Wednesday, July 23, 2014

New Work in Progress: NINE WIVES

An interview with John Simpkins, Artistic Director of SharonPlayhouse, about their upcoming production of Nine Wives with music and lyrics by Douglas J. Cohen (Barnstormer, Fest '08; Glimmerglass, Fest '00; The Gig, Fest '94) and book and lyrics by Dan Elish.

Based on the novel Nine Wives by Dan Elish, this new musical tells the story of Henry Mann, a 32-year-old bachelor who discovers that the love of his life has met someone new and is about to get married. What's worse, he's been invited to her wedding! What follows are Henry's frantic attempts to find a woman he can take as his date – a potential future wife – to prove to his ex-fiancée (and the world) that he too is ready to move on.
How did Nine Wives find its way to Sharon Playhouse?
I had seen a reading of the show a few years ago and really enjoyed it. It had always been on my radar – and then Jayson Raitt, one of the producers on the show, approached me and wondered if it might be a nice fit for Sharon. I had worked with Dan Elish before…and I’ve admired Doug Cohen’s work for years. It seemed like a great fit to join their team. They had done quite a bit of really good work on the story since I had seen the reading and we had a terrific meeting about the things they wanted to accomplish with a developmental production in Sharon.
What drew you to this story?
I have a tendency to really fall for stories about the everyman. The protagonist, Henry, is one of those people who rarely shows up in musicals. He is, as he describes himself “a perfectly acceptable athlete, an excellent musician, passably good-looking, and disease free.” He just happens, like many people, to not be able to find someone with whom he clicks enough to have a real relationship. I tend to connect as a human with characters who are in the kind of turmoil that regular people experience in their life.   

Why is the show a good fit for your mission and audience? 

Festival Show Update: THE CIRCUS IN WINTER

This month, we check in with Ben Clark, composer and lyricist of 2012 Festival show The Circus in Winter, as he prepares for its premiere this October at Goodspeed Musicals. 

Meeting an elephant can change a man’s life. The Circus in Winter is a folk/rock musical inspired by the novel by Cathy Day, where legend and lore collide under the big top filled with disheveled hustlers, death-defying acrobats and a dreamer named Wallace Porter searching for redemption and grace. 

A lot has been happening with the show since it was in the Festival. The biggest change is that Hunter Foster (Summer of '42, Fest '99) has joined the team as a bookwriter. Why did you bring on a bookwriter and what drew you and the rest of the team to Hunter? 
Bringing Hunter on is a huge plus for us. We chose Hunter because we feel he can take the feel and spirit of the score, as well as the language of the source material, to give the piece a unified voice. Within the conversations about our first professional run, he agreed with a lot of feelings we had moving forward in regards to creative team, and was able to open some doors to benefit our creative process.

You've also made some changes to the score and story. What changes are you most excited about?