Anna Nicole Opera, With Sarah Joy Miller, Mary Testa and James Barbour, Premieres at BAM Sept. 17-28
By Adam Hetrick
Anna Nicole, the Mark-Anthony Turnage-Richard Thomas opera about late tabloid and reality star Anna Nicole Smith, receives its U.S. debut at the Brooklyn Academy of Music beginning Sept. 17 as part of BAM's Next Wave Festival. It is a co-production with New York City Opera.
Performances are scheduled through Sept. 28 at the Gilman Opera House. The opera premiered at London's Royal Opera House in 2011.
Thomas is known as the author of Jerry Springer: The Opera. Turnage has penned the operas The Silver Tassie and Greek.
The cast features a mix of classical and Broadway performers including Sarah Joy Miller as Anna Nicole, James Barbour (A Tale of Two Cities) as Daddy Hogan, Rod Gilfry (South Pacific) as Stern, Christina Sajous (American Idiot) as Blossom, Mary Testa (A New Brain, Queen of the Mist) as Aunt Kaye, Susan Bickley as Virgie, Robert Brubaker as Old Man Marshall, Ben Davis (A Little Night Music) as Billy, John Easterlin as Larry King, Joshua Jeremiah as Deputy Mayor, Stephen Wallem ("Nurse Jackie") as Trucker, Elizabeth Pojanowski as Shelley, Richard Troxell as Doctor Yes and Michael Hance as Mayor of Mexia.
Richard Jones, who helmed the London premiere, returns for the BAM staging. It is conducted by Steve Sloane and features scenic design by Miriam Buether, costume design by Nicky Gillibrand, lighting design by Mimi Jordan Sherin and D.M. Wood and choreography by Aletta Collins.
According to the creators, "Anna Nicole tells the story of Anna Nicole Smith, a small-town Texas waitress (and later, exotic dancer) in pursuit of the American Dream. Smith wed an octogenarian billionaire and became a Playboy model and tabloid celebrity, living a life of excess and substance abuse under the constant glare of the media until her death at the age of 39. This dynamic production mixes comedy and tragedy and boldly confronts issues of modern celebrity, greed, and exploitation."
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