Oliver & Ryback's Darling, a New Musical Set in the Jazz Age, Will Test Its Legs at Emerson College

News   Oliver & Ryback's Darling, a New Musical Set in the Jazz Age, Will Test Its Legs at Emerson College
 
A private workshop of the new musical Darling by Ryan Scott Oliver and Brett (B.T.) Ryback will be presented at Emerson College in Boston in December as a collaboration of Retrop Productions and Emerson College's RareWorks Theatre Company. Students will test the material in the reading meant for the writers and undergrad creative team.

Ryan Scott Oliver
Ryan Scott Oliver

The workshop is presented in association with Kurt Deutsch, the Grammy Award-winning president and founder of Sh-K-Boom/Ghostlight Records. A fuller developmental production will play Emerson in February-March 2012, and will be open to the public.

Darling, A New Musical will be directed by Michael Bello, a senior BFA Musical Theatre major at Emerson College. Bello has previously worked as an assistant director at Theatreworks in Palo Alto, CA and for Mary Zimmerman at the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston.

Darling has music and lyrics by Oliver and book by Ryback. According to the writers, the musical "follows upper crust teenager Ursula Morgan in 1929 Boston as its society boils in the weeks before the Crash. Neglected by her excessive, self-absorbed parents, Ursula encounters a boy named Peter, on the run from the Captain of Police who pursues him for a heinous crime he may or may not have committed. When she is offered the opportunity to run away with him, she takes it and finds herself swept into a seedy underground of jazz, sex and a mysterious white powder called Fairy Dust."

Deutsch, whose record label embraces scores that bridge the gap between pop-rock and musical theatre, told Playbill.com, "I have been working on developing the piece with RSO and Brett as a producer and friend of the court so to speak. We had a very informal reading in my office, with a cast, and based on notes from myself and some creatives they have been doing a very substantial rewrite of the piece.

"Jacob Porter from Emerson was an intern of mine this past spring and is a student at Emerson and he asked me if I had anything I was developing that he and the musical theatre students at Emerson could produce. I immediately suggested Darling because of the age of the characters, the style of the music and the general themes of the piece. I really thought the students would respond to the material in a very passionate way." He added, "We laid out a path for developing at Emerson in two phases. Phase One will be a week long workshop culminating reading focusing on the text and the new draft with no staging just really focusing on the story. Then Phase Two will be putting it on its feet with the students in a developmental production. I think it is a very exciting and perfect way to develop a piece. From Emerson, the hope is to continue the process and figure out what the next steps will be."

Porter, president of Retrop Productions, said in a statement, "Having [Ryan Scott Oliver] and [B.T. Ryback] present for the developmental process will be a beneficial learning experience for the entire Emerson student community and will provide the authors with information that will aid the creation of this daring and bold new work."

Nick Medvescek, producing director for RareWorks Theatre Company, said, "This production allows us to link our student community to industry leaders and rising talent."

The following students are participating in the project: Sam Shull (Berklee College of Music '12) is music director; Tobey Zaretsky (Political Communication '13) is choreographer; Nick Medvescek (Theatre Studies '13) is producing director, RareWorks Theatre Company; Jacob S. Porter (Marketing Communications '13) is producer, Retrop Productions; Gregory Turner (Theatre Studies '13) is associate producer; Srda Vasiljevic (Theatre Studies '14) is associate producer; Emma MacDonald (Marketing Communications '14) is marketing/press director, RareWorks Theatre Company. Cast will be announced following early December auditions.

Book writer Ryback won the Tennessee Williams One-Act Competition for his play Weïrd. His play A Roz By Any Other Name was the winner of the Henrico County Theatre One-Act Competition, Virginia. Both are published in The Best American Short Plays 2007-2008 (Applause). Other works include Liberty Inn: The Musical (LA Ovation Award Nominations, Best Music/Lyrics, Best Book); I, Abraham (UCLA commission); Quit India (Richard Rodgers Award Finalist); Death Valley DQ; and The Tavern Keeper's Daughter.

Composer-lyricist Oliver is currently writing the score for Disney Theatricals' stage musical Freaky Friday, directed by Memphis director Christopher Ashley. He was a 2011 Lortel Award Nominee, a 2009 Jonathan Larson Grant Recipient, a 2008 Rodgers Award Winner. He penned music and lyrics for 35mm (directed by Daisy Prince), Mrs. Sharp (Playwrights Horizons July 2009 starring Jane Krakowski, directed by Michael Greif), Out of My Head, and the 2010 Writer's Guild East Awards. A collection of his work, Rated RSO, played the Kennedy Center, Joe's Pub, New York Musical Theatre Festival. Off-Broadway and elsewhere he wrote for TheatreWorksUSA's We the People, Rosie O'Donnell's Theater Kids, and cabarets worldwide. Upcoming commissions include Jasper in Deadland (for Pasadena Musical Theatre Program) and The Frog Prince, Cont. (with Chicago's Emerald City Youth Theatre).

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Retrop Productions was formed in the summer of 2011 by Emerson student Jacob S. Porter and aims "to provide college musical theatre programs with the opportunity to develop new musical theatre with rising composers and book writers."

RareWorks Theatre Company "supports theatrical productions fully produced, directed, managed, and staged solely by students of Emerson College. The genres which they sponsor include musical theatre, plays, student written pieces, and experimental theatre. Their mission is to provide professional theatrical opportunities by producing new, provocative, and rare works."

Visit www.rareworkstheatre.com or www.retropproductions.com.

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