The show — developed at various venues (including HERE, The Public Theater and the Colorado performing arts school known as Perry-Mansfield), with assistance from various sources (including the Jonathan Larson Foundation) — is "a new musical theatre work spawned through a unique collaboration" between the husband wife team of musician Jim Bauer and visual artist Ruth Bauer.
Recipients of a 2004 Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation award, Jim and Ruth Bauer created The Blue Flower as a "four-dimensional stage collage, their imaginations lit by the lives of artists before, during and after The Great War," according to production notes.
In it, "Max Baumann, a famous German artist (based loosely on the historical figure Max Beckmann) dies alone on a park bench in New York City in 1955, leaving behind a fairytale book of collages that come to life on stage."
The Blue Flower is billed as "a playful Dada inspired romp through the memories unleashed at the moment of Max's death, centering on three friends and lovers he lost and the apparitions of events that overwhelmed their lives during World War I and the restless post-war years of the Weimar Republic in Germany."
Music, book and lyrics are by Jim Bauer. Art, art direction and book are by Ruth Bauer. The fall 2004 company includes Blue Flower veterans Meghan McGeary (as Hannah), Andrew Dawson (as Sewing Machine Man) and Marc Geller as (Typewriter Man) and (newcomers to the work) Todd Alan Johnson (Max), Jamie LaVerdiere (Fairytale Man), Clayton Dean Smith (Franz) and Jean Arbeuter (Maria). Will Pomerantz directs. Andrew Levine is music director.
The sound of the show is a blending of "the light and dark contours of Weimar cabaret music with American country and western." The 10-piece Weimarband, aided on stage by film projections and a cast of seven physical actor-singers, drives the "narrative song cycle" about "four interesting Germans and a love rectangle while riding the rails of history from 1889 to the present."
The piece has been developed in workshop performances at The Public Theater's "New Work Now" festival (May 2001), the HERE Artists Residency Program (2002-3), the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop (spring 2003), and the Richard Adler/ASCAP Foundation Musical Theatre Development Program in a two-week workshop at the Perry-Mansfield School for the Performing Arts in Steamboat Springs, Colorado (June 2003).
During the development of the piece, The Weimarband (three vocalists, bassoon, pedal steel guitar, cello, accordion, piano, marimba, guitar, bass, drums and percussion) has given public performances of the music from the show on a regular basis at various venues in New York City, including Joe's Pub, Makor, Galapagos, The Bottom Line and The Pyramid Club.
Spuk Theatre presents the NYMF run of The Blue Flower at Theatre at St. Clements, 46th Street between Ninth and Tenth Avenues. Performances play Sept. 21 at 7 PM, Sept. 25 at 9 PM, Sept. 26 at 7 PM, Sept. 27 at 2 PM, Sept. 30 at 2 PM, Oct. 1 at 8 PM.
For more information about the festival and to purchase passes or tickets to individual events, visit www.nymf.org.
For more information about The Blue Flower, visit www.weimarband.com.