The four-performance run follows regional bookings in late fall. The musical — in which band members Gene Lewin (drums/vocals), Brendan Milburn (keyboards/vocals) and Valerie Vigoda (electric violin/vocals) play themselves and a host of modern and 19th-century characters created with co-book writer Rachel Sheinkin (and Hans Christian Andersen) — plays The Zipper Factory 8 PM Dec. 27-29 and 8 PM Dec. 31.
A commercial run of the hybrid concert/musical was presented at Off-Broadway's Daryl Roth Theatre for a holiday 2006 sitdown. Prior to that run, which also featured GrooveLily, the bandmates had appeared in engagements around the country for several years, including a concert by Melting Pot Theatre Company that was recorded by PS Classics for a cast album.
Sean Patrick Flahaven, general manager and director of music and marketing for Theatrical Rights Worldwide, the licensing company, was an early champion of the show and thought the title would be strong in the TRW catalog. TRW now has both the three-person version and a large-cast version of Striking 12 available for perusal by regional theatres.
(A concert staging of the new larger legit theatrical version, minus GrooveLily members, is currently playing Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia.)
The meta-theatrical concert-style band version of the show tells the story of a grumpy 21st-century office worker who wants to be left alone on New Year's Eve. But something is awakened in him when he's visited by a quirkily optimistic young woman who is selling a string of mood-enhancing holiday light bulbs. Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Match Girl" is evoked, and the show is split between modern times and the 19th-century fable — all of it with the audience fully aware that musician-actors are in the spotlight, telling the story in a presentational way with an eclectic pop score that critics have embraced for honoring musical theatre craft and conventions.
For the record, Striking 12 is written by Milburn (book, music and lyrics), Tony Award winner Sheinkin (book and lyrics) and Vigoda (book, music and lyrics).
Vigoda told Playbill.com on Dec. 26, "We are extremely excited to bring Striking 12 in concert to the Zipper. We feel that the show is in the best shape it's ever been in. We were very proud of the Off-Broadway version from last season, but have since gotten the opportunity to do a little bit of tweaking. This past summer, we had the task, courtesy of the fine folks at Theatrical Rights Worldwide, of adapting the show for other/larger casts to do, and we learned quite a bit from that process, some of which we've been able to apply to our own current road version with very good results."
What's new in Striking 12 in 2007? Vigoda explained, "If you come back this year you'll hear a few different things. We have added an overture, with fun lyrics about turning your cell phones off and such. This really sets the mood nicely — we've found that it kind of gives people permission to enjoy themselves right away. They relax a little bit, and know right off the bat that Striking 12 is not going to be a prim, hands-folded-in-your-lap type of theatrical evening. We also then jump right into the story, meeting our grumpy Man Who's Had Enough at the end of his hard day at the office singing 'Last Day of the Year,' and then follow with 'Snow Song (It's Coming Down),' which previously was simply a scene-and-mood-setting wintry piece but is now sung specifically by the Light Bulb Saleswoman, as she and the Man pass each other going in different directions.
"The other bigger change from last year is that we are doing the show entirely without props, without set, without a lot of specific light cues so it has a bit more of a casual, concert-with-a-story vibe. This is nice and freeing for us, and we've been having an absolute blast doing it this way...and an unexpected bonus is that in some ways, it can come across as actually more theatrical, with so much being left to the audience's imagination."
Tickets are $35; visit www.thezipperfactory.com. The Zipper Factory is at 336 W. 37th Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues.
For more information about Striking 12 — and to sample music from the show — visit www.Striking12.com. For album information, visit www.PSClassics.com. For more information about pop group GrooveLily, visit www.GrooveLily.com.
Sheinkin, Milburn and Vigoda's new musical, Sleeping Beauty Wakes, was nominated for 10 Ovation Awards in Los Angeles. It won two Ovations — Best Premiere Musical and Best Musical Direction (for Milburn).
Sheinkin won the Tony Award for the book to The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.