Small Town Sings of Tragedy in Musical The Flood, Starting Oct. 23 in NYC

News   Small Town Sings of Tragedy in Musical The Flood, Starting Oct. 23 in NYC Prospect Theater Company's first production of its sixth New York City season is the fact-inspired musical The Flood, which the troupe workshopped in 2001.
A'lisa D. Miles as The River and Jennifer Blood as Rosemary in The Flood
A'lisa D. Miles as The River and Jennifer Blood as Rosemary in The Flood Photo by Gerry Goodstein

With book, music and lyrics by Peter Mills and Cara Reichel, The Flood officially spills into the Chernuchin Theatre at the American Theater of Actors, 314 W. 54th Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, Oct. 23. Previews began Oct. 21, and the production will run through Nov. 19.

Originally workshopped by the company in 2001, Prospect "returns to Meyerville, Illinois and one community's struggle against the rising tide of the Mississippi River that would wipe it off the map," according to production notes. "The events of the past five years have only added to the resonance of this epic story, which documents the catastrophic floods in the Midwest during the summer of 1993. Mythic and moving, with a stirring score and deeply American characters, The Flood looks for meaning in cycles of devastation and rebirth, and finds that even in the wake of tragedy there are things that float."

The Flood is directed by Cara Reichel, music directed by Justin Hatchimonji, with orchestrations by Daniel Feyer.

The design team includes Kanae Heike (sets), Sidney J. Shannon (costumes), Evan Purcell (lights) and Shannon Slaton (sound).

Cast includes A'lisa D. Miles as the River, Jamie Davis as Alice, Jennifer Blood as Rosemary, Catherine Porter as Susan, Jonathan Rayson as Curtis, Drew Poling as Ezekiel, Joseph O'Brien as Keller, and Matt DeAngelis as Raleigh. The ensemble includes Joe Bergquist, Victoria Budonis, Nick Cartell, Deborah Grausman, Carol Hickey, Greg Horton, Dan Housek, Suzanne Houston, Amy Hutchins, Roxann Kraemer, Jean McCormick, Michael Pesce, Zachary Prince, Daniel Scott Richards, Zachary Wobensmith and Erica Wright. According to the company, The Flood has its roots in spring 1995, when writer-director Cara Reichel, as part of a group of students in Princeton University's theatre program, worked in a collaborative playwriting workshop. The class researched the 1993 flood of the Mississippi River and, in particular, the small town of Valmeyer, Illinois. The people there decided to re-build the town on higher ground after the flood.

Along with other students, Reichel traveled to St. Louis and Valmeyer over spring break to interview residents of the area about their experience. The group visited local farms and schools, walked through the abandoned, flooded-out town of Valmeyer, saw the new town rising up a few miles away, and talked to many flood victims still living in the government trailer park known as "Femaville" almost two years after the catastrophic event.

In summer 2000, Reichel approached Mills with the idea to write a musical based on this research, and the two began to create their own version of the story.

"Although the characters and town of Meyerville, and the specific incidents related in The Flood, are completely fictional, we hope that the underlying emotional story of a community banding together in the wake of disaster rings true," Reichel said in notes. Mills added, "In the score, we establish Meyerville through the sound of the 24 cast member voices uniting musically to convey that all-important sense of community. The Flood uses the uniquely American art form of musical theatre to tell a uniquely American story."

Peter Mills (book, music and lyrics) received 2005 Drama Desk Award nominations for Best Music and Best Orchestrations, the 2003 Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award from the ASCAP Foundation, and received a 2002 grant from the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation. Most recently, he wrote lyrics for the new musical comedy, Iron Curtain (with Stephen Weiner, music, and Susan DiLallo, book). Other recent projects include The Pursuit of Persephone, Lonely Rhymes (a comic song cycle), The Alchemists, Illyria (a musical adaptation of Twelfth Night, which had its regional premiere at The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey in Fall 2004, with a cast album released in April 2005) and The Taxi Cabaret (published by Samuel French in fall 2004).

Cara Reichel (director/book, music, lyrics) is the producing artistic director and a founding member of Prospect Theater Company. For Prospect, she has recently directed Iron Curtain (IT Award Nomination, Best Director), The Pursuit of Persephone (co-bookwriter), The Book of the Dun Cow, The Uses of Enchantment, The Merry Wives of Windsor, Lonely Rhymes, The Alchemists, Dido & Aeneas (OOBR Award), The Taxi Cabaret (OOBR Award), Illyria (co-adapter), and Danton's Death, among others. She received the 2002 Lucille Lortel Award from the League of Professional Theatre Women, a 2004 New Directors/New Works grant from the Drama League, and is a member of the Lincoln Center Director's Lab.

Show times are Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 PM with matinee performances on Sundays at 3 PM. There are additional performances on Oct. 22 at 7 PM (no 3 PM performance that day), Oct. 23 and Nov. 8 and 15 at 8 PM, and an additional Saturday matinee Nov. 18 at 2 PM. Ticket prices are $20 for adults and $16 for students, which can be purchased in advance by calling (212) 352-3101 or by visiting www.prospecttheater.org.

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