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RCC Prepares New Season for the Arts

Tickets go on sale this Sunday for what is being called one of the strongest CenterStage schedules in 20 years.

Reston residents have come to expect an eclectic mix of theater, art, music, literary and family events each year at the Reston Community Center's annual CenterStage performances. This year's schedule, RCC officials said, is perhaps the strongest in the institution's 20-year history.

"We've got a very strong season with a lot of sure-fire sellouts," said Dennis Kern, RCC's executive director. "It's going to be great. We're all really thrilled."

More than a few performances are expected to sell out this Sunday when tickets to the new CenterStage arts season go on sale for Reston residents at the Reston Community Center at Hunters Woods.

Among the highlights of this year's CenterStage schedule are:

* Tony Kushner, the playwright behind Angels in America, who will be interviewed by Reston arts advocate, Ann Rodriguez.

* David Sedaris, the author of several best-selling humor books, including his most recent "Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim," that recount his childhood and chronicle his and his family's life.

* Terry Gross, the host of National Public Radio's "Fresh Air," a show that interviews artists, politicians, cultural commentators and personalities.

* Lunasa, an Irish music band with members who are considered among the best instrumentalists in the genre.

* The Reduced Shakespeare Company, a CenterStage veteran that will perform a condensed and comedic version of American history.

LEILA GORDON, RCC's performing and fine arts director, said this year's schedule is a reflection of the relationships RCC has built with artists and their agents over the years and of the positive experience the acts have enjoyed at the 290-person theater in years past.

"From their perspective, they have a small, highly intelligent and appreciative audience to share their work," she said. "The good feelings that they have with folks here stay with them, get talked about, and so we have a superb reputation in the field."

Performances with authors are expected to be among this season's biggest draws, Gordon said. In addition to Kushner and Sedaris, the mystery writer Walter Mosley will also read from his work and discuss topics such as race and redemption.

"These are authors who have enjoyed and embrace the opportunity to do something different from simply reading an excerpt from a book and signing them in a bookstore," she said.

The classical music events and dance performances are also expected to draw sellout crowds, said Liz Milner, RCC's spokeswoman.

"They're wonderful," she said. "You have to pay a fortune to see dance at the Kennedy Center, but you can see them for much cheaper right here at CenterStage."

RESIDENTS of Special Tax District No. 5 — which comprises Reston and a small bit of the surrounding area — can purchase tickets to CenterStage events before the general public. For district residents, tickets go on sale this Sunday at 2 p.m. at the RCC-Hunters Woods box office. For everyone else, tickets go on sale the following Sunday.

Kern said RCC expects several events will sell out before the general public will have a chance to purchase tickets. And people from across the Washington, D.C. region are expected to travel to Reston for some of the marquee performances.

"We've been getting e-mails about David Sedaris and Tony Kushner for months," he said.