By Kenneth Jones
14 May 2011
ASF playwright-in-residence John Walch teams with pop music legend Nile Rodgers on the development of the musical, which was commissioned by ASF's producing artistic director Geoffrey Sherman. Karen Azenberg, a busy director and choreographer at ASF, Pioneer Theatre Company and elsewhere, directs.
In the musical, according to ASF notes, "The writer, whose youth and cultural background create considerable artistic self-doubt, is encouraged by many around him. But no one is more helpful, literally, than the effervescent and ultra-talented tap-dancing spirit of the late Mr. Harper."
Walch is the musical's librettist, and Rodgers penned the music and lyrics. Actor James T. Lane played Ruby and Ozie in The Scottsboro Boys, which was nominated for 12 Tony Award nominations. The reading cast includes Jordan Coughtry, Nedra McClyde, Ronica Reddick, Dashiell Eaves, Billy Sharpe, David Boyd, Matthew E. Watkins, James Bowen, Corey Triplett, Bryan Terrell Clark andTara Herweg.
Walch's play, In the Book Of, will receive its world premiere at ASF during the 2011-12 season. Walch is the winner of several awards including the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays, The Mark Klein Playwriting Award, three Austin Critics Table Awards and a James Michener Fellowship.
Rodgers is a well-known musician, songwriter and record producer who has collaborated with Madonna, Duran Duran, Diana Ross, David Bowie and Eric Clapton. His group, Chic, has released a number of hits. Rodgers produced the album "Diana" for Diana Ross and wrote the songs "Upside Down" and "I'm Coming Out." He also produced Madonna's Album "Like a Virgin," Duran Duran's "Notorious" and the B-52s multi-platinum "Cosmic Thing," which spawned the hits "Love Shack" and "Roam."
The creative team includes musical director Doug Oberhamer, dramaturg Robert Ford, lighting designer Tom Rodman and stage manager Jen Nelson Lane.
For more information about ASF's Southern Writers' Project's concert readings and associated activities, contact the box office at (800) 841-4273 or visit www.southernwritersproject.net.
The Alabama Shakespeare Festival is located at 1 Festival Drive in Montgomery, AL, in the Blount Cultural Park.