Of all the groups who shaped and formed modern folk music, few have had the lasting impact of "The Weavers," that seminal quartet of Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays and Fred Hellerman. Jim Brown's 1982 documentary, "Wasn't That A Time," covered the group's final concert shortly before Hays' death and seemed to mark the final chapter in the singers' story. But a new revue, conceived by James Kaplan of the American Folklore Theatre, intends to keep the music going. Goodnight Irene: The Music Of `The Weavers' opened Jan. 11 at the Stackner Cabaret of Milwaukee Repertory Theatre and plays there through March 2.
Goodnight Irene, which was assembled by Kaplan and American Folklore Theatre Co-Founder Fred Alley, had a record-breaking run at AFT's 1994 Fall Town Hall Series, followed by a remounting on the theatre's mainstage in 1996. The Stackner staging will be directed by AFT artistic director, Jeffrey Herbst.
Songs in the show will be classic `Weaver' tunes, including "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine," "Wimoweh," Seeger/Hays' "If I Had A Hammer," "When The Saints Go Marching In" and the title tune. Alley and Kaplan have also written linking material that tells stories about The Weavers and explains the origins of several songs.
Castmembers for Goodnight Irene are Alley, Chris Irwin, Lauren Anne Post and Ryan Richardson, who don't exactly play the Weavers but tell stories about them and about the songs. Designers for the revue are David Torney (set), Corina Apanius (costumes), and Robert Zenoni (lighting).
For tickets ($11-$15) and information on Goodnight Irene call (414) 224-9490.
--By David Lefkowitz