Waterwell is set to revive lost Frank Loesser musicals, commissioned by the U.S. Army during World War II, as part of the Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival. Titled Blueprint Specials, the revival will star Tony nominees Laura Osnes and Will Swenson and will be directed by Tom Ridgely.
Performances are set to run January 6-11, 2017. Additional casting will be a mix of U.S. military veterans and actors. The original choreography for the Blueprint Specials, by José Limón, will be reconstructed by José Limón Dance Foundation artistic director Colin Connor and Limón Dance Company dancers.
Originally conceived in 1944-45 by the Special Services Division of the War Department, the Blueprint Specials were created by Tony, Oscar, and Pulitzer winner Loesser, along with writer Arnold M. Auerbach. Additional lyrics were contributed by Hy Zaret (Ballads for the Age of Science), and the dance numbers were composed by multiple Oscar nominee Alex North (A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of Salesman, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?).
The Blueprints, as they were called, were conceived as what Special Services described as “a novel and very practical service for soldiers who wish to put on good GI shows for GI audiences.” The Army packaged and distributed them as a complete script, score/orchestrations, scenic and costume drawings, along with instructions for how to put on the show.
“The fact that in the midst of the most widespread war in history the U.S. Army was bothering at all to commission Broadway-style musicals is astonishing,” said Waterwell artistic director Arian Moayed. “The fact that they were created by artists of this caliber feels almost miraculous. These are documents of immense historical importance, and we couldn’t be more honored to be giving them their first staging since 1945, and their first ever for the American public.”
The production is presented in association with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, and performances will take place on the museum’s hangar deck, located at Pier 86, West 46th Street, New York.