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Dance News: New York City Center Names Lear DeBessonet Next Artistic Director Of Encores!

Dance News: New York City Center Names Lear DeBessonet Next Artistic Director Of Encores!

Published on October 31, 2019
Lear deBessonet

New York City Center President & CEO Arlene Shuler today announced Lear deBessonet as the next Artistic Director of Encores!, City Center’s beloved musical theater program. Currently Resident Director of the Tony-honored series, deBessonet will continue working alongside Artistic Director Jack Viertel throughout the 2020 season and assume her new role beginning with the 2021 Encores! season. DeBessonet will be the first new artistic director to lead the series since Viertel was appointed in 2000.

Arlene Shuler said, “When we began looking for candidates who not only appreciate the Encores! mission but share a passion for the art form, it became clear that we did not need to look far. Lear is a visionary leader with a track record of delivering artistic excellence and shares in City Center’s goal to provide access to the best in the arts to the widest possible audience. We’re delighted to have her lead Encores! in its next chapter.”

The Encores! series celebrates the tradition of American musical theater with revivals featuring original orchestrations as they were meant to be heard.

Jack Viertel said, “The moment I saw Lear’s work as a director I knew I wanted to collaborate with her. Her expression of wit, joy, brains, taste, warmth, and inclusiveness was captivating. Her relationship with City Center began in 2014 and set in motion a series of wonderful, like-minded conversations, and eagerly hatched plans. When I decided it was time for me to hand the baton to the next generation of artists, Lear’s ability to inspire and excite artists and audiences made her the ideal candidate.” 

Lear deBessonet said, “I have a deep respect for the mission of Encores! and am personally passionate about making work that is vibrant and accessible to a new generation of audience members. There’s an enormously rich history here, and I'm particularly excited by the promise and meaning of City Center as a center—a place for all New Yorkers to come together around the arts. I look forward to advancing the tradition of American musical theater at this historic theater.”

Photo courtesy of Lear deBessonet.

In addition to being Resident Director of Encores!, deBessonet is the Founder of Public Works and Resident Director at The Public Theater. Her directing credits include the Public Works musical productions of Hercules, The Odyssey, The Winter’s Tale, and The Tempest; The Public Theater productions of Miss You Like Hell, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Romeo and Juliet; and the Foundry Theater’s Good Person of Szechwan. Her directing credits for City Center include Thoroughly Modern Millie for this season’s Encores!, Big River (Encores!), and Pump Boys and Dinettes (Encores! Off-Center). Her work has received multiple Drama Desk and Lortel nominations, the Doris Duke Impact Award, TCG’s Peter Zeisler Award, a Lilly Award, and an Obie Award for Direction. 


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