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Kennedy Center to Produce New Ahrens/Flaherty Musical

Musical about Degas' inspiration will be swan song for center president Michael Kaiser

WASHINGTON — The Kennedy Center will produce the world premiere of new tuner “Little Dancer,” with book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and score by Stephen Flaherty. Susan Stroman (“The Scottsboro Boys,” “The Producers,” incoming Broadway musicalBig Fish”) will direct and choreograph the production, slated for the center’s Eisenhower Theater in October 2014.

Musical is a fact-fiction hybrid about the 14-year-old ballerina who posed for a sculpture by 19th century French artist Edgar Degas. The statue is part of the permanent collection at D.C.’s National Gallery of Art.

Ahrens and Flaherty (“Once On This Island,” “Seussical”) were the composer-lyricist duo behind “Ragtime,” the 1996 musical that was revived by the Kennedy Center in 2009 and transferred to the Rialto’s Neil Simon Theater for a brief but critically acclaimed run.

Little Dancer” was selected by Kennedy Center prexy Michael Kaiser as his swan song production before stepping down from his longtime post two months after the show’s bow. “To leave the center on a new work is very exciting,” said Kaiser. “It is also nice to bring back Lynn and Stephen since ‘Ragtime’ was so important to us.”

According to Kaiser, creative work is continuing on the new tuner, which was workshopped in August at Lincoln Center Theater.

He also said the Kennedy Center will be the sole producer for the Eisenhower Theater run, but would invite others to join should there be an afterlife. Still, the center would be the lead producer, as was the case with its 2011 production of “Follies,” which transferred to Broadway for a limited engagement.

The Kennedy Center is currently gearing up for another high-profile musical revival: The Bill Condon-helmed staging of “Side Show,” which bows at San Diego’s La Jolla Playhouse this fall prior to a June 2014 run at the center.

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