The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts has announced its schedule for the 2021-22 season, following a year of canceled shows in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The season, which will run from Oct. 2021 to Sept. 2022, will include a wide variety of shows, bookended by two Tony-Award-winning musicals, starting with “Hadestown” and concluding with “Dear Evan Hansen.” This announcement comes after the Center canceled hundreds of performances and events because of COVID-19 safety restrictions. The upcoming season will also include programming for the Center’s 50th anniversary.
The upcoming season offers something for everyone with its long lineup of shows, according to Jeffrey Finn, vice president of theater producing and programming at the Kennedy Center.
“I am elated to announce what is perhaps one of our most important theater seasons ever at the Kennedy Center as we return with such a full, exciting program of musicals and plays,” Finn wrote in a press release. “The anticipation of being able to see Broadway productions again — and be in the theater together — is palpable.”
Many of the shows lined up for the new season have previously been performed at the Kennedy Center. These performances include the musicals “Ain’t Too Proud—The Life and Times of The Temptations” in 2018 and “The Band’s Visit” in 2019, both of which sold out during their runs. The smash-hit show “Hamilton” will also return to the Kennedy Center in July 2021 for a 12-week run.
Some shows will make their Kennedy Center debut this season as well, with the musical “The Prom” set to perform in January 2022 and the band Blue Man Group set to perform in July 2022.
The announcement represents hope and recovery, according to Robynn Stilwell, associate professor of music at Georgetown University.
“I think all of us are hopeful, and planning for next year is a necessary step. It’s easier (if perhaps more painful) to cancel than to try and scramble to make plans if things open up at the last minute,” Stilwell wrote in an email to The Hoya. “I think it’s, all-in-all, a hopeful step that many in the arts are making, including Georgetown.”
The Center will also celebrate its 50th anniversary during the upcoming season, which includes plans for a new cultural leadership initiative, four artist residencies and numerous new works, among other celebratory efforts. To begin the season in Sept. 2021, the Center will offer two weekends of performances and activities on the REACH campus, a recent expansion of the Kennedy Center overlooking the Potomac River.
As the Kennedy Center launches its reopening, Georgetown students remain hungry for this same opportunity to celebrate performance, according to Maya Roth, director of theater and performance studies at Georgetown and artistic director of the Davis Center for Performing Arts.
“Already we’ve got some projects envisioned that are collaborations and co-productions. Folks want to work together and seize new ways of working, relish and leverage some of the reimagining we’ve been doing in all kinds of ways,” Roth wrote in an email to The Hoya. “The field — and Georgetown arts — will be different. And, I know, grand, next year.”
Despite health and financial hurdles, the Center hopes to provide a season intertwined with the Center’s history, according to Kennedy Center President Deborah F. Rutter.
“I can think of no better way to reemerge from the darkness of these last many months than to reopen with a vibrant, season-long celebration of the Center’s rich history and the bright future of the arts in our nation,” Rutter wrote in a press release.