Countdown to Curtain:
Talking with JAMES MAGRUDER, Librettist
No surprise that Triumph Of Love librettist James Magruder doesn't have a set ritual for Broadway opening nights: this is his first.
Magruder holds a doctorate from Yale School of Drama, as well as a degree in French Literature. He first adapted/translated Triumph back in 1993 for its premiere at Center Stage, where he serves as resident dramaturg. Still, for all his triumphs with Triumph, Magruder never assumed Broadway would be part of his game plan: "I'm a show queen from years back," Magruder told Playbill On-Line (Oct. 6), "so I know them all, and I'm a dramaturg, so I know what makes shows work. But I never thought my Yale dissertation would turn into a Broadway musical. For me it's a freak accident, it's all gravy."
Asked if the show was now "frozen," Magruder said, "Oh no, right up to the last minute. I think we'll be freezing the show a little earlier than I thought, but you know the old saying, even after opening night, musicals are never finished, they're just abandoned. Today I'm going to a meeting at 2 for more tinkering. We're still working on setting up the world and who the people are. We've discovered after 10 previews, it's still a little confusing to unload all that exposition. We're simplifying the opening and making one of the numbers a bit more complex. Also, I'm looking for the jokes that don't land and pressing buttons to create more flow. We threw a bunch of changes at the cast in the middle of last week, so it took them awhile to adjust to that, but otherwise it's fine. We took off 8-10 minutes, so now we're getting out at 10:28 PM and want to maintain that."
Asked how the show has adapted to the needs of Broadway, Magruder said, "Since New Haven, we've brought on musical supervisor Michael Kosarin for continuity and arrangements. He's unified the sound of the score and arranged it for a relatively small (11 pieces) orchestra." Magruder will be in the audience on opening night of Triumph. "I know some writers and composers are too nervous, but I watch the show and I always have a good time. Maybe I'll begin some rituals this year but I really don't have one yet. Of course, the next day, it's rush and get the papers!"