Tales from the O'Neill: Technology and Theatre Combine in Broadcast at the National Music Theater Conference

By Sophia Saifi
05 Jul 2013

Scott Murphy
In Broadcast, the audience travels through time with the characters. At one moment a trio of disenchanted telegraph operators are jolted out of their reverie when news of the Titanic sinking arrives, while in another scene a young boy tries to capture a signal with the help of a Quaker Oats box. Couples fight and fall in love, mothers nurture and fade away, and all their stories are somehow touched by the power of radio.

When discussing the relevance of Broadcast to current issues, Paulette Haupt, the artistic director of the conference, said, "technology is changing and the way we communicate today is so different from two years. Broadcast is a microcosm of that macrocosm. I think Scott and Nathan really have a unified vision about what they want to say. Scott's music and Nathan's words just absorb each other."

Thirty characters are played by eight actors and the cast working at the O'Neill consisted of Wesley Taylor, Chris Mccarrel, Jared Zirilli, Tommy McDowell, Jonathan Hadley, Farah Alvin, Theresa Mccarthy and Whitney Bashor.

"Its an ambitious piece," said Farah Alvin. "The only character we follow from beginning to end is radio and they're able to pull that off successfully and that's quite a feat."

Murphy's music takes inspiration from telegraph beeps and signals. When explaining it, he said, "It's the notion of the sound wave and the ocean and the first time the sound came across and the fusion of that. The first sound has a lilt to it. It was the sound of the waves, the waves of the ocean and the waves of the sound, and that little accompaniment figure goes all the way through."

Broadcast is rich in Americana and nostalgia yet pulsating with a present-day relevance, dealing with issues that glare out at us from our computer screens.

Nathan Christensen summed up Broadcast in one phrase, saying, "Technology can be magic and overwhelming and terrifying,"

Single tickets to the Music Theatre Conference performances are now on sale to the general public. They can be purchased by calling (860) 443-1238 or visiting theoneill.org.

The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center was founded in 1964 and is based in Waterford, CT. Programs at the Center include the Puppetry Conference, Playwrights Conference, Critics Institute, Music Theater Conference and the National Theater Institute. The Monte Cristo Cottage, O'Neill's childhood home, is also owned and operated by the group.