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Kennedy Center Announces New Season

Highlights include an Academy Award winner and a $10-million gift

The Kennedy Center announced its 2011-12 season lineup this morning, and among the biggest news is that Academy Award-winning actress Cate Blanchett is returning to the Eisenhower Theater in August, this time with the Sydney Theatre Comapny’s production of Uncle Vanya. The Chekhov play is adapted by Blanchett’s husband, Andrew Upton, and costars Hugo Weaving (The Matrix, V For Vendetta). Blanchett starred in 2009’s sold-out production of A Streetcar Named Desire, which went on to run at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in New York. Unlike Streetcar, the Kennedy Center will host the only American engagement of this production.

As well as presenting a fleet of touring musicals from Broadway (Billy Elliot, La Cage aux Folles, Les Misérables, The Addams Family), the Kennedy Center is offering its own production of Rodgers & Hart’s Pal Joey next July, with a revised book written by Terrence McNally. The 1940 Broadway production won three Tony Awards and was revived on Broadway in 2008 in a production starring Stockard Channing and Martha Plimpton.

In more big news, Kennedy Center president Michael Kaiser announced that chairman David Rubenstein, cofounder of the Carlyle Group, is following up his 2010 gift of $10 million with an additional pledge of the same amount, making Rubenstein the largest single donor in Kennedy Center history. Rubenstein’s donation will go toward a new arts-access program, aimed at staging new productions and concerts that will entice younger arts patrons into the venue as well as subsidizing tickets for “millennials” (18-to-30-year-olds) and military families. Highlights include a concert by John Legend and the Roots next May as well as a star-studded tribute to Chuck Brown over Labor Day weekend. And indie band OK Go will perform with Pomplamoose in a free concert on the Millennium Stage next June.

In dance news, the center will host some of the world’s biggest ballet companies next year, including the Bolshoi Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet, the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the Paris Opera Ballet, and the tenth-anniversary season of the Suzanne Farrell Ballet. In contemporary dance, the KenCen is welcoming Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, the Mark Morris Dance Group, the final season of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company, the Ballet Preljocaj, and the Beijing Dance Theater.

For more information, including details of the Kennedy Center’s 2011-12 classical and contemporary music and opera engagements, visit the Kennedy Center’s Web site.

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