Based on the classic John Steinbeck novel — which traces the Joad family's arduous journey from Oklahoma to California — the new work plays the Ordway Center for the Performing Arts in Saint Paul, MN, through Feb. 18. Eric Simonson directs the three-act production, which features the Minnesota Opera Orchestra.
Heading the cast are Brian Leerhuber as Tom Joad with Deanne Meek as Ma Joad, Kelly Kaduce as Rosasharn, Roger Honeywell as Jim Casy, Peter Halverson as Pa Joad, Robert Orth as Uncle John, Rosalind Elias as Granma, Dan Dressen as Grampa, Jesse Blumberg as Connie Rivers, Andrew Wilkowske as Noah, Joshua Kohl as Al, Maeve Moynihan as Ruthie and Henry Bushnell as Winfield. The ensemble features Theodore Chletsos, Anna Jablonski, Kelly Markgraf, Greg Pearson and Karin Wolverton.
The creative team for Grapes of Wrath also includes Doug Varone (choreographer), Doug Scholz-Carlson (assistant director), Allen Moyer (set designer), Kärin Kopischke (costume designer), Robert Wierzel (lighting designer) and Tom Watson & Associates (wig master and makeup).
The Grapes of Wrath features music by Gordon and a libretto by Korie. After its Minnesota debut, the opera is scheduled to play the Utah Opera in spring 2007 and both the Houston Grand Opera and Pittsburgh Opera in 2008.
In a recent mass e-mail, composer Gordon said, "It has been deeply satisfying and profound to work on this opera. Allowing Steinbeck's rich intricate people to speak through my notes and Michael's words has changed me. I hope we honor the story with what we have done. I hope we have made something beautiful. I feel excited about it." Ricky Ian Gordon’s My Life with Albertine was presented at Playwrights Horizons. His other works include Dream True, States of Independence, Stonewall/Night Variations, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Only Heaven, Autumn Valentine, Sweet Song and Morning Star. His songs have been recorded by such artists as Betty Buckley, Audra McDonald and Dawn Upshaw. PS Classics recently released Gordon's Dream True with a cast headed by Victoria Clark, Jessica Molaskey, Jason Danieley, Brian d'Arcy James, Kelli O'Hara, Jeff McCarthy, Clark Thorell and Michael McElroy.
For Grapes of Wrath ticket information, visit www.mnopera.org.