Orchestral Theatre Piece Edison Invents May Be Expanded for Musical Stage

News   Orchestral Theatre Piece Edison Invents May Be Expanded for Musical Stage
 
Composer Robert S. Cohen, co-writer of the Richard Rodgers Award-honored musical Suburb, is working on expanding his solo-voice musical theatre piece called Edison Invents.

The 35-minute one-man musical-with-orchestra premiered in April 2005 under the baton of David Wroe, who conducted the Westfield Symphony Orchestra at the Union County Arts Center in New Jersey. Broadway's Ron Bohmer (The Woman in White) starred as American inventor Thomas A. Edison.

Cohen said he and librettist Herschel Garfein are looking to expand the piece — first billed as being for "baritone and orchestra" — into a fuller 90-minute musical theatre experience, perhaps adding additional actors.

Edison Invents, a unique musical theatre work that mixes song, dialogue and acting, is hard to define, Cohen told Playbill.com. It's a mix of Mark Twain Tonight-style solo play and concert song cycle. Nimble Bohmer played Edison as an old man recounting his life, and transformed into the young Edison, his wife, and others.

Edison Invents can be presented with full orchestra or solo piano, Cohen said. The audience must bring its imagination.

The show is currently being considered for performance by orchestras around the country. Cohen himself penned the orchestration. *

Cohen has written music for orchestra, chamber ensemble, dance and theatre. He co-authored the book and composed the score for the musical Suburb, whose production at Off-Broadway’s York Theatre Company in 2001 earned nominations for Best Musical from the Outer Critics Circle, the Drama League, and the Lucille Lortel Awards. Suburb was also the recipient of the 2000 American Academy of Arts and Letters' Richard Rodgers Award. The show received its world premiere in fall 2000 at the Alleyway Theatre in Buffalo, NY for which it was awarded a 2001 Artie Award as Best Musical and subsequently has been performed throughout the United States and Europe.

A U.S. licensing deal for Suburb will happen in 2006 via Dramatic Publishing (www.dramaticpublishing.com) and a recording of the score will be available from the Original Cast label in early 2006. David Javerbaum is the show's co-librettist and sole lyricist.

Cohen's ballet String Quartet #2 (A Day in the Life) was recently premiered by the New Jersey Music Society's Ensemble America and the Freespace Dance Company, and his a cappella choral work Sprig of Lilac was performed by the Connecticut Choral Artists (CONCORA) and released on CD by the St. Martin's Chamber Choir of Denver, Colorado.

Cohen has served as resident composer for the National Shakespeare Company, the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival, and the Manitoba Theater Center. His musical God in Concert: (One Night Only) received a workshop at the Second Stage Theatre in New York City under the direction of choreographer Lynn Taylor-Corbett. He was also co-author and arranger of the musical In My Life (not the 2005 Broadway show), for which he obtained the exclusive theatrical rights to the Lennon-McCartney song catalog. It was performed at New Dramatists and Westbeth Theater.

Cohen is also a contributing author of the recently published short-story collection "Romance Recipes for the Soul" and the author of the short story collection, "The Half-Life of Pizza and Other Slices."

He lives in Montclair, NJ with his wife Maryann.

For more information, visit www.robertscohen.com or www.suburbthemusical.com.

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