Post-9/11 Musical Crossing Brooklyn Gets Revision and PA Workshop

News   Post-9/11 Musical Crossing Brooklyn Gets Revision and PA Workshop Crossing Brooklyn, the 2007 Off-Broadway musical about New Yorkers struggling with loss following the attack of Sept. 11, 2001, will be seen in a revised version in Bristol, PA, in spring 2010.
Composer Jenny Giering
Composer Jenny Giering

Bristol Riverside Theatre will present a public performance of the musical by composer Jenny Giering and lyricist-librettist Laura Harrington on May 17, 2010. Bristol founder Susan D. Atkinson will direct the workshop, which will address rewrites and revisions since the Transport Group run in fall 2007 and a spring 2009 Pace University production.

According to the resident Equity theatre in Bucks County, PA, "BRT presents a newly revised version of this Off-Broadway hit. Following Sept. 11, 2001 many Americans and New Yorkers in particular felt lost, fearful and trapped. Des was a teacher working near the towers when they fell. Haunted by her memories of a lost student she has lived her life in anxiety, fear, and despair. Perhaps with the energy of New York itself and her own determination she can overcome the emotional walls she faces. With a stunning score by rising NYC recording artist and composer Jenny Giering and a book by acclaimed playwright Laura Harrington, Crossing Brooklyn dares audiences to think that great things might come out of tragic events and that anyone can overcome demons and see the beauty around them."

The reading will be part of BRT's new works series "America Rising: Voices of Today."

Harrington, a Kleban Award winner for the book, told Playbill.com on July 15, "Transport Group's Off-Broadway run of Crossing Brooklyn, with Jack Cummings, III, directing, gave us an opportunity to see our show fully realized with a great cast, director and design team. The deep feeling in the show, the sense of loss, and living with fear, was fully mined.

"Reflecting on the piece post-production, we felt that we might have missed some of the humor from earlier drafts. We also recognized that this musical is quite delicate and that tying it too securely to 9/11 might be adding an unnecessary burden to the show. And, while 9/11 and its aftermath is the inciting event for the story, we have been very careful to keep those references to a minimum so that the trauma that drives the story becomes universal. "Ultimately we learned that the musical is about love, hope, and healing."

Harrington said that the collaborators' goals for the Bristol draft of the show "are a bit bigger and bolder in scope" than changes made for the 2009 Pace version.

"We have decided to make the piece five characters instead of nine," Harrington said. "Two characters will be cut entirely, and there will be some doubling. As always happens when you cut characters, other roles will grow larger as each character has to work harder to tell the story. Our instincts tell us that this will serve the musical well."

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The 2007 Off-Broadway run had orchestrations by Drama Desk Award winner Mary-Mitchell Campbell (Company) and musical direction by Brian J. Nash. The cast included J. Bradley Bowers (Tarzan), Jenny Fellner (Mamma Mia!), Blythe Gruda (Room Service), Susan Lehman (original cast of I Can Get It for You Wholesale), Bryce Ryness (Public Theater's 40th anniversary Hair), Clayton Dean Smith (Outward Bound), Ken Triwush (Titanic), Kate Weiman (Shiloh Rules) and Jason F. Williams (The Black Suits).

Giering was the 2003 Clifton Artist in Residence at Harvard, and has won the Klinsky Prize from Second Stage Theatre, the Larson and Loewe Awards and the National Art Song Competition.

In November 2004, her musical The Mistress Cycle, written with book writer-lyricist Beth Blatt, enjoyed a sold-out run at the 2005 New York Musical Theatre Festival. She is working with Marsha Norman on the musical Princess Caraboo. Her work is heard on the solo album "Look for Me."

Harrington's plays, musicals, operas and radio plays have been produced in the U.S., Canada, and abroad. Her work includes Resurrection, premiered by Houston Grand Opera (music by Tod Machover), subsequently produced at Boston Lyric Opera, and available on CD from Albany Records; N (Bonaparte), premiered by Pilgrim Theatre Company at the Boston Center for the Arts; Hallowed Ground, premiered by the Boston Playwrights' Theatre, where it won the Boston IRNE Award for Best New Play; Martin Guerre (music by Roger Ames), commissioned by the Boston Lyric Opera, workshopped at the O'Neill Music Theatre Conference and produced by Hartford Stage Company; Marathon Dancing, directed by Anne Bogart, and produced in by En Garde Arts; The Perfect 36 (music by Mel Marvin), commissioned and produced by Tennessee Repertory Theatre and as part of the NAMT festival; Lucy's Lapses (music by Christopher Drobny), workshopped at the O'Neill Music Theatre Conference and produced by Portland Opera and Playwrights Horizons. Harrington wrote a new book for Houston Grand Opera's reworked revival of Victor Herbert's Babes in Toyland. She teaches playwriting at M.I.T. She is a two-time winner of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Award in playwriting and a two-time winner of the Clauder Competition for best new play in New England for Mercy and Hallowed Ground.