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Posted at 1:23 PM ET, 03/ 8/2011

'Billy Elliot,' Cate Blanchett, Central Europe top Kennedy Center's 2011-12 season

By Lavanya Ramanathan

Cate Blanchett returns to the Kennedy Center this August to perform in "Uncle Vanya." (Bill O'Leary - The Washington Post)

"Billy Elliot the Musical," the return of Cate Blanchett and a major initiative to lure "Millenials" -- arts fans ages 18 to 30 -- are some of the highlights of the Kennedy Center's upcoming season.

Announced today, the 2011-2012 season is packed with performances and festivals, including a street arts festival that will take place across the city. So let's get to the top picks, shall we?

Mark your calendars for Blanchett's return (after "Streetcar Named Desire" in 2009) to the center. She will play Yelena in a Sydney Theatre Company production of Chekhov's "Uncle Vanya," Aug. 4-27.

Two musicals will have fans clamoring (and crying, and moping, and whining) for tickets: First, it's "Billy Elliot" -- a movie-turned-hit-musical about a boy who fares better at ballet than boxing -- which will play in the Opera House Dec. 14-Jan. 15. It's followed by another sure-to-be-smash, the revival of "La Cage Aux Folles" Jan. 17-Feb.12.

While we're in the midst of the Maximum India festival, the center announced that next year's cultural fest moves to Europe with a look at the rich cultures of three cities: "The Music of Budapest, Prague, and Vienna" will run Feb. 25 to March 29. The center also is kicking off a new festival, "Look Both Ways: Street Arts Across America," that will take performances out of the center and onto to the city's streets. With street musicians, flash mobs, "large-scale spectacles" and more all staged in and around D.C. landmarks, this should be an interesting one. It takes place May 5-13, 2012.

The street festival is part of a larger effort to draw more young people -- read: people in their teens to 30s -- to the center, and, for the first time, to make free and discounted tickets accessible to the "underserved, the underprivileged" and others, including young people and military personnel. The center has dubbed the effort the Rubenstein Arts Access Program. On June 23, it will bring OK Go to the Concert Hall for a free concert celebrating the anniversary of the Millennium Stage. On May 3 and 4, 2012, John Legend and the Roots will perform with the National Symphony Orchestra to mark the anniversary of Marvin Gaye's 1972 concert at the center. Over time, look out for performers who'll appeal to audiences that don't regularly visit the center.

To see a video of the full season announcement, visit the Kennedy Center's site here.

By Lavanya Ramanathan  | March 8, 2011; 1:23 PM ET
Categories:  Theater  
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