The Kennedy Center has had to scrap the centerpiece theater event of its 2011-12 season — a major, reworked revival of the 1940 Rodgers and Hart musical “Pal Joey” — after its director, Christopher Ashley, abruptly pulled out of the production.
Into the show’s June 8 to July 1 slot will go “First You Dream: The Music of Kander and Ebb,” a revue directed by Eric Schaeffer that had its world premiere at Schaeffer’s Signature Theatre in September 2009. The prolific Schaeffer staged the center’s well-received “Follies,” which this month ends a Broadway run and moves to Los Angeles in the spring.
“Pal Joey,” with a new book by Terrence McNally, was to have been the sole theatrical offering this season originating at the Kennedy Center, much in the way that “Follies” was produced there last season. (The other musicals, such as current tenant “Billy Elliot the Musical,” are tours.) That plan fell apart Thursday, when, according to Kennedy Center President Michael M. Kaiser, the center was informed that Ashley, artistic director of La Jolla Playhouse in San Diego, would no longer be available.