We’re back with another round of news on the performing arts in New Orleans, and we wish we had more space to cover it all. Read on to find highlights of upcoming theater productions, and classical music and dance performances. The hard part will be deciding how to squeeze in everything you want to catch. As you plan, don’t forget the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival, March 23-27, including Southern Repertory Theatre’s presentation of three recently discovered Williams plays. (See www.TennesseeWilliams.net for tickets.)
Also, creative alert: The deadline for applying to appear in the 2011 New Orleans Fringe Theater Festival is July 1. Keep an eye on www.NOFringe.org for details.
Kathy Finn, editor
‘Scandalous’ and ‘White Noise’ are Chicago-Bound
Two musicals nurtured in New Orleans are soon to find bigger audiences. Covington resident Glyn Bailey’s ambitious musical telling of the life story of D.H. Lawrence made its U.S. debut on the stage of Jefferson Performing Arts Society almost two years ago. With a top-notch score and an international cast led by Broadway’s Bart Shatto, “Scandalous! The Musical” won local acclaim. Later, Bailey and the production’s other two writers, Keith Thomas and Theasa Tuohy, signed a two-year option agreement with local independent producer Wes Payne.
The team has since revised the work “to make it more contemporary,” Bailey says, and talks are under way to present “Scandalous!” in Chicago later this year, which could get the play closer to a hoped-for Broadway engagement.
Meanwhile, Bailey and Thomas are working on another musical based on the story of two British mountain climbers who tackled Mount Everest in the 1920s. Bailey says the work will debut on the JPAS stage next year.
Also edging closer to its producers’ Broadway dream is “White Noise,” a provocative musical that came to Louisiana as one of the first beneficiaries of the state’s live entertainment tax credit program. The work debuted at Le Petit Theatre in 2009 and picked up powerful new support last year when comedienne Whoopi Goldberg signed on as a producer.
The rock drama about two young sisters who are groomed for a music career by a manipulative record producer explores racial hatred in the context of pop culture. The production will begin an eight-week run at Chicago’s Royal George Theatre on April 9, directed and choreographed by Sergio Trujillo, whose recent Broadway credits include Tony Award-winners “Jersey Boys” and “Memphis.” Co-producers are Holly Way, Jay Strommen and Tom Leonardis.
Another Life for ‘Nine Lives’
Another potential candidate for the state’s live entertainment tax credit could arise from a new local music CD that grew out of a book about hurricane-battered New Orleans. “Nine Lives,” a 2009 book by Dan Baum, was the inspiration for a namesake CD by Colman DeKay and Paul Sanchez that features a bevy of New Orleans artists.
Even before the CD’s February release by Mystery Street Records, work was under way to turn the work into a full-blown musical.
“Nine Lives,” the CD, grew out of the grassroots organization called Threadhead, formed by music lovers and Jazz Fest-goers from around the country to help New Orleans musicians after Hurricane Katrina. Says Threadhead founder and California resident Chris Joseph: “What we’re trying to do with the ‘Nine Lives’ project fits into the Threadhead Records mission, which is to continue rebuilding New Orleans one song at a time.”
Off-Stage Drama at Le Petit
New Orleans’ oldest theater remained dark at press time, two years after laying off key personnel and launching a plan aimed at returning the organization to solid footing. For months theater lovers have wondered what’s next for Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré: Will the theater be sold? Will it be dissolved?
Le Petit’s board of directors isn’t releasing details, but board President Cassie Worley says New Orleans has not seen the last of the French Quarter icon. “We are working very hard to have Le Petit up and running as soon as possible … our mission is to present plays,” she says.
Worley says the board is trying to develop “a sustainable model” for the theater. An announcement of plans may come by summer, she says. Meanwhile, a fundraiser will attempt to chip away at Le Petit’s onerous debt, which includes a $700,000 mortgage. Film and theater stars Patricia Clarkson and Bryan Batt will headline the event on March 18 and 20.
Worley says a portion of funds raised will go toward operating costs, including compensation of a development director and assistant who are “taking care of the theater” and showing it to prospective event renters. The theater will host the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival in March.