God may have created great whales, but he did not get give them infinate life spans. And God Created Great Whales, composer-performer Rinde Eckert's newest musical theatre piece, closes June 25, after opening June 11. Previews began June 1 at Dance Theatre Workshop's Bessie Schonberg Theatre.
Taking its title from a Biblical quote used in Herman Melville's "Moby Dick," Great Whales investigates the mind of an artist through a composer whose brain is slowly being destroyed by a disease. Every morning, the gifted man must press "Play" on the tape recorder around his neck to remember who he is and what he's doing. What he's doing is desperately trying to finish his opera on "Moby Dick" before the disease destroys too much of him to complete it.
Eckert is best known for performing and writing the libretto to Ravenshead. Based on the true story of Donald Crowhurst (renamed Richard Ravenshead in the piece), Ravenshead follows the slow unraveling of the man's mind as he sails in the 1968 Golden Globe, a non stop solo race around the world. The one-man, two act-opera premiered at Berkeley Rep in 1998 and will be performed at the Mark Taper Forum in fall of 2000.
Nora Cole joins Eckert in Great Whales. Her credits include Broadway's On the Town and Jelly's Last Jam opposite Gregory Hines.
David Schweizer directs. Schweizer, after directing premieres from Sam Shepard, Albert Innaurato and Michael Weller, has helmed the Vineyard's The Waiting Room, Austin Pendleton's Booth and both Sandra Tsing Loh solo pieces, Aliens in America and Bad Sex With Bud Kemp. Tickets are $25. The Dance Theatre Workshop's Bessie Schonberg Theatre is located at 219 West 19th Street. For tickets, call (212) 924-0077.
And God Created Great Whales is a production of The Foundry Theatre. The three time Obie winning company has hosted Gertrude & Alice: A Likeness To Loving, directed by Anne Bogart, W. David Hancock's The Race of the Ark Tattoo and Deviant Craft and Hot Mouth by Grisha Coleman. Future projects include Talk with poet and recording artist Carl Hancock Rux and a Alice Tuan adaptation of the 17th-century Jacobean play, The Roaring Girl.
-- By Christine Ehren