Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Every Rapture Musical [2010]

[K. Jones]

Everyday Rapture, Dick Scanlan and Sherie Rene Scott's well-reviewed 2009 Off-Broadway musical — part satire of showbiz ego and part rueful examination of an artist's roots — opened on Broadway April 29. It's officially the final show of the 2009-10 Broadway season.

Previews began April 19 at the American Airlines Theatre. Roundabout Theatre Company fast-tracked Everyday Rapture, starring Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Tony Award nominee Scott, to replace its recently scuttled Broadway production of Lips Together, Teeth Apart.

The limited engagement is scheduled through July 11 and is Roundabout's final show of the 2009-10 season.

Tony winner Michael Mayer (Spring Awakening) directed Everyday Rapture in 2009, and returns to stage the production. This is the second music-infused Broadway show with Mayer at the helm this season; his American Idiot opened April 20.

Scott (also of Broadway's Aida and The Little Mermaid and Off-Broadway's The Last Five Years) starred in the scripted concept-concert-like show — in which she played a hyper-theatrical version of her own persona — at Off-Broadway's Second Stage Theatre in spring 2009. Her earlier castmates Eamon Foley (13), Lindsay Mendez (Grease, The Marvelous Wonderettes) and Betsy Wolfe (110 in the Shade) join her on Broadway. (Riley Costello and Natalie Weiss are the understudies.)

The Roundabout-presented musical is billed as the "Second Stage Theatre production of" Everyday Rapture.

The hard-to-define meta-theatrical show mixes pathos with absurd humor and draws from an eclectic pop songlist: Expect songs written by Fred Rogers (of "Mister Rogers Neighborhood"), Tim Rice & Elton John, David Byrne, Harry Nilsson, Harold Arlen & Ted Koehler, Charles Fox & Norman Gimbel, Johnny Mercer & Harry Warren, Gabriel Alexander Roth, Tom Waits, David Byrne and more.

The show tells of Scott's character (a Mennonite-raised Kansas native) finding a home in the theatre after a spiritual search marked by personal loss and existential questions.

It's characterized by Roundabout as "a young woman's psycho-sexual-spiritual journey on the rocky path that separates her mostly Mennonite past from her mostly Manhattan future." The show has been developed in benefits, concerts and rehearsals since 2006; at one time it was called You May Now Worship Me.

After the Second Stage run last year, Scanlan and Scott had a list of storytelling questions they wanted to address if and when the show took its next step. The step, it turns out, took a year.

Theatregoers digesting incidents in the loose show — Scanlan prefers "organic" to "loose" — might ask, "Did that really happen to Scott?" The collaborators have kept mostly mum about what's real and what's created about the "character" on stage.

"Once we've written it down as part of the play, it became distinct from Sherie's life, even if it's exactly what happened," Scanlan told in between recent rehearsals. "We're looking at it as a 'theatrical journey' as opposed to whatever it actually meant in Sherie's life. So Sherie and I sometimes have conversations about her life — and those are very personal, beautiful conversations — or we have conversations about our play. Some of the events might be the same, but the tenor of the conversation is very, very different.

"If you've ever taken a fiction workshop, a lot of times you'll be criticizing someone's story and saying, 'It just wasn't believable or it didn't move me,' and the person will use as a defense, 'Well, that's what really happened.' And, of course, my response is, 'I'm so not interested in what really happened, it's not moving me in its present form.' When we're working on this show…when we're focusing on whether a particular event was an event that happened or not…we're always asking ourselves, 'Is this the most compelling, humorous, surprising, truthful…way of communicating this event in a theatrical context?'"

The character in the spotlight is Sherie Rene, but how much essence of Dick Scanlan is in the show, and how much essence of Sherie Rene Scott?

Scanlan explained, "There's a lot of me in the fundamental issue [of the show], which is an extraordinary hunger to be self-expressive and to be celebrated for my self-expression; then a simultaneous feeling that the hunger is wrong, is bad. That somehow honoring my spirit will rob me of my soul. I have that exact same fear. I don't come from a Mennonite background but I have the same issues. And yes, there are a few incidents in the piece that happened in my life."

He added, "The ambivalence that the character is trying to reconcile through the journey of the play, that is completely an issue of Sherie's: The 'world was created for me' vs. 'I am a speck of dust' dilemma is Sherie's core dilemma."

The Everyday Rapture creative team includes choreographer Michele Lynch, orchestrator and arranger Tom Kitt (a Tony Award winner and Pulitzer Prize winner for Next to Normal), music supervisor Michael Rafter and music director Marco Paguia. The design team includes Christine Jones (sets), Tom Broecker (costumes), Kevin Adams (lights), Brian Ronan (sound) and Darrel Maloney (projections).

The Sh-K-Boom Records/Ghostlight cast album was released on iTunes, at and at the American Airlines Theatre on April 27.

Here is the track list for the release:

01. The Other Side Of This Life (Overture) - Lindsay Mendez; Betsy Wolfe
02. Got A Thing On My Mind - Sherie Rene Scott
03. Elevation - Sherie Rene Scott; Lindsay Mendez; Betsy Wolfe
04. On The Atchison, Topeka And The Santa Fe - Sherie Rene Scott
05. Get Happy - Sherie Rene Scott
06. You Made Me Love You - Sherie Rene Scott
07. Mr. Rogers Medley (It's Such A Good Feeling, Everybody's Fancy, I Like To Be Told) - Sherie Rene Scott; Lindsay Mendez; Betsy Wolfe
08. It's You I Like - Sherie Rene Scott
09. I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City - Sherie Rene Scott
10. Life Line - Sherie Rene Scott
11. The Weight - Sherie Rene Scott; Lindsay Mendez; Betsy Wolfe
12. Rainbow Sleeves - Sherie Rene Scott
13. Why - Sherie Rene Scott
14. Won't You Be My Neighbor? - Sherie Rene Scott
15. Up The Ladder To The Roof - Sherie Rene Scott; Lindsay Mendez; Betsy Wolfe
16. Remember - Sherie Rene Scott
17. Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth) - Sherie Rene Scott

Enjoy and have a nice day.

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