John Walker: The Musical, subtitled The Adventures of the American Taliban, is a comic and dramatic look at the story of the young American snagged by U.S. Armed Forces in Afghanistan and viewed as a traitor.
Laura Wagner directs the show, which has book, music and lyrics by Jean Strong and John McCloskey and choreography by Phil Stambaugh. Five performances are offered to Aug. 29 at The Michael Schimmel Center for the Performing Arts at Pace University, 3 Spruce Street (east of Park Row, at the corner of Gold Street).
Brad Bauner, Tom Escovar, J. Edward Cecala and Keith Kiya Wilson present the new work, billed as "an emotional and musical roller coaster both insanely funny and dramatically gripping."
John Walker: The Musical "explores the events that drove a boy from his comfortable home in Northern California to civil war-torn Afghanistan, and straight on into a media firestorm. This groundbreaking new rock and-roll black comedy tracks John Walker...as he escapes the clutches of a pervy power-hungry government official named E.D. during a spectacular anti-terror event in Times Square. With the aid of a vain hack reporter named Bob, John Walker dashes across the U.S. in a desperate search for a crusading whistleblower named Jessie, a woman who has the secret documents that could exonerate him."
Co-authors Jean Strong and John McCloskey began writing the play and music in the months after Sept. 11, 2001. "John Walker is probably the most vilified public figure of the last 50 years," Strong said in production notes. "We spotted him for what he was, a rich source for tragi comedy, right off the bat, and we started writing the songs almost by reflex. With the fear of another terrorist attack, and with the nation being asked to be patriotic no matter how idiotic the government's rhetoric, we started to create the show. John Walker: The Musical is the result."
The cast includes Valerie Clift, Josh Fiedler, Ginger Kroll, Amy McKee, L. J. Mitchell, Brian Reilly, Brian Charles Rooney, Scoop Slone and Sarah Vidal.
Musical direction is by Jonathan K. Waller. Designers are Carolina Blaedh (costume), Andrew Hill (lighting) and Tim Mathes (sound). John Walker: the Musical also features musical accompaniment the four-piece rock powerhouse, The Taliband, making its performance debut.
John Walker is produced by J. Edward Cecala and Keith Kiya Wilson, in association with Suzanne Zelinski, Push Productions, Mahonia Theater Company, Tom Escovar and Brad Bauner.
Tickets are $15. For information, call (212) 279-4488 or (888) FRINGE-NYC.
The John Walker performance schedule is Aug. 15 at 9:30 PM, Aug. 20 at 10:45 PM, Aug. 24 at 8 PM, Aug. 26 at 5:15 PM, Aug. 29 at 3 PM.