Duncan Sheik Will Conjure Ghosts in New Musical for Stamford Center in 2008

By Kenneth Jones
May 4, 2007

Stamford Center for the Performing Arts, the Connecticut organization that presents and produces at two commuter-friendly venues just north of New York City, has commissioned Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow to create a new musical.

The project, about lighthouses and ghosts on the East Coast during World War II, was initiated by director Keith Powell, who mentioned the idea to Sheik and brought it to Stamford's executive director Kenneth A. Wesler. Powell is Stamford's new artist in residence.

The project is still in its early stages, Powell told Playbill.com. A production target date is the 2008-09 season at SCA's 750-seat Rich Forum. The musical is part of SCA's refreshed effort to establish itself as a resident Equity theatre, with an identity of new works that you can't necessarily see in New York City.

Powell, who will direct, said he and the authors and some friends will gather in Manhattan this spring to work through some of the material and find a musical voice for it with Sheik strumming a guitar in a reading.

The composer is a little preoccupied at the moment: His Spring Awakening (with lyricist-librettist Steven Sater) earned a shower of award nominations in recent weeks and is expected to be a big name in the 2007 Tony Awards. Nominations are announced May 15.

Kyle Jarrow penned book, music and lyrics to the Obie Award-winning A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant.

Powell, who has a recurring role on TV's "30 Rock," said the idea for the musical has its seeds in an acting job he took in Maine a few years ago. He toured some local lighthouses and heard ghost stories about the dwellings.

"I called Duncan Sheik and said, 'I don't know exactly what I want to do with you, but I know I want it to include ghosts and lighthouses," Powell said with a laugh.

On Stamford's plate for 2007-08 is Keith Powell's Harlem Renaissance-set version of Jan de Hartog's The Fourposter, previously seen in a production by Powell's Contemporary Stage Company in Wilmington, DE. Keith David and Jasmine Guy are expected to repeat their performances in Connecticut. Director Powell is bringing a new design team on board.

Performances of The Fourposter, the warm play that traces the 40-year history of a marriage, will be at the Rich Forum in November-December.

In September-October, the Stamford resident season will begin with The Bird Sanctuary, making its area premiere. Frank McGuinness' newest play, which had its U.S. premiere at Pittsburgh Public Theater, is "a mystical family comedy-drama" set in Dublin, in "a family home that overlooks the Booterstown Bird Sanctuary," according to Stamford. Elizabeth Franz will star, and the play introduces five Henrysons: sisters Eleanor and Marianne, their brother Robert, his wife Tina and their son Stephen. Kent Paul will direct, at the Rich Forum.

A third production for 2007-08 will be announced.

For more information about the Stamford Center, visit www.scalive.org.