Wednesday, February 5, 2014

New Work in Progress: SLAUGHTERHOUSE-FIVE at University of Miami

An interview with The University of Miami's Henry Fonte about their upcoming developmental production (see listing on right) of Slaughterhouse-Five, with music by Jed Feuer and book and lyrics by Adele Ahroneim, based on the Kurt Vonnegut novel.

How did
Slaughterhouse-Five find its way to the University of Miami?  

Larry Wilker, the former producer at the Arsht Center here in Miami, an old friend, handed it to me and said, “I like this show and I like the people who wrote it. I can’t produce it. Take a look.” I almost fell over when I saw the title. One of my favorite books! But how the hell do you turn it into a musical? And then I read it and listened; and, by George! Jed and Adele really did it! And they kept the essence of the ordinal Vonnegut! I was floored.

Why is this show a great fit for your students and audience?  
Since the show is all about being “unstuck in time,” some characters appear at different stages in their life, and since the play is so presentational and so Brechtian in a way, the ages of the actors are irrelevant. This allows us to use a young cast beautifully, without anyone having to play old. And since we are doing this in our Studio Theatre, the audience is young and hip and expects to see new and even avant-garde work. So it is a perfect fit for us all the way around.

How does the process of this show fit in to the University's mission for training young artists? 

Festival Show Update: MEET JOHN DOE

An update from Andrew Gerle and Eddie Sugarman about their 2005 NAMT Festival show Meet John Doe, based on the Capra film, about the getting the show licensed, recorded and ready to go out into the world.  

There are big new developments for Meet John Doe, and we're so excited to share them with all the NAMT members and our fellow writers. Since the Festival, we've seen several very different productions of the show, and now that it's been licensed by Rodgers & Hammerstein Theatricals, we can't wait to see what other theaters, large and small, do with it. We also just released the cast album on Broadway Records with Heidi Blickenstaff, Jim Moye and Robert Cuccioli (one of Talkin' Broadway's top 10 cast albums of 2013!), which was a huge thrill and an even huger surprise—more on that later.

We're so grateful to NAMT and all the organizations that have helped us along the way, and are very excited that the album will allow many more people to meet John Doe. NAMT was the beginning of a perfect development process for us. At a retreat at TheatreWorks, we were able to write several new songs, and then incorporate them at a workshop at Carousel Dinner Theater. A student production at the Hartt School of Music allowed us to see the show and fine-tune the book, and an extensive rehearsal process at Goodspeed Musicals gave us the opportunity to add another couple of songs and address big-picture issues like pacing and flow.

The process culminated with our world premiere in DC at the Ford's Theater. We swapped out another couple songs for that production, and were overwhelmed by how well the show played for large houses (9 Helen Hayes nominations and 2 wins!). What was maybe most exciting was how much it entertained and moved the Ford's many high school audiences, who had