Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Red Sox musical, an update

I've gotten a dozen or so hits (pun intended) recently from people searching for information about the Boston Red Sox musical in the lineup at Cambridge's American Repertory Theater.

So I figure with spring training just around the corner, it's time for an update.

The musical begins previews May 14 and runs through June 27 at the Loeb Drama Center. When I first wrote about the show, it was called Red Sox Nation. The name's been changed to Johnny Baseball. (I like the old name better but sadly, no one asked for my opinion.)

The story, described as "an exhilarating blend of fact, fiction and the mystical power of the game," spans the years from 1919 to 2004, when the Red Sox broke the Curse of the Bambino to win the World Series after an 86-year drought.

At its heart is a romance between white baseball player Johnny O'Brien, a hard-luck right-hander on the 1919 Sox, and Daisy Wyatt, a dazzling black jazz singer. Their son is kept out of the major leagues because of his skin color. (The Red Sox were the last team to integrate.)

The creative team is the same: playwright Richard Dresser, who penned the Beach Boys jukebox musical Good Vibrations, is writing the book. Music and lyrics are by brothers Robert Reale and Willie Reale, who collaborated on the score for A Year with Frog and Toad.

Robert Reale said this week on Twitter that auditions have wrapped up and they've made several casting offers. Scott Pask is designing the set. Also on board are lighting designer Donald Holder and costume designer Michael McDonald.

There's an extensive interview with the Dresser and the Reale brothers on the A.R.T. Web site. Clearly, big themes are in play here.

"One of the things that drew us to this project was the idea that this whole region of the country was following this one team so closely and getting consistently defeated in these inspired, tragic ways," Dresser says. "In fact, we always spoke about this musical as a kind of Greek tragedy."

I like the combination of baseball lore, American history and love story. It's encouraging that Diane Paulus, the A.R.T's artistic director, will be directing the musical. She helmed the Tony-winning Broadway revival of Hair, one of my favorite shows of 2009.

Here's a clip of Paulus talking about the show when it was still called Red Sox Nation:

Update: The cast has been announced and it includes Stephanie Umoh, who was in the short-lived Ragtime revival on Broadway, as Daisy Wyatt; Colin Donnell as Johnny O'Brien; and Burke Moses as Babe Ruth.


Linda said...

I hadn't heard of this. I might have to go to Boston to see it (I haven't been in a while anyway). It sounds like a big undertaking--1919 to 2004 is a long span of time to cover in a musical--but I love Diane Paulus.

Esther said...

Yeah, I was so impressed by what Diane Paulus did with Hair. It was fun yet very poignant. She gave it a sense of history yet made the musical seem so timely.

I agree it is a big span of time but I guess they want to portray the "Curse" in its entirety, from the beginning to the Red Sox winning the World Series.

Anyway, let me know when you're thinking of coming!