Southern Comfort, Exploring Transgender Life, Opens July 24 at Barrington; Annette O'Toole and Jeff McCarthy Star
By Michael Gioia
Barrington Stage Company presents the BSC Musical Theatre Lab world-premiere production of Southern Comfort, a new musical with book and lyrics by Dan Collins and music by Julianne Wick Davis, officially opening July 24, following previews that began July 19, in Pittsfield, MA.
Directed by Thomas Caruso (associate director of Broadway's Matilda), performances continue through Aug. 10 at the St. Germain Stage at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center.
Southern Comfort stars Annette O'Toole ("Smallville") and Jeff McCarthy (Urinetown) alongside Todd Cerveris (South Pacific) as Sam, Lizzie Hagsteadt (Sweeney Todd national tour), Natalie Joy Johnson (Legally Blonde) as Carly, Jeffrey Kuhn (The 39 Steps) as Jackson, Elizabeth Ward Land, David Lutken (Inherit the Wind), Robin Skye (Parade) as Melanie and Joel Waggoner.
A musical with a folk/bluegrass score, Southern Comfort, according to BSC, "is a true story based on Kate Davis' 2001 Sundance Award-winning documentary about transgender friends in rural Georgia. Winner of the Jonathan Larson Award, Southern Comfort is the story of male transgendered Robert Eads (O'Toole) and his trans girlfriend Lola Cola (McCarthy) as they navigate life and its challenges in the back hills of 'Bubba Land' Georgia. A celebration of a uniquely American family living life openly, honestly and courageously in the community they have grown to love."
"From contemporary country to Appalachian bluegrass, the score mines the country's heart, and unveils, along its way, surprising pathways to a new world,” added BSC Musical Theatre Lab artistic producer William Finn in an earlier statement. "The remarkable Southern Comfort is about transformation, love, and redefining family."
Other members of the creative team include Emily Otto (music director), Shea Sullivan (choreographer), James Fenton (scenic design), Patricia Doherty (costume design), Ed McCarthy (lighting design), Joan Cappello (production stage manager) and Shakina Nayfack (associate producer). The production is conceived by Robert DuSold and Thomas Caruso.
A free post-show discussion will follow the July 31 7:30 PM performance, and a free "Conversations with…" event with Southern Comfort lyricist Collins and composer Wick Davis, along with members of the Berkshire transgendered community — as they discuss gender identity and social acceptance in today's world — will be held July 25 at 4 PM.
Southern Comfort was presented in a workshop production at CAP 21 in the fall of 2011 and at the National Alliance for Musical Theatre's 24th Festival of New Musicals in October 2012.
Barrington Stage Company is under the leadership of artistic director Julianne Boyd and managing director Tristan Wilson.
The St. Germain Stage at the Sydelle and Lee Blatt Performing Arts Center is located at 36 Linden Street in Pittsfield, MA. For more information and tickets, call (413) 236-8888 or visit BarringtonStageCo.org.
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