Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, will stage the world premiere of a new musical, The Gospel According to Fishman, starring E. Faye Butler and directed by Signature artistic director Eric Schaeffer, Jan. 8-Feb. 24, 2002.
Michael Lazar and Richard Oberacker's musical tells the story of Alan Fishman, a young Jewish composer from Brooklyn writing spiritual music for a black gospel choir led in voice and spirit by Nehi Taylor (played by Helen Hayes Award nominee E. Faye Butler). "Searching for his own voice while struggling with an interracial love affair during the height of the civil rights movement, Fishman follows the choir to Birmingham, AL, to protest the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church," according to the Signature announcement. "Standing at one of the most explosive turning points in history, Fishman is forced to decide what he believes and where he belongs."
E. Faye Butler was last seen in the DC area portraying Dinah Washington in Dinah Was at Arena Stage, a performance that earned her a 2001 Hayes nom as well as Chicago’s Joseph Jefferson Award, Philadelphia's Barrymore Award, the AfterDark Award and the Black Theatre Alliance in the Arts Award. Chicago native Butler is the recipient of three Joseph Jefferson Awards and has appeared on Broadway in B.L.U.E.S. and Nunsense.
Tickets range $28-$30. The nonprofit Signature Theatre, operating in an intimate space at 3806 South Four Mile Run Drive, in Arlington, VA, has gained a reputation for potent revivals of musicals and new plays and musicals. The theatre has been nominated for 119 Helen Hayes Awards for excellence in the professional theatre and has been honored with 32 Helen Hayes Awards, including Outstanding Musical in 1992, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2000 and Outstanding Play in 1999.
— By Kenneth Jones