The world premiere of Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow's Whisper House, a ghost-story musical set in a haunted lighthouse, opens Jan. 21 following previews from Jan. 13 at the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego. Emmy Award winner Mare Winningham, who is also known as a singer, and was acclaimed for her soulful, folky Off-Broadway performance in 10 Million Miles, stars in the period musical, set in the 1940s.
Sheik, the alt-rock singer-songwriter who won a Tony Award for his score to the musical Spring Awakening, wrote the new show's music and lyrics, and Jarrow penned book and lyrics.
Peter Askin directs. The musical director is Jason Hart. The dance director is Wesley Fata.
Whisper House will continue in the Old Globe Theatre to Feb. 21.
"Set in 1942 at the height of World War II," according to Old Globe, "Whisper House is the story of an 11-year-old boy, Christopher, who lives with his Aunt Lilly in a haunted New England lighthouse following the death of his father. All of the songs in the musical are performed by the ghosts, played by David Poe and Holly Brook, and embody the boy's subconscious thoughts and fears. When Christopher begins to hear strange music seeping through the walls, is his imagination getting the best of him, or is he receiving warnings of the very real dangers that lie ahead? Whisper House is a touching and beautiful story about how we should embrace, rather than fear, the unknown." As previously reported, Keith Powell, an actor-director who founded Delaware's Contemporary Stage Company, brought the idea of the show to Sheik. The musical was inspired by a day trip Powell took in Maine a few years ago, when he was acting in New England. He toured some local lighthouses and heard ghost stories about the dwellings.
"I called Duncan Sheik and said, 'I don't know exactly what I want to do with you, but I know I want it to include ghosts and lighthouses,'" Powell told Playbill.com in 2008.
Read the Playbill magazine feature about Whisper House here.
Academy Award nominee Winningham ("Georgia," "St. Elmo's Fire") recently appeared in the world premiere of the Frank Wildhorn musical, Bonnie and Clyde, at La Jolla Playhouse. She last appeared at The Old Globe as Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie. She plays Aunt Lilly in Whisper House. For her work in the musical 10 Million Miles, Winningham received the Lucille Lortel Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination in 2008.
In addition to Brook, Poe and Winningham, the cast includes Arthur Acuña (Yasuhiro), Kevin Hoffman (Lieutenant Rando), Ted Koch (Charles) and Eric Brent Zutty (Christopher).
The Whisper House creative team includes Michael Schweikardt (scenic design), Jenny Mannis (costume design), Matt Richards (lighting design), Dan Moses Schreier (sound design) and Richard Costabile (stage manager).
Sheik was first widely known for his 1996 debut single, "Barely Breathing," which spent 55 weeks on Billboard's Hot 100. He has since expanded his work to include compositions for motion pictures and the Broadway stage. Sheik won two Tony Awards, as composer and arranger, for the Broadway production of Spring Awakening, written with lyricist Steven Sater. It won the Tony for Best Musical. In 2009, he released a "Whisper House" album, featuring songs from his developing project.
Sheik and Sater are currently developing two new musical theatre projects: Nero (Another Golden Rome) and The Nightingale.
Jarrow is a writer and musician based in New York City. He writes for the stage as well as film and television, and he plays in the bands The Fabulous Entourage and Super Mirage. He won the OBIE Award at age 24 for his Off-Broadway hit A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant, which has subsequently been produced all over the country. His play, Armless, won the Overall Excellence Award at the New York International Fringe Festival. Other plays include Love Kills, Trigger, President Harding is a Rock Star, Rip Me Open (co-writer), Hostage Song (music & lyrics), Gorilla Man (script available from Samuel French), and the upcoming Big Money (with Nathan Leigh).
Director Askin's New York City stage credits include John Leguizamo's Sexaholix, Spic-O-Rama (Drama Desk Award) and Mambo Mouth (Obie, Outer Critics' awards); plus Paul Weitz's Show People and Privilege, among others.
For tickets and information, visit www.TheOldGlobe.org or call (619) 23-GLOBE.