Titanic veterans Sean McCourt and Matthew Bennett close their collaborative play with music, Ten Years Apart May 2 at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park's Thompson Shelterhouse Theatre. The musical drama opened April 8.
Aside from the regular run, there will be an added benefit performance of Ten Years Apart at 7 PM May 2. Proceeds will go to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, a cause close to Bennett who lost his wife actress Dorrie Joiner to complications from the disease.
Following the Cincinnati closing, McCourt and Bennett will bring the show to New York for a one-night industry preview, 7 PM May 10 at Theater Three (311 W. 43rd St). Thirty seats are still available. To reserve a place, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
In Ten Years Apart, two musician brothers, Orville (Bennett) and Parker (McCourt) Anderson, are brought back together by the death of their father. Although they have been separated most of their lives, they discover their adulthoods have run strangely parallel to one another with one uniting feature: music.
Bennett and McCourt perform over a dozen roles. As men and women, ranging in age from 4-60, the two portray a multitude of personalities aside from the two brothers, including Clay Larsen, Orville's best friend and drummer, Jonas Washington, Parker's cool best friend and pianist, Z, a mysterious stranger who visits Orville in jail, and Gerald, Parker's biggest fan. Both actors play nearly as many instruments, from the traditional, such as electric guitar, piano, harmonica, double bass and drums, to the unusual like eggs and a baseball bat.
Ten Years Apart's musical styles range from folk to rock 'n' roll (Orville leads a Decatur, IL country band, Parker plays jazz in Philadelphia). Ten Years Apart's songs are "I Don't Even Know Him," "Willis," "Big Top," "As Always," "Oh Brother," "The Lottery," "Set Me Free," "Was It Something I Said," "H.B.L.T.Y.," "Keeper of the Forest," "Another Resurrection," "Somewhere on the Road," and "Follow Me to Heaven." The song "Willis" was featured on Sean McCourt's debut solo recording, "Stick Figure Dancing."
Bennett most recently appeared as Thomas Andrews in the Broadway production of Titanic. Other New York credits include Floyd Collins, Honky Tonk Highway, and the 1991 cabaret piece Crooners Anonymous which he co-wrote and directed. McCourt made his Broadway debut as Joseph Boxhall/Jay Yates in Titanic. He has performed Off-Broadway in Woody Guthrie's American Song, Honky Tonk Highway and The Last Romeo, his own solo musical piece.
The two met on Honky Tonk in 1994 but began their collaboration on Ten Years Apart in 1996 while Bennett was in Floyd Collins and McCourt was doing The Grapes of Wrath in Albany, NY. The two began to write letters back and forth in the voices of various characters.
As McCourt describes it: "We began correspondence as the fictional brothers, Orville and Parker Anderson. I wrote Matt a letter recalling our father in a favorable light. He responded with a very different picture of our father from his memory. Every day for months, we exchanged letters and scenes written with only one voice. The other guy would return the scene with the missing dialogue filled in. Meanwhile, we would write lyrics in search of tunes and tunes in search of lyrics. Before too long, we had about 500 pages of letters and scenes which we then began compiling into a theatrical framework and rewriting as scenes. Ironically, the only letters which remain in the show three years later are those original two. They are largely untouched to this day. I guess you call that beginner's luck."
Gloria Muzio directs Ten Years Apart. She is best known for 2 Pianos, 4 Hands , as well as helming Other People's Money, Below the Belt and Grace and Glorie. Muzio is Vice President of the Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers.
The design team includes Allen Moyer (sets), Holly Cole (costumes), Gerald King (lighting) and David B. Smith (sound). Jenifer Morrow is the stage manager.
Tickets are $38-$31 and available by calling the box office at 513-421 3888 or 1-800-582-3208. The Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park is located at 962 Mt. Adams Circle.
-- By Christine Ehren