It’s a “sci-fi fantasy musical” about Marie Antoinette and her adventures on a time-traveling hot-air balloon. It’s also the show that left Dallas critics breathless during its workshop run in 2012, winding up on numerous end-of-year best-show lists. On the Eve combines a fantastical book by actor Michael Federico, performances by some of the area’s top acting talent, and a driving rock score by Home by Hovercraft, a local band known for its theatrical bent. How theatrical? Its lead singer, Seth Magill, also plays Eve’s hero Chase Spacegrove, while Magill’s wife, Shawn, music-directs on keyboard.
Theatre Three, a Dallas company founded in 1961 to do innovative work, is staging the musical’s official premiere. It runs Jan. 16–Feb. 9, with director Jeffrey Schmidt (a T3 artistic associate) once again at the helm, along with most of the workshop cast. “On the Eve is a terrific example of an ‘artist’s project’—something originated by an independent conglomerate of actors, writers and musicians that needed a home,” says Jac Alder, Theatre Three’s executive producer/director and founding member.
The show’s plot poses serious questions about politics and class warfare as it flits through time, from the French Revolution to modern day to a post-apocalyptic world. “We started out just wanting to write about the first hot-air balloon, but with the trick of making it a time machine,” says Federico. “Then we got interested in looking at what happens right before major shifts, whether those stem from invention, romance or revolution. Everyone in the show is in some state of revolt, because they believe things can and should be better.”
The rock score also doubles as Home by Hovercraft’s debut album, titled Are We Chameleons?, and it works as a stand-alone record and as a character-driven score. As Shawn Magill explains, “We wanted the songs to shed light on our characters with introspective or declarative moments, versus always moving the plot forward physically.”
Federico characterizes On the Eve this way: “If you love Threepenny Opera and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure as much as I do, you’re eventually going to combine them.”
To listen to songs from On the Eve, visit www.tcg.org/americantheatre.