Musicals The Hollow and Boy Detective Get World-Premiere Openings in VA Sept. 11

News   Musicals The Hollow and Boy Detective Get World-Premiere Openings in VA Sept. 11
Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, will do something unprecedented in American regional theatre, as far as any research can tell: On Sept. 11, the Tony Award-honored company will open two world-premiere musicals on the same day — The Boy Detective Fails in the afternoon and The Hollow in the evening.

Anika Larsen and Stephen Gregory Smith in The Boy Detective Fails.
Anika Larsen and Stephen Gregory Smith in The Boy Detective Fails. Photo by Scott Suchman

The shows began in rotating repertory Aug. 23 as part of the Signature commission initiative known as the American Musical Voices Project: Next Generation World Premiere Repertory Series. Both works play an eight-week schedule in the company's MAX venue in Signature's home in the Arlington enclave known as Shirlington Village.

The series began Aug. 23 with the first performance of The Hollow, by librettist Hunter Foster and composer-lyricist Matt Conner, inspired by Washingon Irving's writing. Sam Ludwig (Signature's [title of show] and Show Boat) plays Irving's famous literary character Ichabod Crane in The Hollow.

The first performance of Boy Detective by librettist Joe Meno and composer-lyricist Adam Gwon was Aug. 25.

Heading the cast of The Boy Detective Fails is Helen Hayes Award winner Stephen Gregory Smith (Signature's Les Miserables, 110 in the Shade) as the Boy Detective and Anika Larsen (Broadway's Avenue Q and Xanadu on Broadway) as Penny.

The repertory cast appearing in both musicals includes Whitney Bashor, Evan Casey, Sherri Edelen, James Gardiner, Tracy Lynn Olivera, Margo Seibert, Thomas Adrian Simpson, Russell Sunday and Harry A. Winter. Performances of both shows play every Saturday and Sunday "to provide audience members the opportunity to see both in one day."

The Hollow (to Oct.16) is directed by Signature Theatre's associate artistic director Matthew Gardiner. The Boy Detective Fails (to Oct. 16) is directed by Signature Theatre artistic associate Joe Calarco (Shakespeare's R&J, Signature's Urinetown and Assassins).

Hunter Foster

The Hollow is billed as "a distinctive reinterpretation" of Washington Irving's classic tale "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." Following Nevermore and Partial Eclipse, this is Conner's third musical production at Signature Theatre. Foster, a Tony-nominated actor (Little Shop of Horrors, plus Urinetown and Million Dollar Quartet), wrote the musical Summer of '42 as well as a new musical Bonnie and Clyde.

Read's recent Brief Encounter interview with Foster, who talks about the creation of The Hollow. The Boy Detective Fails is based on the Joe Meno novel of the same name. According to Signature, "In the twilight of a childhood full of wonder, Billy Argo, 'boy detective,' is brokenhearted to discover his young sister and crime-solving partner, Caroline, has committed suicide. Ten years later, Billy, age 30, returns from an extended stay at St. Vitus' Hospital for the Mentally Ill to discover a world full of unimaginable strangeness."

Songwriter Adam Gwon is known for the musical Ordinary Days, seen Off-Broadway and regionally, and preserved on a cast album.

The creative team working on The Hollow and The Boy Detective Fails includes Helen Hayes Award-winning choreographer Karma Camp (Urinetown and more than 35 productions at Signature); set designer Derek McLane (Tony Award winner for 33 Variations); Helen Hayes Award-winning lighting designer Chris Lee (Kiss of the Spider Woman is among his 17 Signature productions); Hayes-nominated costume designer Kathleen Geldard (The Neverending Story and more than 13 productions at Signature); and sound designer Matt Rowe (more than 20 productions at Signature).

Signature managing director Maggie Boland said in a statement, "With more than $780,000 in direct support having been awarded to musical theatre artists through our American Musical Voices Project to date, Signature is very proud to extend our commitment to these Next Generation composers to include full production of their extraordinary new works."

Major support comes from The Shen Family Foundation, administered by Ted and Mary Jo Shen.

The Signature's 22nd season includes five world premieres. For more information, visit

Sam Ludwig and company in <i>The Hollow</i>.
Sam Ludwig and company in The Hollow. Photo by Scott Suchman
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