This week, Nell Benjamin and Laurence O'Keefe—the music and lyrics team behind Legally Blonde—debut the latest version of their musical Life of the Party. Originally developed five years ago, the project has been workshopped in recent months with students of NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Vocal Performance, who are presenting the new musical with a Broadway-sized cast.
Jessica Bashline directs the NYU staging, which runs March 23–26 at the Provincetown Playhouse, located at 133 Macdougal Street, New York.
Set in the Soviet Union in 1953 and based on true events, Life of the Party follows a group of artists trying to make a movie musical during Stalin’s dictatorship. The show details the struggles of trying to make art in the face of an oppressive government.
“Life of the Party —which you might call a Soviet Singin' in the Rain—explores themes of censorship, betrayal and bravery, and the role that the arts play in society,” says O’Keefe. “We based the show on some heartbreaking and inspiring true stories of unsung artists ordered to create happiness in a psychotic world. That may have some relevance for today."
The new production features music direction by Benjamin Green, choreography by Nick Kenkel, scenic design by Ryan Howell, lighting design by Cheyenne Sykes, costume design by Michelle Humphrey, sound design by Eleni Maltas, and props by Sandy Yaklin. The production stage manager is Armelle Harper.
The cast is made up of NYU Steinhardt students Stephanie Bacastow, Erica Bigelow, Cynthia Bonacum, James Buhse, Jack Buxton, Michelle Cosentino, Elle Fellerhoff, Eimear Foley, Matthew Hougland, Fabien Joubert-Gallmeister, Josh Kahn, Noelle Leinwol, Evan Parker, Madeline Raube, James Rose, Eric Sand, Chad Schultze, Jacqui Sirois, Berlayne Smith, Amanda Strader, Maksim Tokarev, Joseph Valle-Hoag, and Parker Wallis.