Boston's SpeakEasy Stage Company, known best for its stagings of Boston premieres, will take a new step in its 11th year when it produces a world-premiere rock musical — Paul Grellong's Hot Star, Nebraska, March 8-30.
Brown University grad Grellong told Playbill On-Line Hot Star, Nebraska is taken from "the name of the fictional small-town where the play takes place. The story is centered around two characters — Melanie and Tom. It's about five years since they graduated from high school, things have gone downhill for them." The play, which takes place over the course of one day, sees the characters trying to get out of the small town once and for all.
The show consists of 14 songs sung by a cast of nine, which features fellow Brown alums Miriam Silverman and Ben Steinfeld — who appeared in earlier workshops of the tuner at Brown in 2000. Grellong was a playwriting major at Brown. The cast also includes Greg DeCandia, Jeffrey Harris, Julie Jirousek, Courtney Keiim, Christine Pardilla, Kate Pickett and Eric Waldo. The live band features German Schauss (guitar), Yotam Rosenbaum (drums) and Casey Stansifer (bass).
Following the Brown production, Grellong then teamed up with then-Trinity Conservatory directing student and SpeakEasy performer Michael Baron to present a 2001 concert version of Hot Star at Restaurant Prov, a local bar.
Grellong recalled, "We got this bar in downtown Providence and we had it one afternoon. They brought in a bartender, we packed the back room and it was about 100 people in the middle of a hot Providence afternoon... It was so aesthetically right for the show." That performance attracted SpeakEasy producing artistic director Paul Daigneault, who then offered the show its current mainstage run.
Baron helms the production again for Grellong. The 23-year old composer also wrote the book and lyrics for the show and will be musical director. His other current work Uncle Broadway — which he co-wrote with director Richard Ericson, composer Bruce Coyle and lyricist Judith Swift — will open at Chicago's Royal George Theatre March 10, two days after Hot Star.
For tickets to Hot Star, Nebraska at the Boston Center for the Arts, 539 Tremont St., call (617) 426-ARTS. For more information, visit www.speakeasystage.com.
— by Ernio Hernandez