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Read about I SING THE RISING SEA, an original new musical.

Read about TOKIO CONFIDENTIAL, an original new musical.

Read about FROG KISS, an unlikely musical romance.

Read about THE CIVIL WAR: THE SOUTH CAROLINA BLACK REGIMENT, a musical theater piece for young adults.

 

I SING THE RISING SEA
Virginia Stage Company is presenting the world premiere of I SING THE RISING SEA, a musical about science, poetry, love and climate change. It's a sweeping epic of nature's power to connect people-- from emperors to errand boys, to poets and scientists --across generations and the boundaries of race and time, from the shores of Virginia to Fukushima, Japan and the Dry Valleys of Antarctica, where the answer to it all awaits.

The production, commissioned by Virginia Stage Company, received funding from The Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Science & Technology Project and the National Endowment for the Arts. For more information about tickets, please visit www.vasage.com/risingsea.

Read more about the musical in the Virginian Pilot, which called it "the kind of adventure that live theater should be," and in Veer Magazine.

Listen to interviews on WHRO Public Radio's HearSay with Cathy Lewis and Another View's Lisa Godley, who calls it "a wonderful story with a beautiful musical score."

Photos from the production appear below.

Tavon Olds-Sample and Jonathan Burke (Photo: Sam Flint)

Charles Browning and Rona Figueroa (Photo: Sam Flint)

Alan Ariano and Rona Figueroa (Photo: Sam Flint)

Betsy DiLellio (Photo: Sam Flint)

Anthony Stockard and Maurice Murphy (Photo: Sam Flint)

Jonathan Burke and Rona Figueroa (Photo: Sam Flint)

Alan Ariano (Photo: Sam Flint)

 

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TOKIO CONFIDENTIAL
Tokio Confidential, is an original music-theater piece about an American Civil War widow who journeys to Japan in 1879. While there, she falls in love with a renowned Japanese tattoo artist who, by drawing on her entire body and turning her into a work of art, unwittingly puts her life in danger.

Tokio Confidential played Atlantic Stage 2 in Manhattan in February 2012. The production was directed by Johanna McKeon and Choreographed by Tricia Brouk. For a complete list of the creative team and cast, please visit www.tokioconfidential.com

The New York Times said, "Tokio Confidential has plenty to recommend it, not least a plush, inviting score."

The New York Post said, “This lovely chamber musical about a Civil War widow whose life’s transformed by a tattoo artist reveals Eric Schorr, its composer/librettist, as a talent to watch. The romance between the central characters is touchingly etched. Running through it all are Schorr’s elegant score and graceful lyrics.”

Broadway Records recently released a recording of the show featuring Jill Paice, Jeff Kready, Jose Llana, Telly Leung, Bruce Warren and Manna Nichols. Edge Media Network said of the recording, "Schorr's score is rich with depth and meaning. It engages classical forms to create gentle melodies but its style is firmly rooted in contemporary musical theatre. It is beautiful."

To watch a brief video click here.

Photos from the production appear below.

Mel Maghuyop, Jill Paice and Benjamin McHugh (Photo: Ellis Gaskell)

Austin Ku, Jeff Kready, Jill Paice, Mel Maghuyop and Manna Nichols (Photo: Ellis Gaskell)

Mel Maghuyop and Jill Paice (Photo: Ellis Gaskell)

Mel Maghuyop and Manna Nichols (Photo: Ellis Gaskell)

Mel Maghuyop and Jeff Kready (Photo: Ellis Gaskell)

 

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FROG KISS
Some women marry princes. Some women marry frogs. In this wacky, romantic and adult spin on the classic Grimm fairytale, a kingdom in Renaissance France is in chaos-- a Princess has met a frog she is determined to turn into a Prince. Is the charming, intelligent, talking frog just a freak of Nature? Will the Princess transform him into the Prince of her dreams? Or will she find herself in bed with a frog? When a troupe of tap-dancing Taoist monks arrives, they set into motion magical events which they hope will re-balance the ying and yang of the kingdom, transform a frog into a prince and put the princess in touch with her inner frog.

Frog Kiss premiered at the Virignia Stage Company's Wells Theatre in January 2013. Previously it had been selected as one of twelve new musicals to be part of the 2010 New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF)'s Next Link Project. For more information on Virginia Stage Company's production, visit its website. For more information about the NYMF production, visit the Festival website.

Frog
Prince

Hanley Smith and Curtis Holbrook at NYMF (Photo: Ellis Gaskell)

 

To watch an interview with Frog Kiss Producer, Tamara Tunie, click here.

To follow Frog Kiss on Facebook click here.

And visit the Frog Kiss website at
http://www.frogkissthemusical.com

 

SEE WHAT THE PRESS HAS TO SAY...

The Virginian-Pilot says, "A grown-up version of the princess and her would-be prince, debuts at the Wells Theatre with dreams of hopping to Broadway."
Read the full article.

VEER Magazine says, "Brilliant, boundlessly energetic, buoyant, exuberant, and beautiful in manifold ways, the Virginia Stage Company's world premiere of Frog Kiss is exemplary of the artistry and entertainment of musical theatre."
Read the full review.

New York Concert Review Inc. says, "...it is hard to imagine anything more fun or memorable stemming from this festival..."
Read the full review.

Theatermania says, "Eric Schorr's catchy, jazz-infused score keeps toes a tappin' -- especially those of the actors!"
Read the full review.

Adaumbelle's Quest says, "Sometimes you just need a fun and comical musical to take you away..."
Read the full review.

 

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THE CIVIL WAR: THE SOUTH CAROLINA BLACK REGIMENT is inspired by events surrounding the formation of the first Black regiment of the Civil War. Historical figures and events intertwine with new songs and traditional spirituals to tell this original story of Kofi, a brave young African-American boy and his quest for freedom.

On March 3, 1859 in Savannah, Georgia, 436 slaves were sold at a massive auction, henceforth known as “The Weeping Time.” Kofi, a young slave boy, is separated from his mother and shipped to St. Helena, South Carolina to work on a cotton plantation. As news spreads of the coming Civil War, Kofi and his friend Sam Samson seize on the opportunity for escape.

Following a perilous journey to the Sea Islands, the two encounter Colonel Thomas Higginson, who is enlisting contraband slaves for the First South Carolina Volunteers, the first regiment of Black soldiers in the Union Army. Promised freedom upon the war's completion, Kofi and Sam sign up to fight for liberty, and to reunite Kofi with his family.

Higginson and his men face many obstacles. There are some in Washington who doubt the Black soldiers' competency, refusing to allow the regiment to bear arms or wear Union Blue. However, they do allow Higginson to send for the African-American teacher, Charlotte Forten. She arrives from Philadelphia determined to teach Kofi and the soldiers to read and write, and to prepare them for freedom.

The musical follows the stories of Kofi, Colonel Higginson and Charlotte Forten as they fight for liberty, recognition, and education, so that they, and all future generations of Americans, can be, to quote Abraham Lincoln, “forever free.”

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THE CIVIL WAR: THE SOUTH CAROLINA BLACK REGIMENT

Fighting a War on Two Fronts
By Laurel Graeber
February 4, 2005

Although most children learn about slavery in elementary school, probably few are aware that the victims of the institution also helped end it. With the exception of the 1989 film “Glory” (rated R and largely seen by an older audience), the entertainment industry has been singularly silent about black Union soldiers.

Now Theaterworks/USA has stepped into the breach with the musical “The Civil War: The South Carolina Black Regiment.” But don't let the idea of a musical make you cringe. While Eric Schorr, the composer and lyricist, has included an upbeat martial tune and celebratory dance, his score also communicates suffering and intense yearning.

Tanya Barfield, who wrote the book, opens the action in 1857 with a huge slave auction at which Kofi, the central character, is just a boy. His mother tries to arrange his escape and fails. The two are separated in a heart-wrenching scene, and years later, Kofi (Dondi Rollins Jr.) runs away from a Sea Island plantation, taking Sam (David Hughes), his friend and mentor, with him. They eagerly join the fledgling black regiment, only to discover, as the secretary of war notes in a harsh letter to their white commander, Col. Thomas Higginson (a nonfictional character played by Tim Noland), that they are “still Negroes, not equals”

To Ms. Barfield's credit, she neither minimizes the men's sometimes degrading experiences nor makes Kofi into a paragon of idealism. Impetuous and impatient, he rejects lessons from Charlotte (Tiffany Shepherd), a free woman teaching the black troops to read. More dangerously, his resentment of his past threatens to overwhelm his judgment. Although the show ends with the happy news of the Emancipation Proclamation, Kofi's journey to maturity comes at a sobering price.

Directed by Jesse Berger, “The Civil War” movingly presents a historical landscape that is populated not by heroes, but by flawed yet still heroic human beings.

Copyright 2005 by The New York Times Co.
Reprinted with permission.

 

TheatreworksUSA delves into Civil War story
New musical tells an emotional tale about a slave regiment fighting for the North.
By Ellyce Field / Special to The Detroit News
Friday, January 14, 2005

When TheatreworksUSA asked Eric Schorr and Tanya Barfield to write a children’s play about the Civil War, Schorr says he thought of all the generic things they knew about the war. But generic isn’t what he wanted to write.

“We wanted to find a fresh, emotional story that hadn’t been told before, and we didn’t want it too preachy or educational,” says Schorr, who wrote the music and lyrics in collaboration with author Barfield for TheatreworksUSA's original musical, “The Civil War: The South Carolina Black Regiment.” The play opens at the Youtheatre at the Millennium Centre on Saturday.

“We found a story about the sea islands off the coast of Charleston, S.C., where the first black slave regiment was formed, the South Carolina Black Regiment. It was an amazing story because the North captured these islands early in the war. All the soldiers in the regiment were still slaves since it was before Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation,” he explains.

Focusing on Kofi, a fictional slave on one of the sea island plantations, and Kofi's doomed relationship with his friend Sam, Schorr and Barfield weaved a coming of age story. They also include historical figures such as Col. Thomas Higginson, a Massachusetts abolitionist who becomes the regiment’s leader, and Charlotte Forten, a free black woman who arrives from Philadelphia to teach the troops to read and write.

The set is minimal, and six actors play multiple roles, allowing TheatreworksUSA to subtly inspire children to use their imaginations. Along with the actors, the audience creates the Charleston slave auction, Sea Island plantation, the regiment's drilling and Civil War battles.

“This is a total musical from start to finish," Schorr says. "I've mixed indigenous Gullah music from the islands, like spirituals, with Civil War fight songs and period songs.”

Schorr has been in the audience and watched the play many times. Each time, he is astonished to find himself crying along with the rest of the adults.

“The kids just sit completely silent," he says. "They don't even realize they are absorbing history while they are so engrossed.”

Ellyce Field is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.
You can reach her at frannyzoe@aol.com.
Copyright 2005 by The Detroit News.
Reprinted with permission.

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