Hard Times, New Musical About Stephen Foster, Begins Performances Jan. 9

By Carey Purcell
09 Jan 2014

Hard Times, Larry Kirwan's musical about songwriter Stephen Foster, plays the cell, with performances beginning Jan 9. The production will officially open Jan. 13, marking the 150th anniversary of Foster's death.



Hard Times continues through Feb. 2.

Directed by Kira Simring, the cast includes Jed Peterson as Stephen Foster, Jennifer Lorae as Jane Foster, Almeria Campbell as Nelly Blythe, James Sasser as Michael Jenkins, Stephane Duret as Thomas Jefferson and John Charles McLaughlin as Owen Duignan.

Here's how the production is described: "Set in a saloon in Lower Manhattan's notorious Five Points in 1863, Hard Times combines the story of America's first great songwriter Stephen Foster and a neighborhood under siege and about to explode with ethnic frictions that will determine the destiny of contemporary New York. Through a re-imagining of Stephen Foster's songbook, combined with new music material by Mr. Kirwan, Hard Times explores New York City Civil War tensions with a modern musical and dramatic sensibility."

At a post-performance party Jan. 13, all audience and cast members will salute the "father of American music," whose songs include "Oh! Susanna," "Camptown Races," "Old Folks at Home" ("Swanee River"), "Hard Times Come Again No More," "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair" and "Beautiful Dreamer," with shots of Irish whiskey.

Hard Times features choreography by Joe Barros, scenic and prop design by Dara Wishingrad, lighting design by Gertjan Houben, orchestrations by Andrew Smithson and musical direction by Rona Siddiqui. Jason Najjoum is casting director.

Tickets and more information are available by calling (800) 838-3006 or visiting thecelltheatre.org.