Raul Esparza, Anika Noni Rose Cast in City Center’s “Cradle”

Frederick M. Brown

Raul Esparza, Danny Burstein, Judy Kuhn and Anika Noni Rose are among the cast members just announced for the upcoming production of “The Cradle Will Rock,” which will inaugurate New York City Center’s new Encores! Off-Center series, July 10-13.

“The Cradle Will Rock,” with music, lyrics and book by Marc Blitzstein, is described as “a powerful political satire ... set against the backdrop of a steel strike and peopled with fat-cat capitalists, brutal policemen, heroic union organizers, and a warm-hearted prostitute."

The show was developed in 1937 with funds from the Federal Theater Project, a branch of the WPA. The original production, directed by Orson Welles, was shut down four days before opening. Officially, it was closed due to WPA budget cuts, but many cited the show’s pro-union themes as the government’s impetus for its closing. "Cradle" finally opened Off-Broadway at the Venice Theatre in June 1937 with private funding, and made it to Broadway the next year.

The City Center cast will also include Eisa Davis, Peter Friedman, Martin Moran, Da’Vine Joy Randolph and Henry Stram. Sam Gold (“Picnic,” “Seminar”) will direct, with choreography by Chase Brock. As well: actresses Cherry Jones and Lisa Kron will tell the story of “The Cradle Will Rock” in Blitzstein and Houseman’s own words at 7:15 p.m. on July 13 as one of several “Lobby Project” events.

The majority of tickets for all Encores! Off-Center productions are $25. All tickets can be purchased online at, or by calling CityTix at 212-581-1212. The story of the musical’s historic 1937 opening, as told by late actor John Houseman, who collaborated with Welles during the Federal Theatre Project, can be heard below.

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