Manhattan Concert of Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock Set for Feb. 8

News   Manhattan Concert of Blitzstein's The Cradle Will Rock Set for Feb. 8
Marc Blitzstein's politically charged 1937 musical The Cradle Will Rock will receive a one-night-only concert performance in Manhattan Feb. 8.

Downtown Music Productions will present the 3 PM concert of the timely musical at St. Mark's Church. The Cradle Will Rock will have musical direction by Mimi Stern-Wolfe and stage direction by Lisa Brailoff.

The cast will comprise Rob Schoenbohn, Greg Senf, Laura Newman, Ezra Barnes, Rayna Hickman, Mark Peters, Michael Iannucci, Kate Canary, Steven Graybill, Michael Schilke, Felice Rosser, Paul J. Malamphy, Darcy Dunn, Mark Singer, Steve Sieck, Alex Michaels, Tom Savage, Joshua Lee Issacs, Ben Strothmann and James Solomon Benn.

"Set in 'Steeltown, USA,'" The Cradle Will Rock, according to press notes, "follows the efforts of Larry Foreman to unionize and otherwise combat wicked businessman Mr. Mister. Blitzstein portrays a whole panoply of societal figures: Mr. Mister's vicious, outwardly genteel philanthropic wife and spoiled children, sell-out artists, poor shopkeepers, immigrant families, a faithless priest, and an endearing prostitute named Moll."

First directed by Orson Welles and produced by John Houseman as part of the Federal Theatre Project, The Cradle Will Rock was born into theatre legend when the U. S. government, fearing the allegorical work was too anti-establishment, shut down the production on opening night in 1937 and seized possession of the orchestral charts, scripts, scenery and costumes.

Spurred on by Welles and Houseman, the audience and cast traveled uptown to the Venice Theater where composer Marc Blitzstein, alone at an onstage piano, began to narrate and perform The Cradle Will Rock for a packed audience of 1,742. The cast of Cradle, who were forbidden by Actors Equity to perform on stage, began to perform the musical from various points throughout the audience. To this day, The Cradle Will Rock is performed as a minimally staged work, incorporating narration from the accompanist, as with the 1983 Acting Company revival directed by John Houseman and starring Patti LuPone.

The infamous birth of The Cradle Will Rock was also captured by actor and director Tim Robbins in the 1999 film "Cradle Will Rock." The film, which offers glimpses of the production, boasts performances from theatre veterans including Victoria Clark, Gregg Edelman, Audra McDonald and Daniel Jenkins.

There is a suggested donation of $15 for The Cradle Will Rock. For reservations phone (212) 477-1594. St. Mark's Church is located at 131 East 10th Street in the East Village.

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