The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts announced programming for its 2017–2018 theater season. Highlights include The Color Purple, An American in Paris, Book of Mormon, The Illusionists and On Your Feet!
Bernstein on Broadway
September 22, 2017 in the Eisenhower Theater
The Kennedy Center presents a special one-night-only performance celebrating the indelible and lasting impact Leonard Bernstein’s work had on American culture through the Broadway stage. A “who’s who” of Broadway stars will join Tony Award®–winning director Kathleen Marshall and music director Rob Fisher for an extraordinary evening of the unforgettable music of West Side Story, Wonderful Town, and Candide. The performance will also include the irresistibly tuneful score and iconic choreography from On the Town, as well as selections from Bernstein’s Mass, originally commissioned by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to open the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in 1971.
October 12–15, 2017 in the Family Theater
Wilderness is a pulsating new multimedia documentary theater work from En Garde Arts that speaks to our collective search for connection and hope as families navigate the complexities of their children coming of age in 21st-century America. The production is derived from the real-life stories of six families—narratives exploring issues of mental health, addiction, and gender, and sexual identity. Video and projection design combines sweeping landscapes with documentary footage of parents veering from familiar domestic confines to the harshness of the world outdoors. Featuring an evocative folk rock score combined with visceral and emotionally charged movement, this compelling drama begs the crucial question: how do we persevere when we feel most alone in the world?Wilderness is most enjoyed by audiences age 12 and up.
The Book of Mormon
October 24–November 19, 2017 in the Opera House
The nine-time Tony Award®–winning Best Musical. This outrageous musical comedy follows the misadventures of a mismatched pair of missionaries, sent halfway across the world to spread the Good Word. Now with standing room–only productions in London, on Broadway, and across North America, The Book of Mormon has truly become an international sensation. Contains explicit language.
November 24–26, 2017 in the Eisenhower Theater
Direct from sold-out engagements in London, Hong Kong, and Edinburgh comes the next-generation a cappella show, Gobsmacked! Featuring the reigning world champion beatboxer Ball-Zee and an international cast of world-class vocalists, Gobsmacked! weaves stories through all forms of a cappella, from traditional street corner harmonies to cutting edge, multi-track live looping.
The Second City’s Twist Your Dickens
December 5–31, 2017 in the Theater Lab
Twist Your Dickens returns to the Kennedy Center following its hugely popular 2016 engagement. In this wicked parody of Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, Scrooge, Tiny Tim, three ridiculous ghosts, and a cast of Second City’s funniest members take the Theater Lab by storm. Holiday hilarity ensues as a timeless tale is told through the legendary troupe’s trademark improvisation and sketch performance.
December 6–9, 2017 in the Eisenhower Theater
Presented by the National Theater of Norway, Private Confessions reveals a deeply personal and heartbreaking world of secrets and explores what keeping those secrets does to one’s relationships. Ingmar Bergman’s powerfully penned 1996 film of the same name delved into the deepest thoughts of his mother, which were revealed to him only after her death through the pages of her diary. Bergman’s muse, Liv Ullmann, helmed the film; she now returns to direct the stage adaptation of the work which premiered in Oslo in January 2016 and now makes its U.S. premiere. The play’s powerful source material has been expanded to include the diaries Ingmar himself kept during the film’s production. The result is a poignant, non-linear series of “confessions” which delve into the realms of infidelity, family relationships, loneliness, and the weighty results of keeping secrets deep within. Performed in Norwegian with English surtitles.
An American in Paris
December 12, 2017–January 7, 2018 in the Opera House
An American in Paris is the new Tony Award®–winning musical about an American soldier, a mysterious French girl, and an indomitable European city, each yearning for a new beginning in the aftermath of war. Acclaimed director/choreographer and 2015 Tony Award® winner Christopher Wheeldon brings the magic and romance of Paris into perfect harmony with unforgettable songs from George and Ira Gershwin in the show that earned more awards than any other musical in the 2015 season.
December 27, 2017–January 7, 2018 in the Eisenhower Theater
Direct from Broadway, the world’s best-selling magic show returns to the Kennedy Center after sold out performances in 2015. This spectacular showcases the jaw-dropping talents of the most incredible Illusionists on earth. The Illusionists has shattered box office records across the globe and dazzles audiences of all ages with a powerful mix of the most outrageous and astonishing acts ever to be seen on stage. This non-stop show is packed with thrilling and sophisticated magic of unprecedented proportions.
January 9–28, 2018 in the Eisenhower Theater
Stephen Karam’s The Humans is an uproarious, hopeful, and heartbreaking play that takes place over the course of a family dinner on Thanksgiving. Breaking with tradition, Erik Blake has brought his Pennsylvania family to celebrate and give thanks at his daughter’s apartment in lower Manhattan. As darkness falls outside the ramshackle pre-war duplex and eerie things start to go bump in the night, the Blake clan’s deepest fears and greatest follies are laid bare. Our modern age of anxiety is keenly observed with humor and compassion in this new American classic that won the 2016 Tony Award® for Best Play.
On Your Feet!
January 9–28, 2018 in the Opera House
From their humble beginnings in Cuba, Emilio and Gloria Estefan came to America and broke through all barriers to become a crossover sensation at the very top of the pop music world. But just when they thought they had it all, they almost lost everything. From international superstardom to life-threatening tragedy, On Your Feet! takes audiences behind the music and inside the real story of this record-making and groundbreaking couple who, in the face of adversity, found a way to end up on their feet. Directed by two-time Tony Award® winner Jerry Mitchell (Kinky Boots), with choreography by Olivier Award winner Sergio Trujillo (Jersey Boys), and an original book by Academy Award® winner Alexander Dinelaris (Birdman), On Your Feet! features some of the most iconic songs of the past quarter century—and one of the most inspiring stories in music history.
Broadway Center Stage: Chess
February 14–18, 2018 in the Eisenhower Theater
This complex rock opera has been seen around the world. The pawns in this drama form a love triangle: the loutish American chess star, the earnest Russian champion, and the assistant who is torn between them. From Bangkok to Budapest, the players, lovers, politicians, and spies are manipulated to the pulse of a monumental rock store with music by Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson, and lyrics by Tim Rice.
Taylor Mac: A 24-Decade History of Popular Music (1776–2016)
March 6, 2018 in the Eisenhower Theater
A recent winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, Taylor Mac’s work uses songs of the time to chronicle our country from its founding in 1776 to today. Years in development, the show was originally performed in 2016 as a one-time, 24-hour event. This abridged version is a highly immersive and outrageously entertaining crash course in the 240 years (and counting) of American culture and dysfunction, highlighting various musical styles and artistic voices ranging from murder ballads to disco, and Walt Whitman to David Bowie.
Broadway Center Stage: In the Heights
March 21–25, 2018 in the Eisenhower Theater
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s first Broadway musical, with a book by Quiara Alegría Hudes, tells the story of a vibrant community on the brink of change in New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood. The windows are always open, the breeze carries the rhythm of three generations of music, and the biggest struggles can be deciding which traditions you take, and which ones you leave behind. In the Heights won Tony Awards® for Best Musical, Best Score, Best Choreography, and Best Orchestrations.
Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival (KCACTF)
April 19–22, 2018 throughout the Center
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, KCACTF has reached millions of theatergoers and hundreds of thousands of college and university theater students nationwide. The national festival brings together participants from regional festivals around the country to the Kennedy Center from April 19–22, 2018. The national festival includes master classes with leading artists from the American theater, an opportunity for the student participants to engage with colleagues from across the nation, attendance at productions at leading Washington, D.C. theaters, interviews and auditions for scholarship and residency opportunities, and an awards ceremony.
After the Rehearsal and Persona
April 19–22, 2018 in the Eisenhower Theater
Two Ingmar Bergman screenplays are brilliantly reimagined for the stage by celebrated Belgian director Ivo van Hove. After the Rehearsal centers on director Hendrik Vogler, a man who organizes his life within the confines of the theater. His work is his life: rehearsals are like notes in his diary, performances are his autobiography. All emotions are submitted to his control. Yet as the women in his life begin to intrude, he learns that life and reality cannot be kept at bay. In Persona, an actress falls mute during a performance of Electra and has not spoken since. But does she have a condition or is she merely assuming another role? The starstruck nurse who cares for her idolizes the actress at first, but then develops a deep resentment toward her charge. As tensions build between the two, manipulation and emotional attacks trade back and forth, and their two personalities seems to slowly meld together. Performed in Dutch with English surtitles.
Broadway Center Stage: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
June 6–10, 2018 in the Eisenhower Theater
Big business means big laughs in this delightfully clever lampoon of life on the corporate ladder. A tune-filled comic gem boasting an exhilarating score with music and lyrics by Frank Loesser, the show took Broadway by storm, winning both the Tony Award® and the Pulitzer Prize. We follow the rise of J. Pierpont Finch, who uses a little handbook called How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying to climb the corporate ladder from lowly window washer to high-powered executive.
June 12–September 16, 2018 in the Opera House
Hamilton is the story of America’s Founding Father Alexander Hamilton, an immigrant from the West Indies who became George Washington’s right-hand man during the Revolutionary War and was the new nation’s first Treasury Secretary. Featuring a score that blends Hip Hop, jazz, blues, rap, R&B, and Broadway, Hamilton is the story of America then, as told by America now. With book, music, and lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, direction by Thomas Kail, choreography by Andy Blankenbuehler and musical supervision and orchestrations by Alex Lacamoire, Hamilton is based on Ron Chernow’s biography of Founding Father Alexander Hamilton. Single tickets for Hamilton will go on sale to Kennedy Center Members in February 2018 and to the general public in March 2018. Specific on-sale dates and pricing details will be announced at a later date.
The Color Purple
July 31–August 26, 2018 in the Eisenhower Theater
The Color Purple is the 2016 Tony Award® winner for Best Musical Revival. This joyous American classic has conquered Broadway in an all-new production, directed by Tony® winner John Doyle. With a soul-raising score of jazz, gospel, ragtime, and blues, The Color Purple gives an exhilarating new spirit to this Pulitzer Prize–winning epic story about a young woman’s journey to love and triumph in the American South.
Ongoing in the Theater Lab
Shear Madness, the wildly popular comedy “whodunit,” keeps audiences laughing as the try to outwit the suspects and catch the killer. New clues and up-to-the-minute improvisation deliver a different show each night.
Patrons wishing to renew subscriptions may do so by calling the Subscription office at (202) 416-8500 or go to www.kennedy-center.org/subscriptions. New subscriptions may be offered later this summer, depending on availability. Pricing and on sale details for single tickets will be made available at a later date.
The Kennedy Center’s MyTix program offers patrons 18–30 years old and active duty members of the armed services to join for special discount offers and chances to win free tickets. For more information, visit www.kennedy-center.org/mytix.