Lincoln Center Theater Pushes 'Flying Over Sunset,' 'Intimate Apparel' to Fall

Courtesy of Julieta Cervantes; Joan Marcus
From left: 'Intimate Apparel' and 'Flying Over Sunset'

Both productions were scheduled for spring openings but were forced to suspend performances March 12 when New York theaters were shut down in response to the new coronavirus outbreak.

While a string of incoming Broadway and off-Broadway productions remain in limbo awaiting a significant shift in the coronavirus pandemic before announcing revised plans, Lincoln Center Theater has moved its two major spring openings to the fall.

The new Broadway musical Flying Over Sunset was scheduled to have its first preview March 12, the night that theaters were shut down, with an official opening originally set for April 16 at LCT's Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Intimate Apparel, an opera based on the Lynn Nottage play of the same name, began previews Feb. 27 and was scheduled to open March 23 at the Mitzi E. Newhouse Theatre, the company's principal off-Broadway space.

"We are proud of these shows and the many talented artists who made them, and we hope and pray that we will reopen them in the fall," said LCT artistic director Andre Bishop in a statement Tuesday. "That is our plan. May better times come to us all."

Set in Hollywood in the late 1950s, Flying Over Sunset is a fictional interweaving of the experiences of three famous people who turned to the then-experimental drug LSD for help to face crossroads in their lives: Cary Grant, Aldous Huxley and Clare Boothe Luce. Tony nominees Tony Yazbeck, Harry Hadden-Paton and Carmen Cusack, respectively, were cast in those roles.

The show features a book and direction by James Lapine, with an original score by Tom Kitt and lyrics by Michael Korie. The world premiere was considered one to watch in a race for best musical with no clear frontrunner at the 2020 Tony Awards. 

While that annual honors ceremony remains on the calendar for June 7 at Radio City Music Hall, the general view among industry insiders is that the date will either shift to later in the year in a modified version or that the awards will be canceled altogether, especially given how many eligible shows from the 2019-20 theater season will be unable to open until Broadway is up and running again. That reopening date currently is set for April 13 but is widely expected to be postponed further.

The first opera to be produced by LCT, Intimate Apparel features a score by Ricky Ian Gordon, a libretto by two-time Pulitzer Prize for Drama winner Nottage and direction by Tony winner Bartlett Sher, who has staged some of LCT's most acclaimed productions, including South Pacific, The King and I, My Fair Lady, Oslo and Joe Turner's Come and Gone.

Set in turn-of-the-century New York, the new opera centers on Esther, a lonely, single African American woman who makes a living sewing corsets and ladies' undergarments; it chronicles the process of self-discovery initiated when she enters into a correspondence with a mysterious suitor laboring on the Panama Canal. 

The role of Esther, played by Viola Davis in the drama's 2004 off-Broadway premiere, is sung by Kearstin Piper Brown in the opera, with Chabrelle Williams as alternate.