Lindbergh Baby Kidnapped, Kenneth Allan Vega's music-theatre exploration of the infamous kidnapping and murder of the infant son of Charles Lindbergh, ends its world premiere run in Baltimore March 3.
The limited engagement at Baltimore Theatre Project, co-produced by BTP, Curtain Call Productions and Towson University's MFA in Theatre, opened Feb. 16.
This is the first of two Lindbergh-baby musicals to be presented in 2001. Lyricist-composer-librettist Michael Ogborn's Baby Case gets its second workshop at the Arden Theatre in Philadelphia (under the direction of Terrence Nolen) in the spring and opens the 2001-2002 season in fall.
Director and co-designer Scott Susong got good reviews for his highly visual staging of librettist-composer-lyricist Vega's Lindbergh Baby Kidnapped. The Baltimore Sun called the script's focus questionable.
The story of the crime is told through six fictitious reporters who relish the media blitz, and director Susong uses puppetry, movement, video and still projections. The time period covers 1932-36, between the time of the kidnapping and the execution of the alleged killer. The directorial approach is "very physical" and "gestural" in the tradition of director Anne Bogart, Susong previously told Playbill On-Line. "[Vega] interweaves songs and scenes," Susong said. "There are pieces that are sung, but they're not full numbers, then there are scenes. The book is very strong. He didn't write 'songs.' It's definitely part of that new school of music theatre. He does explore a lot of genres of music...musical theatre, vaudeville, there is a circus theme that has an old organ grinder sound about it."
Tom Burke is music director, Nancy Wanich-Romita choreographs. The production features Cristen Susong, Kelli Danaker, Greg Shirk, Lauran Taylor, Dennis Scott and Josh Singer, M. Rohaizad Suaidi and others.
New Yorker Vega recently wrote the book for 1001 Nights, collaborating with composer-lyricist John Mercurio and producer Andrew Kato. The musical concerns a theatre troupe touring the ante-bellum South and helping to smuggle runaway slaves. A staged reading was presented at the York Theatre in New York in October 1999 and a week-long workshop was part of the Next Stage Festival at the George Street Playhouse in New Jersey in May 2000. Vega's music theatre piece, Heartfield, was given a staged reading under the direction of Gabriel Barre in December 1997 at the Manhattan Theatre Club, a public reading in February 1999 at Towson University and a full production at the Baltimore Theatre Project April-May 2000. Lindbergh Baby Kidnapped was a finalist for the Richard Rodgers Award in 1997.
Baltimore Theatre Project is a 250-seat independent space known for edgy work in Baltimore.
Tickets are $8-$14. Baltimore Theatre Project is at 45 W. Preston St., Baltimore. For ticket information, call (410) 752 8558.
The dual projects echo the competing stagings of the musical, The Wild Party in the 1999-2000 Broadway season. Those shows, by different authors and mounted by The Public Theater and Manhattan Theatre Club, respectively, were based on the same source material: Joseph Moncure March's Jazz-Age verse poem, "The Wild Party." A third version of the story, using period music, pieces of the original text, dance and more, was staged by The Studio Theatre in Washington DC in 1999.
— By Kenneth Jones