I've been meaning to write for the longest time, but I've been consumed with preparations for the Off-Broadway production of “The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World”. There's not only a ton of work to finish writing the play and the orchestrations, but being away from home so much means making sure there are people to fill in my job of stay-at-home-after-school dad. We've got a wonderful cadre of expert caregivers lined up, and my lovely and energetic wife will be doling out extra hugs and love, while I visit my family every evening via Skype. I'm going to miss them something horrible. But I have a feeling I'll be so deeply engrossed in my work in NY that the heartache and homesickness will only creep in at night.
So, have you bought your tickets yet? Previews start May 11 and run to June 6, opening night is June 7 and then it runs to July 3. This is a historic, first-ever co-production of Playwrights Horizons (Sunday in the Park With George, Assassins, Grey Gardens) and The New York Theatre Workshop (ever hear of “Rent”?). The cast is, whoa, so totally loaded with amazing talent. Tony Award nominee and Obie Award winner Peter Friedman (Ragtime and PH's Circle Mirror Transformation, After the Revolution and The Heidi Chronicles). Kevin Cahoon's credits include Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and Roundabout's The Foreigner (for which he was Lortel Award-nominated). Annie Golden was featured in PH's Assassins and People Be Heard, and in Broadway's Xanadu and The Full Monty; she was Jeannie in the film "Hair." Steve Routman's resume includes Broadway's Broadway and Off-Broadway's The Fantasticks and Shmulnik's Waltz. The three Wiggin sisters are played by amazing young actresses - Jamey Hood, Sarah Sokolovic, and Emily Walton. And as Kyle, young up-and-comer Cory Michael Smith makes his PH debut.
And the band? Whoa, again - Aaron Gandy is playing piano, organ and Music Directing, Leroy Bach (Wilco, Beth Orton) will play guitars and small keyboards, Dave Hilliard (David Byrne, Dan Zanes) bangs drums, and, on bass, the fabulous Toobee Determined.
Hey, I don't blow smoke about the things I do. I mean, yeah, I talk things up and try to keep you all interested, but when I tell you I'm proud of something I'm doing, it's because I really think it's good. Of all the things I do and have done, this play is very close to my heart. It's powerful, it's deep, it's funny, it's sad. It rings bells that I didn't know could be rung. I am awestruck at how moving this has turned out to be. I was/am lifted by it all.
If you're near NY, you owe it to yourself to come see it. If you're thinking about coming from out of town, now's the time to buy a train or plane ticket and dig around for digs. And, while I may be insanely busy re-writing the overture or changing the keys of all the songs, chances are I'll be around, so don't fail to try and get in touch while you're in town.
Oh, and if you're around NY on April 17 and 18, come to the Guggenheim Museum, where I'll be on display along with my co-creators, being interviewed and offering bits and pieces of the musical performed by our cast. 7:30 pm.
Love and blessings to you all,