For Immediate Release
April 28, 2015
Contact: Seena Hodges
NEXT: New Musicals in the Making begins Thursday!
The series features readings of new musicals from a dynamic group of playwrights, composers and lyricists including award-winning writer Michael Elyanow and singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke (LULLABY); recent McKnight Foundation Playwriting Fellowship recipient Harrison David Rivers (THE LAST QUEEN OF CANAAN); off-Broadway Dogfight book writer Peter Duchan and recent Lady Gaga opening act Breedlove (STU FOR SILVERTON).
The series begins Thursday, April 30 and continues through May 16 at the Ritz Theater in NE Minneapolis.
$30 three-show passes and $12 single tickets are on sale now and can be purchased at latteda.org or by calling 612-339-3003.
(Minneapolis/St. Paul) Theater Latté Da will begin its new work series NEXT: New Musicals in the Making on Thursday. The series showcases three musicals in various stages of development and features an exciting slate of offerings from a dynamic collection of playwrights, composers and lyricists. Performances will be held at The Ritz Theater (345 13th Avenue NE) in Minneapolis. $30 three-show passes and $12 single tickets can be purchased online at latteda.org or by calling 612-339-3003.
The first offering is LULLABY, a play with music with a book by Michael Elyanow and music and lyrics by Elyanow and Jonatha Brooke (My Mother Has Four Noses; Playwrights’ Center/Guthrie Theater). LULLABY is directed by Playwrights’ Center Producing Artistic Director Jeremy B. Cohen. Brooke is the musical director and is also featured in the reading with Adelin Phelps (The Drunken City; Dark and Stormy Productions), veteran theater and television actor Jefferson Slinkard and Michael Weiser (The Cherry Orchard; Classic Stage Theater Company in New York). Lullaby is the story of a widowed mother who, haunted by the death of her husband, forms an unlikely friendship with the lesbian guitar tutor she hires to teach her to play lullabies for her infant son. LULLABY is an intimate story about the stories we tell ourselves before the lights go out.
What the artists are saying:
On the work in the rehearsal room Elyanow offers, “We laugh a lot. We sing a lot. We’re finding moments to reveal character, to heighten the comedy, to bring out the emotion. We are tearing through this play, and tearing through our eyeballs.”
On her work on LULLABY, Brooke offers, “I LOVE this process. LULLABY is evolving in to a gorgeous, moving piece of theatre. There’s a sweet, collaborative energy around this project that moves me to tears pretty much every day. Michael is unbelievable, - taking away what we learn in the room and chiseling these characters - and we’ve written five new songs in the process too. The muse is behaving quite nicely I would say.
Book by Michael Elyanow
Music & Lyrics by Michael Elyanow & Jonatha Brooke
Directed by Jeremy B. Cohen
Musical Direction by Jonatha Brooke
Cast: Jonatha Brooke, Adelin Phelps, Jefferson Slinkard and Michael Weiser
Performance Dates & Times: Thursday, April 30 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, May 2 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 3 at 2:00 p.m.
Upcoming musicals in the NEXT: New Musicals in the Making Series
THE LAST QUEEN OF CANAAN is a new musical by current Playwrights’ Center Many Voices Jerome Fellow and recent McKnight Foundation Playwright Fellowship recipient Harrison David Rivers, with music by Jacob Yandura, lyrics by Rebekah Greer Melocik, directed by Theater Latté Da Artistic Director Peter Rothstein and musical direction by Sanford Moore. THE LAST QUEEN OF CAANAN is a compelling story set in 1937 on a farm in rural Virginia that follows the relationship between an uncompromising 92-year old sharecropper and her restless 22-year old great granddaughter. The musical features the talents of Ivey Award-winner Regina Williams (The Color Purple; Park Square Theatre) and Nathan Barlow (Marcus, or the Secret of Sweet; Pillsbury House Theatre) among others.
THE LAST QUEEN OF CANAAN
Book by Harrison David Rivers Music by Jacob Yandura Lyrics by Rebekah Greer Melocik Directed by Peter Rothstein Musical Direction by Sanford Moore
Set in 1937 on a farm in rural Virginia, THE LAST QUEEN OF CANAAN, follows the relationship between Cora Skye, an uncompromising 92-year old sharecropper, and Ginny, her restless 22-year old great granddaughter. When Kay, a Northern do-gooder, descends on the property to collect Cora’s story for the WPA, she unwittingly fans the flames of Ginny’s desire to escape the farm, precipitating a confrontation that will leave all three women forever changed. With a rich, gospel-infused score, THE LAST QUEEN OF CANAAN is a haunting tale of legacy and the life-altering power of a promise.
Cast: Nathan Barlow, Yolande Bruce, Michelle Carter, ShaVunda Horsley, Malik Johnson, Kasono Mwanza, Derek Prestly, Rachel Weber and Regina Williams
Performance Dates & Times: Thursday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, May 10 at 2:00 p.m.
The final piece in the series is the musical STU FOR SILVERTON by award-winning New York based playwright Peter Duchan. The piece features music by recent opening act for Lady Gaga’s artRAVE tour Breedlove and is directed by Intiman Theatre Producing Artistic Director Andrew Russell. Theater Latté Da Resident Music Director Denise Prosek serves as musical director. Based on true-life events, STU FOR SILVERTON is the story of Stu Rasmussen—a lifelong resident of Silverton, Oregon—who was launched into the spotlight when he became America’s first openly transgender Mayor in 2008. Struggling to overcome the weight of adversity, Stu found uncompromising support and love in the most unlikely of places. The musical features Dieter Bierbrauer (OLIVER!; Theater Latté Da/Hennepin Theatre Trust) in the role of Stu, as well as Melissa Hart (My Fair Lady; Guthrie Theater), Kim Kivens (OLIVER!; Theater Latté Da/Hennepin Theatre Trust), Kersten Rodau (The Little Mermaid; Chanhasssen Dinner Theatre) and Max Wojtanowicz (Fruit Fly; Illusion Theatre). The piece was commissioned by Intiman Theater in Seattle.
STU FOR SILVERTON
Book by Peter Duchan Music and Lyrics by Breedlove Directed by Andrew Russell Musical Direction by Denise Prosek
Based on the true story of America’s first transgender mayor and the town that elected him, STU FOR SILVERTON celebrates a new American folk hero from Silverton, Oregon. This all-American new musical blends Our Town and The Rocky Horror Show, testing the boundaries of tolerance as a small community adjusts to big changes.
Featuring: Dieter Bierbrauer, Brandon Brooks, Julia Cook, Janet Hanson, Melissa Hart, Kim Kivens, Kevin Leines, Sherwin Resurreccion, Kersten Rodau, Andre Shoals, Ed Williams, Jr. and Max Wojtanowicz
Performance Dates & Times: Wednesday, May 13 at 7:30 p.m.; Friday, May 15 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 16 at 2:00 p.m.
Each musical receives three public performances followed by post-show discussions, which provide vital feedback for the writers. “We believe strongly in the importance of fueling the creative journeys of artists and to engage audiences in the development process,” says Peter Rothstein. “It is our hope to use NEXT: New Musicals in the Making as a vehicle to nurture musical theater writers and to make a significant contribution to future of the great American Musical.”
About the Artists:
Michael Elyanow is an award-winning writer for stage and (small) screen. THEATRE: Robyn Is Happy was produced in 2013 at B Street Theatre, directed by Buck Busfield. The Children was produced in 2012 at The Theatre @ Boston Court and directed by Jessica Kubzansky. It won the 2013 GLAAD Award for Outstanding LA Theatre and is published in its entirety in the international theatre journal TheatreForum. A Lasting Mark, commissioned by Hartford Stage, was part of Manhattan Theatre Club’s 2011 7@7 Reading Series. Lullaby was last heard at The Lark. The Idiot Box, published by Samuel French, was produced at Open Fist (2007) and Naked Eye theatres (2003), both directed by Jeremy B Cohen. Ten-minute plays include Banging Ann Coulter and A Few More Dumb Propositions, both published by Playscripts. Television: Michael has developed pilots with ACME Productions (The Exes), Tagline Pictures (Psych) and Vesuvius Productions (Spartacus). In addition to Lullaby, Michael is currently developing a musical that takes place during the summer of 1980, aka the summer of Who Shot JR?
Jeremy B. Cohen is entering his fifth season as the Producing Artistic Director at the Playwrights’ Center and previously served as the Associate Artistic Director/Director of New Play Development at Hartford Stage from 2003 to 2010, where he also directed several premieres. Other directing credits include productions at Centerstage, Alliance, Alley Theatre, Goodman, Dorset Theatre, Steppenwolf, McCarter, Theater J, Victory Gardens, Actors Theatre of Louisville, George Street Playhouse, Kansas City Rep, Repertory Theatre of St Louis, New Victory, Open Fist, Theatre Latté Da, and Royal George; workshops at O’Neill Playwrights’ Conference, New York Stage & Film, Pasadena Playhouse, Denver Center, New Harmony, Bay Area Playwrights Festival and Woolly Mammoth. As Founding Artistic Director of Naked Eye Theatre Company in Chicago, Cohen developed/directed more than 20 plays, including several premieres. He has received numerous directing awards, an NEA/TCG Directors Fellowship, and a Northwestern University grant for his play 12 Volt Heart. Last Season he directed the World Premiere of Brahman/I (Mixed Blood), and Wild With Happy (Centerstage), as well as a new musical Off-Broadway by award-winning singer/songwriter Jonatha Brooke called My Mother Has 4 Noses, and recently directed the World Premiere of Joe Waechter's Lake Untersee (Workhaus Collective/Illusion Theatre).
Jonatha Brooke is a singer and songwriter with four major label releases, and seven on her own label, BAD DOG RECORDS. Her most recent record is the companion CD to her musical play My Mother Has 4 Noses. Ms. Brooke has recently co-written songs with Katy Perry and The Courtyard Hounds for their current releases. She’s also written for three Disney films, various television shows, and composed the theme song for Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse. My Mother Has 4 Noses is her first musical play. She has three other musicals in development: Quadroon, with legendary jazz pianist Joe Sample; Hopper, which just premiered at Adelphi University’s Main Stage, and Death & Venice, both with playwright Anton Dudley. More about 4 Noses at: www.4noses.org. More about Jonatha’s music at: www.jonathabrooke.com or www.facebook.com/jonathabrooke.
Harrison David Rivers’ plays include: When Last We Flew (NYCFringe Excellence in Playwriting Award, GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Off Off Broadway Play), The Bandaged Place (Global Age Project winner), sweet, Look Upon Our Lowliness, THE SEA & THE STARS, The Salvagers, AND SHE WOULD STAND LIKE THIS, Lydie and Where Storms Are Born. He has also written the librettos for The Last Queen of Canaan (music by Jacob Yandura, lyrics by Rebekah Melocik) and FIVE POINTS: An American Musical (music and lyrics by Douglas Lyons & Ethan Pakchar). His short play, And It Seems To Me A Very Good Sign, was produced as part of the 24 Hour Plays at the American Airlines Theater on Broadway. Honors: Many Voices Jerome Fellowship (The Playwrights’ Center), Van Lier Fellowship (New Dramatists), Emerging Artist of Color Fellowship (NYTW), Interstate 73 (P73) and The Emerging Writers’ Group at the Public Theater. Training: MFA, Columbia University.
Jacob Yandura and Rebekah Greer Melocik began collaborating as M.F.A. classmates in New York University’s Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. Their musicals include The Last Queen of Canaan (book by Harrison David Rivers), Feral (book by Victor Lesniewksi) based on John Bishop’s Borderline, and a commission from New York City Children’s Theater, Wringer, based on the novel by Jerry Spinelli. Recognitions and residencies include: the 2014 Johnny Mercer Writers Colony at Goodspeed Musicals, the 2012-2013 Dramatists Guild Fellowship, the Rhinebeck Writers Retreat, the Johnny Mercer Songwriters Project, Cap21's Writers Residency and ANT Fest 2013 (The Fearful Earful). The Last Queen of Canaan received a workshop (dir: Mark Brokaw) in June 2013 through the Yale Institute for Music Theatre, and was part of Northern Stage's New Works Now 2015 Festival. This spring, it will receive a workshop through Theater Latte Da's NEXT development program. Feral received a workshop through the York Theatre Company’s resident writers program, NEO (New, Emerging, Outstanding), in May 2014 and has been selected for development at Ars Nova's two-year UNCHARTED residency. Wringer received a first pass workshop this Fall. Jacob and Rebekah are both members of the artist collective, PVBLIC BATH.
Peter Rothstein has directed 53 mainstage productions for Theater Latté Da, including 8 world premieres. Other recent collaborations include the Guthrie Theater, The Children’s Theatre Company, Minnesota Opera, Illusion Theatre, Ten Thousand Things and Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theater. He is the creator of All Is Calm: The Christmas Truce of 1914, and Steerage Song, a new musical created in collaboration with Dan Chouinard. Peter has been named one of Minnesota’s Artists of the Year by the Star Tribune, Theater Artist of the Year by Lavender, and the Best Director by City Pages. He has been awarded grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Theatre Communications Group, the Minnesota State Arts Board and the McKnight Foundation. He holds a B.A. in Music and Theater from St. John’s University and a Master of Fine Arts in Directing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Peter-Rothstein.com Sanford Moore is perhaps most noted as the founder, director and arranger for the award-winning vocal jazz ensemble Moore By Four. He has traveled extensively with his ensemble doing workshops and concerts in the U.S., Europe and Japan. He has shared the stage with such notable jazz artists as Bobby McFerrin, Harry Connick Jr., the late Dizzy Gillespie, Carmen McRae, Sarah Vaughn and Joe Williams. Moore was the musical director most recently with Penumbra Theatre's production of Dinah Was, Mixed Blood Theatre's production of Two Queens One Castle and Hey City Theatre's production of Smokey Joe's Café. Moore has extensive experience arranging and conducting industrial and business theater productions, as well as writing and producing jingles. He has served as producer, arranger and pianist on various recording projects including Swing Fever, Deck The Halls, I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart: A Tribute to Duke Ellington, I Have Dreamed, Fever, Some Cats Know, and his first solo recording, My First Love: A Collection of Hymns, Gospels and Spirituals. He also serves as minister of music for the Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Minneapolis.
Peter Duchan wrote the book of the musical Dogfight, which premiered at Second Stage (director, Joe Mantello). Dogfight won the 2013 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical and was nominated for five Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Off Broadway Musical and Book of a Musical, and two Drama League Awards, including Broadway or Off Broadway Musical. Dogfight received the 2011 Richard Rodgers Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. Peter co-wrote the screenplays for Breaking Upwards (IFC Films) and the short Unlocked (official selection, Tribeca Film Festival). His play Lavender Scare was presented in Geva Theatre’s 2011 Plays-in-Progress series. Dramatists Guild Fellowship, 2011-2012. Graduate, Northwestern University.
Andrew Russell is the Producing Artistic Director of the Tony Award-winning Intiman Theatre. With a focus on directing stage productions celebrating outsiders and those on the fringe, he conceived and directed Stu for Silverton, a new musical about America’s first transgender mayor heralded as “groundbreaking” and the “best of 2013” by The Seattle Times. In 2014, Russell directed both parts of Tony Kushner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Angels In America for Intiman Theatre. In 2015 Intiman Theatre will premiere a new play, John Baxter is a Switch Hitter, by Andrew and co-author Ana Brown about the 2008 gay softball world series held in Seattle when a team accused another team of having too many “straight” players. Also in 2015 Russell will direct a revival of the one-woman Diana Vreeland show Full Gallop starring Mercedes Ruehl at The Old Globe, and present a workshop presentation of the musical he’s co-writing with Richard Gray for Seattle’s 5th Avenue Theatre about Dorothy Kilgallen, Jack Ruby, Laura Poitras, and Edward Snowden. Andrew served as Tony Kushner’s assistant for many years, has assistant directed on and off-Broadway, and received a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University.
Breedlove Having just appeared as the opening act for Lady Gaga's artRave Tour, Breedlove is an American singer, songwriter, and performance personality. In 2010, Breedlove was invited to open for Semi Precious Weapons on their North American Dirty Showbiz Tour. In 2011, he appeared in Gaga’s HBO special and in her video promotions for the VMA’s that same year. He became the Chief Ambassador for her Born This Way Foundation on the American leg of the associated Born This Way Ball. He is represented by the William Morris Agency for musical theatre writing, and recently provided the music and lyrics for the new musical Stu For Silverton which had a workshop production at Seattle's Intiman Theatre and was included in last year's NAMT festival. For the past 5 years he has produced a popular weekly event called “Magic Monday” at the infamous Rivington Street rock 'n roll dive bar St. Jerome’s, where he performs his latest tunes with his DJ/producer Chew Fu and his dancer Jocelyn McBride. Breedlove’s debut album with Chew Fu, entitled Magic Monday, is currently available for pre-order on iTunes.
Denise Prosek has worked extensively as a music director, pianist, and arranger in the Twin Cities for the past twenty years, including forty mainstage productions for Theater Latté Da. She has also music directed for Children’s Theatre Company, the Guthrie, Park Square, Mu Performing Arts, Ordway Center for the Performing Arts, Hennepin Theatre Trust, and the Ivey Awards, among others. Denise holds a Bachelor of Music from St. Olaf College. She was named a Playwrights’ Center McKnight Theater Artist Fellow in 2013-2014, Outstanding Musical Director in 2006 and 2008 from Star Tribune, Best Music Director in 2010 from Lavender, and Theater Artist of the Year in 2012 from Lavender.
Theater Latté Da is an award-winning Twin Cities musical theater company that combines music and story to illuminate the breadth and depth of the human experience. The company seeks to create new connections between story, music, artists and audience by exploring and expanding the art of musical theater. www.latteda.org