Ever been in a band? No? By the time you finish reading Rob Weinert-Kendt’s expansive, richly informed cover story, “It’s Better with a Band,” you’ll feel as though you’ve finally teamed up with that rock group you once aspired to organize and pumped out the garage musical that will carry you to theatrical fame. Overstatement? Well, at least you’ll have gotten inside the heads of an array of remarkable contemporary musical talents who’ve reached the heights you fantasized about in those moments—we all had them, right?—when music, whether Bo Diddley or Bach, first sent your imagination into overdrive.
Music fans will also appreciate the grace notes of Matthew Sigman’s equally sophisticated feature account of a classical-music initiative that will nourish our stages in coming months (“Spring Fever”). While you’re in a tuneful mood, check out reporter Edward Karam’s visit with composer William Finn in the Berkshires, where he’s mentoring new work; reports on musical-theatre development initiatives in Connecticut and Missouri, plus a Sondheim-inspired touring concert series (News in Brief); a close-up on a new production of Aida in the Twin Cities; and a candid back-page conversation with Chicago composer, sound designer and music director Kevin O’Donnell.
The press releases keep coming, detailing a wealth of musical-theatre activity that will set U.S. audiences’ toes tapping in the coming month:
- Stuck Elevator premieres April 4 at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater (music by Byron Au Yong, libretto by Aaron Jafferis). Chay Yew directs the story of a Chinese deliveryman trapped in a Bronx elevator for 81 hours.
- Zorro begins performances April 3 at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre. There’ll be flamenco dancing, sword-fighting, stage magic and elaborate stunts in this new American adaptation of a West End hit, featuring songs by the Gipsy Kings.
- All the King’s Men opens April 17 at Swine Palace in the city that helped inspire the Pulitzer-winning novel, Baton Rouge, La. This musical version of Adrian Hall’s venerable adaptation, featuring songs by Randy Newman, was first seen in 2007 at Rhode Island’s Trinity Repertory Company.
- Here Lies Love premieres April 2 at New York City’s Public Theater. Icons David Byrne and Fatboy Slim set their account of the rise and fall of Imelda Marcos of the Philippines in a 360-degree dance club environment.
- Being Earnest takes off April 3 at TheatreWorks in California’s Silicon Valley. Composers Paul Gordon and Jay Gruska update Oscar Wilde’s classic comedy to mod London of 1964.
- This Side of Paradise is launched April 20 by St. Paul, Minn.’s History Theatre (following its Off-Broadway debut). Composer Nancy Harrow’s jazz score tracks the highs and lows of the Twin Cities’ own “it” couple, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.
Is it better with a band? Maybe sometimes. The more pointed lesson of this musically fecund month is that the grand old tradition of American musical theatre is alive with adventure and reinvention. The beat goes on.