Expect "a musical event that takes audiences on a journey down the rivers and streams of American Folk Music — from the hills of Appalachia to the nightclubs of San Francisco and New York; from the 1920s to the 1960s," according to Rubicon notes.
Written and directed by Rubicon artistic director James O'Neil, with musical direction and arrangements by Dan Wheetman, Lonesome Traveler is presented in the style of a concert, performed by nine artists. They "create musical portraits inspired by folk immortals such as Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, The Carter Family, Lead Belly, Cisco Houston, The Almanac Singers, The Weavers, The Kingston Trio, Peter Paul & Mary and others whose music and influence changed American music — and America itself — forever."
The company includes Tracy Nicole Chapman (Caroline, or Change and Into the Woods on Broadway), Anthony Manough (The Lion King and Jesus Christ Superstar on Broadway/Rubicon's Songs for a New World), L.A.-based singer-songwriters Justine Bennett and Brendan (B. Willing) James (both mainstays in the Ventura music community and regular performers at Zoey's Café), Sylvie Davidson (a Seattle actress and singer whose credits include work at both ACT and Book-It), second-generation musicians James Webb and Trevor Wheetman, and New York-based actor/musicians Nicholas Mongiardo-Cooper and Justin Flagg (who plays the title character). All of the artists play multiple instruments and sing.
Performances continue to May 15. The score includes the well-known songs "Will the Circle Be Unbroken," "This Land is Your Land," "Deportee," "Talkin' Union," "Goodnight Irene," "Puff, the Magic Dragon," "Mr. Tambourine Man," "We Shall Overcome," "Jamaica Farewell," "Tzena, Tzena, Tzena" and "Maggie's Farm."
Director-conceiver O'Neil said in a statement, "My relationship with this music goes back to when I was six or seven-years-old. My father was a child of the Great Depression. He grew up in Oklahoma and came to California during the Dust Bowl. He was a ranch hand in Goleta and later became the head of the local retail clerk's union, and a union organizer. Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger were his heroes — my dad even played the guitar a little. As I was growing up in the late '50s and early '60s, our house was filled with the sounds of the folk revival. "Even then I knew that the music was for me — and for all of us. Folk music is a declaration of a particular kind of humanity — one that perseveres through life's difficulties and respects and cares for others. The title of Lonesome Traveler essentially comes from the idea that we all take a solitary journey through life — we come in and out of this world alone. But music is a great unifier — a great healer. It can help us feel a little less lost or alone."
The production team includes Tom Giamario (set and lighting designer), plus multimedia designer Dave Mickey; sound designer Jonathan Burke; costume designer Pamela Shaw; hair and wig designer Marty Kopulsky; and prop designer T. Theresa Scarano.
For tickets and information, call (805) 667-2900 or go to www.rubicontheatre.org.
Laguna Playhouse will present Rubicon Theatre Company's production of Lonesome Traveler in January 2012 at the Moulton Theatre in Laguna Beach, CA. Visit www.lagunaplayhouse.com.