The work by Tony Award-winning composer Flaherty and Tony-winning director-adaptor Galati (who draws on Stein's writings for the stage project) created "this inspired new musical about the brilliant American expatriate writer Gertrude Stein and her passion for life, language, and the thrill of romantic love," according to the not-for-profit producers. Flaherty and Galati, with other collaborators, created Ragtime and Seussical together.
About Face and the MCA have collaborated on projects for four years, and presented a developmental pre-New York run of the Pulitzer Prize-winner I Am My Own Wife in 2003. In its earlier development, Loving Repeating was called A Long Gay Book.
Performances play the Museum of Contemporary Art Feb. 14-March 12.
"A lush, lyrical new musical, Loving Repeating explores the romantic world of Gertrude Stein: her capricious love affair with language, with self-expression, and with her lifelong companion Alice B. Toklas," according to production notes. "The musical follows Stein from her student days in the late 19th century to the height of her artistic era in Paris as one of the 'lost generation,' a term she coined referring to those who came of age between the two world wars."
Stein (1874-1946), who wrote "Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose," was known for using "repetition, extreme fragmentation, and abstraction in her writings." He circle included Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, T.S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, and her beloved "wife" Alice B. Toklas. Galati's love of Stein's writing spans four decades. His work with her texts began in the 1970s, and includes such projects as Four Saints in Three Acts for Chicago Opera Theater, She Always Said, Pablo for the Goodman Theatre, and one of his first Stein projects, Stein Pieces, which was performed at the MCA in April 1975.
Galati has described Loving Repeating as "a play within a lecture," stemming from an actual lecture Stein delivered in 1934 at age 60 at the University of Chicago, "which he uses as a springboard to give the audience glimpses into her life."
"It is the perfect partnership — bringing the great Gertrude Stein's work to the MCA, where I first presented her writing 30 years ago, and creating this production with the wonderful artists of About Face," Galati said in production notes.
Stephen Flaherty's music in the show flirts with Victorian parlor tunes, vaudevillian songs and opera.
The creative team also includes choreographer Liza Gennaro and music director Thomas Murray.
The Loving Repeating cast is led by Chicago veteran Cindy Gold as Gertrude Stein, Jenny Powers as Alice B. Toklas, and Christine Mild as the young Gertrude Stein, with ensemble members Zach Ford, Cristen Paige, Harriet Nzinga Plumpp, Travis Turner, and Bernie Yvon.
The design team includes set designer Jack Magaw, lighting designer Chris Binder, costume designer Michelle Tesdall, sound designers Rob Milburn and Michael Bodeen, and prop designer Nate Doud.
Opening night is Feb. 18. Tickets range $20-$40. Performances run Wednesday to Sunday through March 12, at the MCA (220 East Chicago Avenue). Performance times are Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights at 7:30 PM, and Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3 PM. Post-show discussions take place Feb. 14-17.
Tickets can be purchased at the MCA box office, at (312) 397-4010, or online at www.mcachicago.org.
Frank Galati has received nine Joseph Jefferson Awards for his work in Chicago theatre: one for acting, five for directing, and three for writing. He won two Tony Awards in 1990 for his adaptation and direction of Steppenwolf Theatre's production of The Grapes of Wrath on Broadway and was nominated for a Tony Award in 1998 for directing the musical Ragtime.
Stephen Flaherty has written music for theatre, film, and the concert hall. He won the Tony, Drama Desk, and Outer Critics Circle Awards for his music for the Broadway production of Ragtime. Flaherty was also nominated for a Grammy Award for the recordings "Songs From Ragtime" and "Ragtime: Original Broadway Cast Recording." Other Broadway composing credits include Seussical, Once On This Island (Tony nominations for Best Score and Best Musical; Olivier Award for London's Best Musical), My Favorite Year (Lincoln Center Theater) and Neil Simon's Proposals (incidental music). He is also the composer of A Man of No Importance and Dessa Rose (Lincoln Center Theater) and the musical farce Lucky Stiff. Film work includes "Anastasia" (Academy Award nominations for Best Score and Best Song; two Golden Globe nominations). "The Ahrens and Flaherty Songbook," a collection of his theatre and film songs written with lyricist Lynn Ahrens, has been published by Warner Bros. Publications.
About Face Theatre's mission is to create "exceptional, innovative, and adventurous plays to advance the national dialogue on gender and sexual identity, and to challenge and entertain audiences in Chicago, across the country, and around the world." Visit www.aboutface.org.
The Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) "boldly interweaves exhibitions, performances, collections, and educational programs to excite, challenge, and illuminate our visitors, and to provide insight into the creative process." It is one of only a few museums in the United States to actively incorporate the performing arts into its programming. Visit www.mcachicago.org.