Mark Twain's Blues, which is billed as "new play with songs," will begin previews Feb. 15 at Altered Stages with an official opening scheduled for Feb. 21. Directed by Tom Herman with music direction by David Wolfson and choreography by James Beaudry, the limited engagement will run through March 8.
The cast for Walt Stepp's play will feature Bill Tatum as Mark Twain with Bonne Kramer, Lance Olds and Barry Phillips.
Mark Twain's Blues, press notes state, "opens with the 65-year-old Mark Twain preparing for yet another of his frequent humorous lectures. But this one will be different, because soon after Twain begins to speak, he's surprised by a voice from the audience: it's Huckleberry Finn, now a full 20 years older than he was in Twain's book. He's soon joined by escaped slave Jim — now 50 years old — and together the two accuse their creator of betraying the truth of their lives in order to boost book sales. Determined to set the record straight once and for all, Huck and Jim act out some of the scenes in Twain's book...but this time, the way they really happened."
In a statement playwright/songwriter Stepp asks, "Why did America's greatest humorist fall into a great depression at the end of his life? The answer is probably heavy and complex, so my play tries to confine itself solely to the literary reasons for the famous funk. Samuel Clemens had all the usual, mortal reasons to be blue, but Mark Twain's only deep regret was that he blew the ending of what has come to be called the Great American Novel of growing up."
The design team comprises scenic designer Jan Varbelow, lighting designer Charles Foster, costume designer Cathy Small and sound designer Chris Rummel. Todd Schwartzberg is the production stage manager. Show times are Thursdays-Saturdays at 8 PM, Sundays at 5 PM and Mondays at 8 PM.
Altered Stages is located in Manhattan at 212 West 29th Street. Tickets, priced $18 (Thursdays are Pay-What-You-Can Night), are available by calling (212) 868-4444 or by visiting www.Smarttix.com. For more information log on to www.MarkTwainsBlues.com.