April Onstage / LATE IN THE EVENING and BOOK OF MORMON
Highlights from MusicalFare and Shea's
Zak Ward as Duncan and Noah Bielecki as The Boy
Image courtesy of Musicalfare
Late in the Evening
Opens April 24 at MusicalFare
Director: Michael Walline
Cast: Zak Ward, Noah Bielecki, Dominique Kempf, Dudney Joseph, Robert Mazierski, Terrie George, Elijah Vasquez, Britini D’Angelo
Paul Simon fans are in for a treat when MusicalFare premieres Late in the Evening, a character journey through Simon’s music conceived, written, directed, and choreographed by Michael Walline. “As a choreographer, my main language to tell a story is dance, so this show is told through song and dance, without dialogue,” previews Walline. “It’s about love and loss and the idea that everyone has a backstory.”
More specifically, the story follows Duncan (Zak Ward), a homeless man at the end of his rope who is visited in his sleep by a boy who takes him on a journey of his memories. Duncan’s only worldly possessions are his guitar and photos of the people he has loved. “Paul Simon’s music is so character-based that it was a perfect vehicle to tell the story of this man who has been living in my head,” says Walline, noting that the show only contains Simon’s solo work.
Walline started with the artist’s catalog, viewing it almost as a puzzle, fitting the song pieces into the story he’s written. For example, “Call Me Al” is sung by Dudney Joseph while characters are in basic training, and “Graceland” is sung a capella on a plane going into a war zone.
Walline was still tweaking the show in workshops earlier this year when he was inspired by the lovely words written by a woman whose brother, Larry, a well-known Williamsville homeless man, died during the January cold snap. Walline was struck by the idea that everybody has love and loss we’re unaware of.
“I remember being in a very dark place as a young adult, and my dad saying to me ‘What’s the difference between a grave and a rut?’ and then he’d extend his hand and say, ‘Someone can always get you out of a rut,’” Walline recalls. “This show hopefully may help someone realize that someone they know is in a rut, or needs help, or needs a guardian angel.”
Book of Mormon
Opens April 30
1) Synopsis: Two naive Mormon missionaries visit a remote Ugandan village, and, as they try to convert the locals, the reality of the war-torn Third World (famine, poverty) sets in.
2) If you want a feel for this show’s irreverent humor, consider its book writers are South Park’s Matt Stone and Trey Parker (also behind Orgazmo and Cannibal! The Musical!) and music/lyrics are by Avenue Q’s Robert Lopez.
3) Book of Mormon began development after Parker and Stone saw Avenue Q in 2003. Lopez’s Q co-creator Jeff Marx was involved at the start, but creative differences between Marx and Parker led to Marx’s separation from the project. The show took nearly eight years to complete.
4) Mormon producers, including the Broadway ubiquitous Scott Rudin, chose to premiere the show direct to Broadway in 2011. It came in two million under budget and was an instant, record-breaking hit that took home nine Tonys and continues to run to full houses.
5) When the show premiered, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints announced: “The production may attempt to entertain audiences for an evening, but the Book of Mormon as a volume of Scripture will change people’s lives forever by bringing them closer to Christ.” Later, it purchased ads in the show program.
6) What they said: “This is to all the doubters and deniers out there, the ones who say that heaven on Broadway does not exist, that it’s only some myth our ancestors dreamed up. I am here to report that a newborn, old-fashioned, pleasure-giving musical has arrived at the Eugene O’Neill Theater, the kind our grandparents told us left them walking on air if not on water. —Ben Brantley, New York Times, 2011