New York City Center has announced that composer Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson) has been selected to be the next artistic director of Encores! Off-Center. Beginning with the 2017 season, Friedman will succeed founding Encores! Off-Center Artistic Director Jeanine Tesori (Fun Home) at the helm of the summer musical-theater series. Tesori will maintain her relationship with City Center as an artistic advisor.
"As a musical-theater writer, Michael represents the theater of today and tomorrow at its absolute best," said Encores! Artistic Director Jack Viertel in a statement. "He possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the past, which makes him an ideal fit for the series. He’s smart, he’s funny, he has a prodigious imagination, and he knows his stuff, which means he’ll be a great person to work with and a suitable successor to Jeanine Tesori. While she can never be replaced, she's paved the way for what will follow."
"What I love about City Center," added Friedman, "is that it has always had a populist vision of the performing arts as something that is available to everyone. Encores! Off-Center has quickly become one of the irreplaceable institutions in New York — which is daunting — but I’m eager to build on the work that Jeanine and Jack have done to broaden our understanding of what musical theater is in America."
Michael Friedman’s recent credits include the musicals The Fortress of Solitude and Broadway's Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson. With the company The Civilians, he has also written music and lyrics for Pretty Filthy, Gone Missing, This Beautiful City, In the Footprint, The Great Immensity, and other shows. An evening of his songs was featured at Lincoln Center’s American Songbook, and he is artist in residence and director of the Public Forum at the Public Theater.
As previously announced, productions planned for the 2016 season are Elizabeth Swados' Runaways (July 6-July 9) and Kurt Vonnegut’s God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (July 27-July 30). The season will also include a one-night concert on July 16 featuring Broadway stars Sutton Foster (Violet), Jonathan Groff (Hamilton), and more.