CandleDancing, a new "medieval" musical drama by an American playwright and a British composer, will have its world premiere in Pittsburgh, April 14-25.
Written by Coni Ciongoli Koepfinger, with a requiem and original classical score by Robert Hugill, CandleDancing is the story of Will, a street urchin with a sweet voice and a knack for writing poetry. His talent is controlled by a candle in an abbey. Soon Fr. Peter, the choir director, discovers that Will's creative spirit belongs to Julian of Norwich, a female medieval anchorite [hermit], poet, and mystic. When Peter tries to uncover Will's link to the divine -- and in the process creates unwelcome media attention and scandal -- church officials intervene, and all involved find themselves in trouble.
The partnership of Koepfinger, Hugill, and producer Marie Mersinger came about via the Internet. "Coni sent me an e-mail press release about [another show]," Mersinger says. "We found we had a lot in common... she was very plugged in to the historical traditions of theatre and religion. The one grows out of the other over and over again, and I was jazzed to find someone actually writing plays exploring that relationship. We've been looking for a chance to work together ever since."
Josie Carey, a popular Pittsburgh children's TV star, stars as Mother Superior. She created "The Children's Corner" with Fred Rogers before he went on to do "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood."
The creative team includes director Denny Martin, choreographer Elizabeth Dunn, and musical director Laura Beth Daniels. CandleDancing is being presented by Veronica's Veil Players and Healing Arts Theatre April 14-25 at Veronica's Veil Auditorium, 44 Pius St., Pittsburgh. Tickets are $15. For tickets and information, call (412) 431-5550.
-- by Diane Snyder