John Lescault, Natascia Diaz Sing the Rock-Musical Tale of Rasputin in Brother Russia, Opening March 20

By Kenneth Jones
20 Mar 2012

John Lescault
John Lescault
Photo by Scott Suchman

Dana Rowe and John Dempsey, the writers of the musicals The Fix and The Witches of Eastwick, have crafted a new pop-rock musical called Brother Russia, about the life and times of Rasputin, the mystic who mesmerized the czar of Russia. The show's world-premiere production opens March 20 following previews from March 6 at Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA.

The story of the controversial pre-Russian Revolution "Mad Monk," Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin, is directed by Signature artistic director Eric Schaeffer (Broadway's Follies). John Lescault (Signature's Art and The Lieutenant of Inishmore) plays the infamous religious figure.

Performances continue through April 15 at the Signature's MAX Theatre.

The cast also includes Natascia Diaz (Kiss of the Spider Woman at Signature and Broadway's The Capeman and Man of La Mancha); Doug Kreeger (Signature's The Visit); Amy McWilliams (Signature's The Witches of Eastwick and Urinetown); and Tracy Lynn Olivera (Les Misérables and Merrily We Roll Along at Signature), with Erin Driscoll, Stephen Gregory Smith, Rachel Zampelli, Russell Sunday, Kevin McAllister and Christopher Mueller.



Brother Russia features music by Rowe and book and lyrics by Dempsey.

Natascia Diaz and Doug Kreeger
photo by Scott Suchman

"Dana Rowe and John Dempsey have created magic on stage before with two astounding musicals here at Signature — The Fix and The Witches of Eastwick — that audiences really loved," director Schaeffer said in a statement. "We are thrilled to present their newest world premiere of Brother Russia with their distinct, infectious sound. Only John and Dana could create an exciting, new telling of the famous Rasputin story in their own original way."

Here's how Signature characterizes the show: "In a desolate potato field north of Omsk in southwestern Siberia, a comically fourth-rate Russian theatre troupe sets up its ratty tents and wows the local farmers with rock-fueled adaptations of from great Russian writers such as Tolstoy and Dostoevsky. Tonight, however, the company tosses classic literature aside to showcase the life story of their impresario and star, the seemingly immortal Brother Russia — more commonly known as Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin. Yes, that Rasputin: the hypnotic mystic who seduced and ruled the Tsar and Tsarina in the waning days of Imperial Russia."

The creative team includes includes Jodi Moccia (choreographer), Misha Kachman (set designer), Kathleen Geldard (costume designer), Colin K. Bills (lighting designer) and Matt Rowe (sound designer). Gabriel Mangiante is the music director. Orchestrator August Eriksmoen conducts the seven-piece band.

For tickets call (703) 820-9771 or go to www.signature-theatre.org.