Latté Da presents ‘Musical Shorts’

March 24, 2002.By Graydon Royce, Star Tribune.

Peter Rothstein has collected five short musicals – each about 20 minutes long – into an evening that he’s calling “New York Musical Shorts.”

Rothstein’s willingness to experiment with form has helped his Theatre Latté Da become a popular presenter of musical work. For example, last spring he added a musical dimension in the person of Shirley Witherspoon to the otherwise angry and depressing Edward Albee one-act “The Death of Bessie Smith.” And for the past two summers, he has collaborated with Rob Hartmann to present a revue for Illusion Theater’s Fresh Ink series featuring an eclectic blend of styles and formats.

One of the pieces sampled last summer was “Blood Drive,” set in a blood-donation center. A small London theater produced the work, but Hartmann lamented to Rothstein that no one routinely stages such “mini-musicals.”

“The only thing I’ve ever seen is the double bill, like ‘Weird Romance,’ or a revue where you do songs from a show but not the whole work,” Rothstein said.

Hartmann, a teacher in the graduate program at New York University, has sifted through hundreds of 20-minute musicals that are part of the school’s requirement. “There’s a huge wealth of material that was pretty obscure,” Rothstein said.

Stylistically, the show’s works range from 1930s Parisian music to short opera to country-western.

Rothstein’s cast includes Adena Brumer and Shannon Warne, fresh form Park Square’s production of “Side Show,” Twin Cities singer Julie Madden, and Joe Leary of Mary Worth Theatre.

“New York Musical Shorts” will run in repertory with Outward Spiral’s extension of “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” at the Loring Theater.