Where will you find a musical ode to a silent screen classic, a feast of Irving Berlin tunes, and Southern belles haunted by a Confederate ghost? Even flying saucers -- the kind from outer space? This summer, at bustling, industrious Blowing Rock Stage Company in Blowing Rock, NC.
With world premieres of The IT Girl, sub-titled "a silent movie musical"; Pilgrimage, a "Southern" comedy; and The Melody Lingers On, a revue celebrating the music of Irving Berlin plus the regional premiere of Zombies from the Beyond, the 1995 Off-Broadway musical, it's easy to understand why BRSC seems to be bursting at the seams even with its newly hired staff of 10.
June 19-30th, BRSC presents a musical valentine to the silent film era, The IT Girl, with book by Michael Small and BT McNicholl, music by Paul McKibbins, and lyrics by McNicholl. The show with 17 tunes and a cast of seven is based on the 1927 Paramount film It which skyrocketed Clara Bow to stardom and created the phenomenon of the "It Girl." Directing is Dale Sandish, also an actor with Off-Broadway and regional credits and a more than passing connection with Forever Plaid, which he played in Off-Broadway and companies of which he's directed.
McKibbins described it as "a jazz age Cinderella story. It's an old- fashioned entertainment about rich boy meets girl (a lingerie salesperson in the world's largest department store), girl loses boy, and boy comes to his senses and gets girl. Silent movies didn't portray life in the 20s very realistically and neither do we."
The IT Girl had a series of workshops in New York in late 1995, at which time Price Berkley of Theatrical Index called it "a bright and breezy musical with a big future." Small, a former writer for The Harvard Lampoon and reporter for People, is editor of Entertainment Weekly Online.
McNicholl, the assistant director of the Funny Thing ... Broadway revival, has worked closely with Stephen Sondheim and directors Jerry Zaks and James Lapine. He recently directed a first-act workshop of Fever starring Donna McKechnie. McKibbons assists in administration at Warner-Chappell Music of Sondheim's publishing combine. As an arranger, he's worked with such top composers as Sondheim, Jule Styne, Leonard Bernstein, and John Kander.
Zombies from the Beyond, with book, music, and lyrics by James Valcq, has its regional premiere July 3-14. A spoof of 50s science fiction movies, the musical has a cast of seven. Its main character is the operatic Zombina, an inhibited creature from the beyond (of course). It played briefly at Off Broadway's Player Theatre in October, 1955, directed and choreographed by Pam Kriger, a veteran regional theatre director.
Raleigh Marcell's comedy Pilgrimage, touted as "in the tradition of Steel Magnolias and Driving Miss Daisy, premieres July 17-28. It involes some mannolia-scented women who go up against outsiders attempting to purchase their ante-bellum museum.
The Melody Lingers On, which runs July 31-August 9 and closes the season, is conceived, directed, and choreographed by veteran Broadway dancer/choreographer Karin Baker around a feast of Irving Berlin songs and reminisces about his personal and professional life from A Daughter's Memoir by Berlin's daughter Mary Ellin Barrett. Arrangements and musical direction will be by Broadway veteran Donald Johnston. Songs will include "What'll I Do," "Puttin' On the Ritz," "Always," and "Blue Skies."
-- By Ellis Nassour