Director Bill Castellino and actor-songwriter Gilles Chiasson are developing a new conceptual revue, Fishwrap!, in which songwriters are asked to create musical numbers based on articles that have appeared in the New York Times.
The show will run this summer at the Adirondack Theatre Festival in upstate New York, Castellino told Playbill On-Line. A reading will be held in May.
The goal was to encourage new writers and give them a platform. The assigned writers or teams were told, "don't just musicalize the articles," and were encouraged to use the events of the articles to inspire something beyond the ordinary. The songs are expected be as eclectic as the writers: Serious, comic, pop, folky and more.
The 15 pieces in the show, subtitled Yesterday's News, Tomorrow's Songs, are drawn from news items, obituaries, recipes, features in the Times Sunday magazine and more.
Is it a sister show the so-called "living newspaper" form of pseudo-documentary theatre that emerged in the 1930s? "It isn't so much a living newspaper," Castellino said. "It's designed to be an of-the-moment response to the world around us."
As such, if the form takes off and has a future life, the material could be constantly updated and changed.
Chiasson, who has written a musical of his own called Chrysalis, and appeared as an actor in Rent and The Civil War on Broadway, came up with the idea for Fishwrap! and brought it to Castellino. They are billed as conceiving and developing the piece, and Castellino will direct. Castellino (who runs Cherry County Playhouse in Michigan) and Chiasson have served as "curators" for Fishwrap!, assigning and helping shape the songs, Castellino said. He called the show "a musical theatre event" of "pop songs flavored by musical theatre." There will be some narrative connective material in the show, as well, Castellino added.
Some of the participating writers are Chiasson, Chris Roberts, Lori Fischer, Jim Price, Bryan Johnson, Jeremy Desmon and David Guerrerio, among others.
No dates for the show have been announced by the Adirondack Theatre Festival, in Glen Falls, NY, 30 minutes north of Albany on the shores of Lake George. For information, visit www.atfestival.org.
— By Kenneth Jones