The musical "tells the story of the life of the notoriously cruel and crazed Roman emperor in the style of early '70s glam rock." The show recently had its public premiere in a concert presentation at New York City's Zipper Theatre. It uses "the colorful writings of the ancient biographer Suetonius as its primary source."
The musical was a finalist for the 2003 Richard Rodgers Award and is penned by writer-composer Eric Svejcar, who wrote the book, music and lyrics.
Euan Morton (who plays the title character) was the Tony-nominated star of the musical Taboo, about the origin of pop icon Boy George. Michael Unger (The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) will direct, with David Andrews Rogers serving as musical director of a seven-piece band.
Producer Anthony Cole McClendon told Playbill On-Line the NYMF run is a chance for the author to "make sure the piece is solid, get reaction and comments and let the industry know it's available and out there."
McClendon, who studied music with Svejcar at Indiana University, said he'd like to see the show in a space that fits its style — perhaps a funky, renovated Off-Broadway-sized venue. The cast size of 21 would seem to push it to a larger house in order to make a run economically feasible. "Maybe an Off-Broadway run would build excitement toward a larger run," McClendon said.
Chicago-bred Svejcar is assistant conductor for the national tour of Big River.
The company includes Denise Summerford (Taboo), Gilles Chiasson (Rent, The Scarlet Pimpernel), Brooke Sunny Moriber (Parade, James Joyce's The Dead), Jeb Brown (Aida), Sebastian Arcelus (Rent), Bradford W. Anderson, Meredith Kaye Clark, Daniel Cochran, Desmond Confoy, Izetta Fang, Brian M. Golub, Alan H. Greene, Moeisha McGill, Michael Minarik, Mary Mossberg, Jeffrey Pufahl, Jody Reynard, Heather Tepe and Shorey Walker.
According to production notes, "The life of Caligula has been a popular subject for stage and film: French author Albert Camus wrote a dramatization of the young man’s life in 1945; a revival of the piece was mounted last season at London's Donmar Warehouse. Caligula's life and reign figure prominently in Robert Graves' novel 'I, Claudius,' which was later filmed for the BBC. Most notorious was a 1980 film version starring Malcolm MacDowell and Peter O'Toole."
Caligula is not suitable for children, McClendon said.
Performances at The Theatre at St. Clements, 423 W. 46th Street, play Sept. 14 at 7 PM, Sept. 17 at 2 PM, Sept. 18 at 9 PM, Sept. 19 at 7 PM, Sept. 24 at 7 PM, Sept. 28 at 7 PM.
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased at www.NYMF.org or by phone at (212) 352-3101.
The first New York Musical Theatre Festival is produced under the auspices of The National Musical Theater Network, a 501(c) (3) not for profit organization. Dedicated to "discovering new works, new artists and creating new stars, NYMF will do for musical theatre what Sundance does for independent film: celebrate its diversity, creativity and future."
NYMF shows are presented under a showcase contract with Actors' Equity Association.