In 2010, Vanity Fair published an article about Cary Grant...using LSD...in the 1950s. James Lapine (Into the Woods, Sunday in the Park With George, Falsettos) says, “I was shocked. LSD to me was the late 60s, Timothy Leary, that whole generation. I had no idea it was around in the 1950s and people were using it, and it got me really kind of jazzed.”
As Lapine continued down his LSD rabbit hole, he found out that Aldous Huxley, acclaimed author, screenwriter, and intellectual, brought LSD (which was legal at the time) into the cultural conversation with his book Doors of Perception. And then Lapine found out that conservative Republican Clare Boothe Luce, a war journalist, playwright, Congresswoman, and Ambassador, also did LSD.
So he wondered: Why did these three disparate people all turn to this psychedelic drug?
He explores the question—alongside collaborators composer Tom Kitt, lyricist Michael Korie, and tap choreographer Michelle Dorrance—in Lincoln Center Theater’s new original musical Flying Over Sunset.
In the first act, Grant (Tony Yazbeck), Huxley (Harry Hadden-Paton), and Luce (Carmen Cusack) each take LSD for the first time—and Lapine sticks to history. But in Act 2, he imagines what it would be like if the trio dropped acid together. But don’t just think of Flying Over Sunset as “the LSD musical.” Through the sweeping score and deeply personal plots, Lapine and company explore the lives of these three stars as they use LSD to introspect and discover deep psychological truths.
Watch the video above to hear Yazbeck, Hadden-Paton, and Cusack, as well as Erika Henningsen and Michele Ragusa, sing from Kitt and Korie’s score and divulge discoveries about their characters and the story that will make its world premiere when the musical begins previews March 12.