Your guide to Encores! at New York City Center

The beloved series of limited-run musical revivals off Broadway, often with starry casts, turns 30 in 2024, and the program has earned its exclamation point.

Joe Dziemianowicz
Joe Dziemianowicz

Turning the big 3-0 is always a dramatic event. So, naturally, the historic Midtown venue New York City Center is marking the 30th anniversary of Encores!, its beloved musical revival series, in major fashion.

The 2024 season of this NYC cultural treasure starts with a musically diverse lineup stacked with Tony-winning talent: Once Upon a Mattress starring Sutton Foster, Jelly’s Last Jam starring Billy Porter, and Titanic featuring Bonnie Milligan.

Since 1994, Encores! has ably earned its exclamation point by bringing back rarely revived musicals for a limited time, breathing new life into these old shows. Encores! audiences get unique glimpses into the lesser-known history of American musical theatre — and sometimes, first looks at triumphant Broadway transfers.

Encores! has a truly impressive legacy, and there’s more to come. During this special season, shows are on stage for two weeks — longer than usual, so audiences get an increased chance to rediscover the past, and new generations get a gateway to appreciate earlier gems.

Learn more about Encores! below, including its history of famous productions and how to make a day out of a trip to New York City Center.

Experience the season firsthand. Season ticket packages for all three 2024 Encores! productions are available on TodayTix, and single tickets are available on New York Theatre Guide.

Get Once Upon a Mattress tickets now.

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Get Jelly's Last Jam tickets now.

Book Tickets CTA - LT/NYTG

Get Titanic tickets now.

Book Tickets CTA - LT/NYTG

The history and mission of Encores!

Founded in 1994 by then-City Center executive director Judith Daykin, Encores! advances a mission to celebrate and preserve the legacy of American musical theatre.

From the get-go, the focus of Encores! was concert-style productions of older, overlooked Broadway musicals, showcasing the brilliance of the music and the core essence of these shows. The inaugural season treated audiences to stagings of Bock and Harnick’s Fiorello!, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Allegro, and Kurt Weill and Ira Gershwin’s Lady in the Dark.

Encores! reintroduces audiences to the music and stories of vintage Broadway, featuring scores by legendary composers and highlighting the cultural significance of these works.

Encores! has spawned spinoffs, too. From 2007 to 2009, the Encores! Summer Stars program presented fully staged takes on the Broadway classics Gypsy, Damn Yankees, and The Wiz. From 2013 to 2019, Encores! Off-Center covered groundbreaking Off-Broadway musicals, including The Cradle Will Rock, Tick, Tick … Boom!, and Road Show.

What to expect from Encores! musicals

Unlike fully staged productions, Encores! performances typically have minimal sets and costumes, so the spotlight shines fully on the stars. Patti LuPone, Donna Murphy, Kristin Chenoweth, and Brian Stokes Mitchell are but a few of the performers in past Encores! presentations.

That’s the thing about the series: Audiences can expect to see top-tier talent, including established Broadway celebrities and emerging stars. They all bring classic characters and songs to life with a renewed vigor.

Another hallmark of Encores! productions is musical excellence. Most Encores! revivals preserve the shows' original orchestrations and scores, ensuring that the productions capture the essence of the era when these musicals premiered. The plus-size orchestra is as much an asset as the performers — and it's usually just as visible on stage.

Encores! productions that moved to Broadway

Several Encores! productions made the leap from the City Center stage to Broadway, proof of the program’s ability to recognize musical gems.

A notable example is the 1996 Encores! production of Kander and Ebb’s Chicago, which moved to Broadway later that year – and has been razzle-dazzling ever since. Chicago is now the second longest-running Broadway show ever.

Other Encores! to Broadway transfers include Wonderful Town, The Apple Tree, Gypsy, Finian’s Rainbow, After Midnight, and Into the Woods.

Other high-profile transfers from City Center to Broadway include Parade, which won the Best Musical Revival Tony Award in 2023, and Sunday in the Park with George. While those were also limited-run musical revivals at the venue, they were not official Encores! productions. It's impressive for the venue nonetheless.

What to do around New York City Center

To make the most of an Encores! experience in the heart of Midtown Manhattan, explore the array of dining and sightseeing options surrounding New York City Center.

Where to eat and drink: Before or after the show, check out the Russian Tea Room for a vintage New York experience, the seafood-forward Redeye Grill, or Brooklyn Diner for comfort food. All these restaurants, and many more, are located within two blocks of New York City Center.

Where to sightsee: Check out the cultural richness of the area, including all types of art and recreation besides theatre. The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) is two blocks away. Alternatively, take a stroll through Central Park or visit the iconic Rockefeller Center for a taste of New York’s vibrant energy.

New York City Center's Encores! carved out a unique niche in the Broadway landscape. Combine an Encores! performance with attractions around City Center for a cultural experience right at the core of the Big Apple.

Get Once Upon a Mattress tickets now.

Book Tickets CTA - LT/NYTG

Get Jelly's Last Jam tickets now.

Book Tickets CTA - LT/NYTG

Get Titanic tickets now.

Book Tickets CTA - LT/NYTG

Photo credit: New York City Center. (Photo courtesy of venue)

Originally published on

Feb 21, 2024 - Mar 3, 2024
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Jun 12, 2024 - Jun 23, 2024
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