Burnt Part Boys, a Musical Journey of Orphans, Opens in NYC Premiere

News   Burnt Part Boys, a Musical Journey of Orphans, Opens in NYC Premiere
Bluegrass music and the mist of the West Virginia mountains fill the air at Playwrights Horizons on West 42nd Street for the New York City premiere of The Burnt Part Boys, the new musical opening May 25.

Charlie Brady and Al Calderon
Charlie Brady and Al Calderon Photo by Joan Marcus

Playwrights Horizons and Vineyard Theatre team up to produce the coming-of-age musical penned by alumni of NYU: Mariana Elder (book), Chris Miller (music) and Nathan Tysen (lyrics). Previews began April 30.

The project was also developed at Barrington Stage Company (in a full production) and at New York Stage & Film at Vassar in recent years.

Director Joe Calarco, using ladders, ropes and chairs and wood planks, revels in bare-bones theatricality to create the harsh world of Kennedy-era coal-mining country, where a handful of teen-age orphans of an earlier mine disaster make a pilgrimage to the scene of their loss. The journey deepens their bonds, and the destination changes their lives.

(The title refers to the scar on the mountain — "the burnt part" — where the decade-old mining accident happened. The coal company wants to reopen the mine, prompting action from the heirs of the pain.)

Here's how the producing partners characterize the 100-minute musical play: "Coal country, West Virginia, 1962. Fourteen year-old Pete [Al Calderon] is fighting to claim his past. His older brother Jake [Charlie Brady] is hoping to forge a future. With their friends, they've embarked on a life-altering journey to the mine that took their father's life. Featuring a vibrant, haunting bluegrass and pop-inspired score, this gripping new musical from an acclaimed new team will capture your heart as it finds the streaks of light within the darkness." Young Pete conjures characters from his favorite film, "The Alamo," to help inspire him on his mission to keep his father's mine-grave a sacred place. Michael Park plays the ghost of Pete and Jake's dad, plus Jim Bowie, Davy Crockett and Sam Houston.

The limited engagement runs through June 13 at Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theater.

The cast of The Burnt Part Boys features Brady (South Pacific) as conflicted older brother Jake, an 18-year-old miner who has had to fill his father's shoes; Calderon (13) as feisty Pete, who wants to destroy to old mine; Andrew Durand (Spring Awakening, Yank!) as Jake's miner pal, Chet, who may be a company man the rest of his life; Steve French (Manifesto at Second Stage) as Miner Tinns; Noah Galvin (Cirque du Soleil's Wintuk) as Pete's lumpy, awkward pal Dusty, the William Finn-style comic relief (who plays a musical saw and eats marshmallow Peeps); Michael Park (Smokey Joe's Café, three-time Daytime Emmy nominee as Jack Snyder on "As the World Turns"); Molly Ranson (August: Osage County) as a runaway girl, Frances, whose father also died years ago; Randy Redd (Some Men, Parade, Ring of Fire) as Frances' ghostly father, Miner Boggs; and Asa Somers (Grey Gardens, Next to Normal) as Miner Taylor.

Orchestrations are by Tony Award winner Bruce Coughlin (The Light in the Piazza). Vadim Feichtner (...Spelling Bee) serves as music director.

Calarco (direction and musical staging) is a four-time Helen Hayes Award winner best known for Shakespeare's R&J.

The Burnt Part Boys features scenic design by Brian Prather, costume design by Elizabeth Flauto, lighting design by Chris Lee and sound design by Lindsay Jones. Production stage manager is Lori Lundquist.

The performance schedule for The Burnt Part Boys is Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 PM, Saturdays at 2:30 PM & 8 PM and Sundays at 2:30 PM & 7:30 PM. Tickets are $70.

Tickets may be purchased online via TicketCentral.com, by phone at (212) 279-4200 (noon-8 PM daily), or in person at the Ticket Central Box Office, 416 West 42nd Street (between Ninth &Tenth Avenues).

Visit playwrightshorizons.org or vineyardtheatre.org.


After an initial developmental production at Barrington Stage Company in 2006, The Burnt Part Boys "has had an innovative production and development schedule on the way to its Off-Broadway premiere." Following a developmental Lab Production at Vineyard Theatre in spring 2009, the musical was presented in summer 2009 at New York Stage and Film at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie. The Off-Broadway premiere is a co-production between Playwrights Horizons and Vineyard Theatre.

The unique developmental track of the show comes in part under the aegis of the Playwrights Horizons Musicals in Partnership Initiative.

This program is funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop new musicals in partnership with regional theatres, "wholly within the non-profit system from start to finish." For The Burnt Part Boys, this partnership is between Playwrights Horizons and New York Stage and Film.

Andrew Durand, Charlie Brady, Al Calderon, Noah Galvin and Molly Ranson in <em>The Burnt Part Boys</em>.
Andrew Durand, Charlie Brady, Al Calderon, Noah Galvin and Molly Ranson in The Burnt Part Boys. Photo by Joan Marcus
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