Yesterday I went to a matinee at ACT (American Conservatory Theater) of Kander and Ebb’s last collaboration before Fred Ebb’s death, the musical THE SCOTTSBOROUGH BOYS, in a production directed and choreographed by Tony Award winner Susan Stroman.
Based on the notorious series of trials that began in 1931 in Alabama where nine innocent African-American boys, ranging in age between 13 and 17 were convicted of raping two white women, the audacious conceit of the production is to present it in the style of a minstrel show.
The impact was devastating.
The production was seen on Broadway last year, and was well received by the critics, but never found an audience and abruptly closed.
I had missed it in New York, so felt lucky to have the opportunity of catching up with it in San Francisco!
The performances were all excellent, with many of the cast assuming multiple roles to tell the story of this grotesque miscarriage of justice. The deceptively simple set was designed by Beowulf Boritt, who designed the wonderful set for our production of THE LIGHTHOUSE in March at the Dallas Theater Center. I say “deceptively simple” because it is astonishingly clever and earned Beowulf a Tony nomination.
The piece is wonderfully well written and really packs a wallop. I was deeply moved by it. It is certainly not a “feel good” musical but it was a powerful afternoon of great music theater.
Last night was a wonderful production of John Adams’ first opera NIXON IN CHINA. I have been fortunate enough to see Peter Sellars’ production both in Houston and at the Metropolitan Opera, as well as James Robinson’s production in Saint Louis and at Opera Colorado. This production, staged by Michael Cavanagh and designed by Erhard Rom, was originally created for the Vancouver Opera, and utilized a lot more projections than the other productions, and was very imaginatively done by a terrific group of singing actors.
The cast was headed up by baritone Brian Mulligan who was extremely effective as Richard Nixon, and two singers well known to Dallas audiences, Maria Kanyova as Pat Nixon and Patrick Carfizzi as Henry Kissinger.
Maria was a very touching “Pat” (a role which she has recorded on CD) and reveals a very different side of her artistry than Dallas audiences saw in her “Mimi” in BOHEME or “Nedda” in PAGLIACCI. Patrick also displayed remarkable versatility as “Kissinger” —a far cry from his endearing “Papageno” in our recent MAGIC FLUTE.
I flew back to Dallas early this morning, and after such an event filled weekend of meetings, performances and auditions in San Francisco, I somehow managed to sleep through almost the entire flight!