Broadway's Sweeney Developing The History of Tears and New Band to Boot

News   Broadway's Sweeney Developing The History of Tears and New Band to Boot The History of Tears, a new take on a classic Goethe work, which features music from Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris — currently on Broadway as Sweeney Todd will undergo a workshop.

Michael Cerveris
Michael Cerveris Photo by Aubrey Reuben

The play with music, which performed at the Abe Burrows Theater in New York University's Tisch School of the Arts earlier this year, is being further developed according to the actor-musician.

"We're now going to do a short workshop of it with Rachel Neuburger, from Arielle Tepper's office, producing it. We're taking on now to a professional level, having developed it down at NYU," revealed Cerveris. The busy actor quipped, "So we're in the middle of trying to do that in all my copious free time."

Based on three works — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's "The Sorrows of Young Werther," Roland Barthes' "The Lovers Discourse" and Joseph R. Roach's "The Players' Passion" — the new adaptation was conceived and directed by The Art Party co-founder Nick Philipou (The Booth Variations) and written by Michael Tisdale (actor in Fräulein Else).

The History of Tears was billed as an "experimental drama [that] concerns the themes of youth, love, loss, and suicide, performed by students at the university and with a live rock band performing Cerveris' original compositions."

Neuburger, who currently serves as artistic director of the Summer Play Festival (SPF), is an associate producer at Arielle Tepper Productions, having worked on such projects as John Leguizamo's Freak, De La Guarda, James Joyce's The Dead and The Last Five Years. Other producing credits include 3 Dark Tales, Texarkana Waltz, The Moonlight Room and Seatbelts and Big Fat Buddas. The NYU design team features Shaun Motley (scenic), Lex Liang (costumes), Liz Tyler Brody (lighting), David Herman (sound) and Marilys Ernst (video/projections). Bethany Weinstein serves as stage manager and Ryan Mekenian is assistant director.

Last season, Cerveris won the Tony Award for his turn as Booth in the revival of Stephen Sondheim's Assassins. He now takes on one of the composer's most notable personae in a revival of Sweeney Todd. He has also appeared Off-Broadway in Wintertime and Fifth of July and previously earned a Tony Award nomination for his Broadway debut as the title role in The Who's Tommy. Other stage credits include Passion, Titanic and the title role in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. His latest album of original songs "Dog Eared" is currently available in stores.

As a musician, he is also at work on creating a new band, Tiny Mammoth. "In doing my solo work on the last record I did, I didn't really have a band together. That was culled together from a lot of friends from other bands for the recording sessions. So when I went to go play them live, I had to put a band together. Which I did and we really connected as a band and really enjoyed playing together. I've always wanted to have that experience: I never wanted to be a solo act with a backing band. We had started writing before I got immersed in Sweeney. Who knows, some of the Sweeney people may be involved with it." [His Assassins and Sweeney co-star Alexander Gemingani has previously played with him.]

Cerveris' hope for the new band, which is "still in its developing stages," is for a collaborative venture similar to his current Broadway experience. "The core of it would be the band that I have been playing with through the spring and we'll see how it grows from there."

For more information on the multi-facted performer, visit www.michaelcerveris.com.

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