “Come Fly Away.”

Kaiser also announced new board chairman David Rubenstein has pledged his second $10 million gift since assuming the high profile post last May, making him the facility’s largest single donor. Money will be used to create a program to attract younger audiences and to make the arts events more accessible to individuals with limited ability to attend in an initiative called the Rubenstein Arts Access Program.

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