March 16, 2013 | by Brian T. Carney
Slated for the season
Kennedy Center, culture, gay news, Washington Blade

The Kennedy Center (Photo by Steve via Wikimedia Commons)

The Kennedy Center has announced its 2013-2014 season, the last under the direction of President Michael M. Kaiser. The schedule displays a remarkable depth and breadth, with several offerings that will be of special interest to the LGBT community and that feature gay and lesbian artists.

The highlight of the theater season is a re-imagining of the cult Broadway musical “Side Show” about the show-business career of the famous Hilton sisters, who were conjoined Siamese twins. Directed by Academy-Award-winning director Bill Condon (“Dreamgirls”), the production will feature extensive revisions by authors Henry Krieger and Bill Russell. Touring productions include “Elf,” “Sister Act,” “Flashdance – The Musical,” “Peter and the Starcatcher” and “An Evening with Patti LuPone and Mandy Patinkin,” as well as the returns of two crowd favorites: “Million Dollar Quartet” and “The Lion King.” Barbara Cook’s Spotlight series will include cabaret performances by Megan Hilty (“Smash”), Lucie Arnaz, Patina Miller, Brian d’Arcy James and openly gay musical theater legend Tommy Tune.

Under the direction of openly gay conductor and composer Steven Reineke, the National Symphony Orchestra Pops season includes such guest artists as Matthew Morrison (“Glee”), Matthew Cavanaugh, Wayne Shorter and Esperanza Spalding and a special holiday performance by Brian Stokes Mitchell.

In addition, Reineke will kick-off a month long celebration of hip-hop culture. From March 28 through April 7, 2014, the Kennedy Center will present “One Mic: Hip-Hop Culture Worldwide.” Reineke will work with American rapper Nas to develop a symphonic celebration of the 20th anniversary of Nas’ ground-breaking debut album “Illmatic.” The performance by Nas and the NSO will combine the artist’s original verse with new orchestral arrangements of his music.

The contemporary dance season includes the haunting and clever gothic rewrite of the classic ballet “Sleeping Beauty” by openly gay choreographer Matthew Bourne, as well as return engagements by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre, Hubbard Street Dance and Ballet Hispanico.

A highlight of the Washington Opera season will be the world premiere of “The Lion, The Unicorn and Me,” based on the 2009 short story by lesbian author Jeanette Winterson. With a score by Jeanine Tesori (“Caroline or Change”), a libretto by renowned poet J.D. McClatchy and direction by WNO Artistic Director Francesca Zambello, this family-friendly opera will premiere in December 2013. The delightful work tells the Christmas story from the perspective of a Bethlehem donkey. More traditional operatic fare includes “Tristan and Isolde” with Deborah Voigt, “The Force of Destiny” in a new production directed by Francesca Zambello, “The Elixir of Love” and “The Magic Flute.”

Finally, world-renowned American opera singer Renee Fleming will curate a three-day celebration of American Voices in November. The festival will include performances, master classes and seminars focused on the rich diversity of American singing, including classical, jazz, musical theater, country, gospel and pop. Scheduled performers and presenters include Lawrence Brownlee, Kim Burrell, Kurt Elling, Dianne Reeves, Norm Lewis and Sutton Foster.

More information on the 2013-2014 Kennedy Center Season can be found at kennedy-center.org/programs/newseason/.

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