Sextet Sing of Life at the Crossroads in Six of One Reading, with Schaffel, April 14

News   Sextet Sing of Life at the Crossroads in Six of One Reading, with Schaffel, April 14 Tis Speros, Valerie Wright and Marla Schaffel are among the thirtysomething friends and lovers who sing about their changing lives and loves April 14 in a Manhattan reading of the musical, Six of One, by Larson Award recipients Paul Loesel and Scott Burkell.

CAP21, the Manhattan performing arts conservatory that also promotes and develops new works, has been associated with the project over the last five years and is developing the piece with an eye toward an Off-Broadway production in 2004.

This latest reading is 7 PM April 14 as part of CAP21's Barbara Wolff Monday Night Reading Series at the company's space on 18th Street. Lyricist-librettist Burkell directs, but admits he and composer Loesel are shopping around for a director.

The reading cast includes Tia Speros (as flighty Kate, who has an unseen longtime boyfriend), Valerie Wright (as Bev, whose marriage has chilled), Dan Cooney (as Zach, married to Bev, but drawn to someone else in the sextet of pals), Marla Schaffel (as single Karen, a type-A personality), Burkell (as Sam, whose boyfriend is 21), and Michael Miller (as Joey, Sam's young boyfriend, the outsider in the group).

Lynne Shankel (Summer of 42) is musical director. Wright's credits include the national tour of Damn Yankees and regional runs of 3hree, Schaffel was Tony Award-nominated for Jane Eyre.

Six of One has been seen in various readings over the past five years, including the ASCAP Musical Theatre Workshop in 2001. The writers won a Larson Developmental Grant in 2000 for the show. About a third of the work is new or different since its early readings in 1997 and 1998, Loesel said. Burkell, who is also an actor, said the idea for the show started as a way to use his talented friends who were not working.

Burkell and Loesel knew they wanted to write a "book show" with genuine, contemporary-sounding songs — not a "sung-through" piece. The show is sent present-day Manhattan. The characters, except for young Joey, are former college classmates. The writers also knew they wanted to create an ensemble work.

"People ask, 'Who is it about'? And we say, 'Whose story do you relate to most?'" Burkell told Playbill On-Line.

"It deals with issues of people who are trying to move into middle age and cannot mature," explained CAP21 literary director Eliza Ventura. "It's a contemporary American problem, this obsession with youth. It's about moving into true relationships with your friends, your lovers, in your married life."

Rehearsals for the reading have been ongoing since March 31. Ventura said Loesel and Burkell have not been afraid to rewrite, which is vital in the creation of a musical or play.

The reading is free and open to the public. CAP21 is at 18 W. 18th Street, Sixth Floor. For reservations or information, call (212) 807-0202 or visit www.cap21.org.