Some Encores! productions have nonetheless transferred to Broadway — during Mr. Viertel’s tenure those have included “After Midnight,” “Gypsy,” “The Apple Tree” and “Finian’s Rainbow.”
“His encyclopedic knowledge of musical theater has helped us uncover shows that haven’t been seen for years,” said Arlene Shuler, City Center’s chief executive.
The program, which was founded in 1994 with Mr. Viertel on the advisory committee, has always placed an emphasis on centrality of scores. It hires large orchestras — usually about 30 musicians, a size that few Broadway shows can afford these days — to provide a lush instrumental sound that attempts to replicate the original.
“The mission has always been to hear musicals that have superior scores, played as they were originally played, with their original orchestrations — or as close as we can get — and with choruses that can sing the original vocal arrangements,” Mr. Viertel said. “We have big casts, big orchestras, and, relative to Broadway, very minimal production values.”
Mr. Viertel, who has overseen 60 productions with an estimated audience of 850,000, declined to single out a favorite show, but cited productions of “Follies,” “The Most Happy Fella,” “It’s a Bird … It’s a Plane … It’s Superman” and “Juno” as among his “thrilling moments.”
Among the most successful productions, he said, was “1776.”
He said his most pleasant surprise was “The New Moon,” an operetta by Sigmund Romberg. When Rob Fisher, the program’s music director, suggested an operetta, “I said I hate operettas,” Mr. Viertel said. “Then I realized I had never heard one.”