Public Will See More See What I Wanna See; Musical Extends

News   Public Will See More See What I Wanna See; Musical Extends Michael John LaChiusa's See What I Wanna See, a new musical inspired by the Japanese short stories of Ryunosuke Akutagawa, has extended an extra two weeks to Dec. 4.

The show only began performances at The Public Theater Oct. 11. It stars Idina Menzel, who, due to her starring role in Wicked, has become one of the most popular performers on the musical stage.

LaChiusa, one of the musical theatre's busiest and most talked-about writers (Hello Again, Marie Christine, First Lady Suite, The Wild Party), brings his febrile imagination to the tales that inspired the famed 1950 film "Rashomon" — in which an incident is recounted by various witnesses and participants, offering different views of "truth."

The production under Ted Sperling's direction (and Chris Fenwick's musical direction) marks the New York premiere of the work, seen under a different title at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. Musical staging is by Jonathan Butterell. Opening is Oct. 30. Performances play in the Public's Anspacher space.

Singing the words and music of LaChiusa are Marc Kudisch (who is on leave from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), Aaron Lohr (Radiant Baby), Menzel (Rent, Wicked), Henry Stram (Broadway's The Crucible, Titanic) and Mary Testa (On the Town, Marie Christine, A New Brain).

Here's how The Public bills the work: "A park. A thief. A priest. A psychic. A miracle. A lie. The truth. From a mysterious murder in Central Park to the miracle of a devastated city’s rebirth, New York stories of faith, loss and redemption are explored in this new musical by Michael John LaChiusa (The Public's The Wild Party), complete with a contemporary, lush score." In a 2004 production at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the project was known as R Shomon and featured Audra McDonald.

See What I Wanna See has scenic design by Thomas Lynch, costume design by Elizabeth Caitlin Ward, lighting design by Christopher Akerlind and sound design by Acme Sound Partners.

The work is based on the stories, as translated by Takashi Kojima.

Ted Sperling, widely known as a musical director and orchestrator was a 2005 Tony and Drama Desk Award winner for his orchestrations of The Light in the Piazza, for which he was also music director. Other Broadway credits as music director/conductor/pianist include Dirty Rotten Scoundrels; The Full Monty; How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying; Kiss of the Spider Woman; Angels in America; My Favorite Year; Falsettos; Drood; Les Misérables; Roza and Sunday in the Park With George. He was also an original cast member of the Broadway musical Titanic. Off-Broadway credits as music director include A Man of No Importance; Wise Guys, A New Brain; Saturn Returns; Floyd Collins; Falsettoland and Romance in Hard Times. Sperling's work as a stage director includes the world premieres of three musicals See What I Wanna See; Charlotte: Life? Or Theater? and Striking 12, as well as a revival of Lady in the Dark starring Andrea Marcovicci. Sperling has been soprano Audra McDonald's music director since 1999.

The performance schedule for See What I Wanna See varies. Visit www.publictheater.org for details.

Tickets for See What I Wanna See are $60 and are on sale at The Public Theater box office, 425 Lafayette Street; on-line at www.publictheater.org; or via Telecharge.com at (212) 239-6200.

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The Public Theater's artistic director is Oskar Eustis; its executive director is Mara Manus. The Public is currently celebrating its 50th season.

Idina Menzel and Henry Stram in <i>See What I Wanna See</i>.
Idina Menzel and Henry Stram in See What I Wanna See. Photo by Michal Daniel