Think of them as musical theatre's 3Ms. Stephen and Scott Schwartz's My Antonia, Joe DiPietro and David Bryan's Memphis and Jennifer Giering and Beth Blatt's The Mistress Cycle will be read by TheatreWorks of Palo Alto, California (current home to the world premiere of Henry Krieger and Bill Russell's Kept) May 1-5 at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts.
My Antonia, billed as a play with new music by Tony winner Stephen Schwartz (Pippin, Godspell) is based on the novel by Willa Cather. Antonia Shimerda, the daughter of immigrants, survives terrible things, including poverty and failed romance, but struggles on in Cather's physical embodiment of the American pioneer spirit. Scott Schwartz is most known for his directing, including work on the musicals Bat Boy and tick, tick...Boom!.
A musical entitled Memphis must be about you-know-who, the King of Rock 'n' Roll. Well, yes, but not the king you're thinking of. Memphis brings to life 1950's radio personality Dewey Philips, who first introduced the white kids of Memphis to rhythm and blues. This new musical comedy comes from DiPietro (I Love You, You're Perfect, Now Change, Over the River and Through the Woods) and Bon Jovi keyboardist David Bryan.
The Mistress Cycle, which had a series of readings at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2001, is the story of a young woman in love with an older man, whose passionate and abusive relationship recalls that of all mistresses throughout history. Giering adapted Island of the Blue Dolphins into a musical and her song, "I Will Follow," is featured on Audra McDonald's debut CD, "Way Back to Paradise."
My Antonia performs May 1 and 3 at 8 PM and 5 at 7 PM. Memphis plays May 4 at noon and 8 PM. The Mistress Cycle performs May 4 at 4 PM and 5 at 2 PM. Tickets are $8-$15. The Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts is located at Castro and Mercy Streets in Mountain View. For more information, call (650) 903-6000. TheatreWorks is on the web at http://www.theatreworks.org.
— By Christine Ehren