The musical by librettist Michael Hollinger and composer-lyricist Michael Ogborn concerns the tulip craze of 1637 in the Netherlands, which mirrors stock and housing crises of modern times.
According to Arden notes, "The tulip trade provokes a father to betray everything he knows and loves in his insatiable quest for stature, respect and money. As his tulip investments reach a dizzying height, the tulip market takes a precipitous fall. Can he repair what he has broken or replace what he has lost?"
This is the Arden's first commissioned musical, bringing together two of its favorite writers, Hollinger (Opus, An Empty Plate in the Café du Grand Boeuf) and Ogborn (Baby Case, Café Puttanesca), who are both winners of Barrymore Awards in Philadelphia.
Arden calls Tulipomania "a touching and funny comedy about how dreams and desires can dangerously turn into obsession."
Arden artistic director Terrence J. Nolen is directing, with composer-lyricist Ogborn serving as accompanist and musical director. The short workshop began Jan. 22. The workshop cast includes Scott Boulware, Adam Heller, Douglas Ullman, Jr., Ben Dibble, Liz Filios, Mary Martello, Richard Ruiz, Scott Greer and Chris Mullen.
The passion for tulip bulbs in the 17th century "resulted in a bubble not unlike the technology bubble of the 1990s and, more recently, the housing bubble that just recently burst," according to the Arden. "During 17th century 'tulipomania,' bourgeois Dutch were overtaken by an unprecedented obsession with the tulip. Prices skyrocketed, and citizens left solid professions and pawned the tools of their trades to speculate in bulbs."
Hollinger stated, "We envision this piece to be comprised of love, sex, money, power, and at the heart of it all, a bloom — organic, mortal, and prized for looks alone."
The workshop is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts and The Shubert Foundation. An earlier workshop took place in the spring of 2007 and was funded by the National Alliance of Musical Theatre.