Beth Leavel, Carolee Carmello, Barbara Walsh, Caissie Levy and More Set for Sundance Lab of Michael John LaChiusa's First Daughter Suite

By Adam Hetrick
20 Nov 2013

Beth Leavel
Beth Leavel

Tony Award winner Beth Leavel, Tony nominees Carolee Carmello, Kathleen Chalfant and Barbara Walsh as well as Leslie Kritzer and Caissie Levy will be part of Michael John LaChiusa's First Daughter Suite, a companion to his Off-Broadway musical First Lady Suite, which will be developed as part of the Sundance Institute's December Theatre Lab at Mass MoCA.

Held Dec. 1-15, the Theatre Lab is dedicated to nurturing musical theatre and ensemble-generated projects. It is run under the supervision of Sundance artistic director Philip Himberg and producing director Christopher Hibma.

In addition to Leavel (The Drowsy Chaperone), Carmello (Scandalous), Chalfant (Angels in America), Walsh (Company), Kritzer (A Catered Affair) and Levy (Les Miserables), the cast will include Kathryn Boswell, Jessica Grove (Sunday in the Park with George), Luba Mason (How to Succeed in Business…), Theresa McCarthy (Floyd Collins), Isabel Santiago (Giant), Elizabeth Stanley (Hello Again), Carly Tamer (Billy Elliot) and Mary Testa (Queen of the Mist).

Sundance also selected a new work by the Fiasco Theater, which presented inventive productions of Into the Woods and Cymbeline to acclaim in recent seasons, as well as a new solo work by Sandra Tsing Loh.



Creative advisors include Public Theater artistic director Oskar Eustis and librettist Sybille Pearson (Giant, Baby). Dramaturgs are Janice Paran and Mame Hunt.

Here's a look at the projects:

First Daughter Suite
Words and music by Michael John LaChiusa
Directed by Kirsten Sanderson
"First Daughter Suite is a part of a cycle of musical plays that are a fantasia based on historical characters and real events. First Daughter Suite explores the complex dynamic between mothers and daughters, as experienced by the women and children closest to the President of the United States. Patricia Nixon and her daughters, Tricia and Julie; Amy Carter and Susan Ford and their mothers, Rosalynn and Betty; Patti Davis and her mother, Nancy Reagan; and Barbara Bush and her daughter-in-law, Laura; all face obstacles and dilemmas that, in spite of the rarified environment of the White House and accompanying travails of the Presidency, are common to us all."

Madwoman in the Volvo
Written and performed by Sandra Tsing Loh
Directed by Lisa Peterson
"Loh is developing a solo show based on her new memoir 'The Madwoman in the Volvo: My Year of Raging Hormones.' Inspired by her darkly hilarious 2012 Atlantic Monthly Best American Essay 'The Bitch Is Back,' The Madwoman in the Volvo charts Loh's roller-coaster ride into menopause while battling the pressures of the Sandwich Generation. Loh is a veteran public radio commentator who has previously starred in two original off-Broadway solo shows. Her last memoir was the New York Times notable book 'Mother on Fire.'"

Untitled Project
Fiasco Theater
Actors include Jessie Austrian, Noah Brody, Paul L. Coffey, Michael Pearlman, Ben Steinfeld and Emily Young
"Fiasco Theater will be developing a new play for the first time in its history. Having brought its acclaimed actor-driven, stripped-down, physically robust, musically enhanced style to the interpretation of classics (Cymbeline, Into the Woods), Fiasco will now turn its creative energy to the exploration of a new piece. The ensemble will bring years of exciting collaboration and process building to this experiment in making new work. Participants will include Fiasco company members Jessie Austrian, Noah Brody, Paul L. Coffey, Ben Steinfeld and Emily Young."

Artists in residence will be Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis, who will be working on Trigger, "a theatrical oratorio for 32 college singers, that delves into mental health and violence in America prompted by the Virginia Tech Massacre."

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