Liz Swados' La MaMa Cantata, Preserving Words of Ellen Stewart, Gets Cast Album

By Adam Hetrick
December 28, 2011

The words of late La MaMa e.t.c. founder Ellen Stewart will sing on in the new cast album of La MaMa Cantata, the oratorio by Tony Award nominee Liz Swados, which was recorded Dec. 28 in Manhattan.



Swados (Runaways, Kaasper Hauser) conceived, authored and directed the multi-lingual oratorio that debuted Nov. 7-8 at La MaMa e.t.c. It will receive two encore presentations Dec. 29 and 30 at 7:30 PM; the latter will be live-streamed.

The cast assembled at Avatar Studios Dec. 28 to record the album. A release date has not been announced. 

The cast includes Max Bisantz, Catherine Brookman (Hair on Broadway), Starr Busby, Michael Castillejos, Nicholas Caycedo, Charnele Crick, Rachael Duddy, Roe Hartrampf, Tom Hennes, Josephine Huang, Preston Martin (Kaasper Hauser), Grace McLean (The Last Goodbye), Alicia Miles Olatuja, Jeanna Phillips, Maya Sharpe (Hair in London), Edwin Sutton, Shaina Taub and Hannah Whitney.

The performers are accompanied by piano and percussion. The work has musical direction and arrangements by Swados' collaborator and co-director Kris Kukul.

La MaMa Cantata uses Stewart's spoken and written words for its text. The Nov. 7 premiere marked what would have been Stewart's 92nd birthday. The founder of the landmark experimental theatre died Jan. 13 at age 91.

According to Swados, the Cantata is "as funny as it is celebratory and a memorial to Ellen. It's about La MaMa and its philosophies and influences on world theatre. The music is meant to reflect the whole world and the many uses of rhythm and voice at La MaMa through the years. La MaMa is a magical place and being part of it is like going around the world."

Swados earned Tony nominations for her work as composer, lyricist, book writer, choreographer and director of Runaways. She has penned book, music and lyrics for Kaasper Hauser, Alice in Concert as well as Lullabye and Goodnight, The Trilogy, Nightclub Cantata and Groundhog.

Tickets are available by calling (212) 475-7710 or by visiting LaMaMa. La MaMa e.t.c. is located at 74A East 4th Street in Manhattan.