Sundance Announces White Oak Acting Company

News   Sundance Announces White Oak Acting Company
The Sundance Institute has announced the company of actors who are currently developing works by Tony Award-nominated playwright Lisa Kron and four-time Tony-nominated composer Jeanine Tesori, among others, at the White Oak lab in Yulee, FL.

The acting company includes Julius Ahn, Hai-Ting Chinn, Brad Heberlee (The Bald Soprano), Eien Hunter-Ishikawa, Vin Knight (Gatz, The Select-The Sun Also Rises), Ronete Levenson (Our Town), Richard Manera and Joel Perez (In the Heights).

Mark Brokaw (Cry Baby, artistic director of the Yale Institute for Music Theatre) and Paul Cremo (Metropolitan Opera) serve as creative consultants for the lab, which began Oct. 30 and will continue through Nov. 13. Dramaturgs are Janice Paran and Polly Carl.

Here's a look at the works in development:

Kron (Well, In the Wake) and Tesori (Caroline, or Change; Shrek; Thoroughly Modern Millie) are writers in residence with Fun Home, which has been adapted from the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel. It was previously developed during the 2009 Ojai Playwrights Festival.

The Fun Home experience is summed up by a statement from Bechdel's character: "My father and I grew up in the same small Pennsylvania town and he was gay and I was gay and he killed himself and I became a lesbian cartoonist." According to Sundance notes, "The title refers to the family business, the Bechdel Funeral Home, and charts Alison's quest to come to terms with her father's life and death by painstakingly reconstructing their shared but unspoken bond." Stuck Elevator has music by Byron Au Yong and a book by Arron Jafferis. Chay Yew directs the musical that is performed in both Mandarin and English.

"Based on the true story of an undocumented immigrant who survived 81 hours in a Bronx elevator, this comic-rap-scrap-metal-music-theatre work follows Guang's increasingly fantastic attempts to escape a 4' x 6' x 8' metal box. As he climbs into memories, nightmares, and impossible futures, he is cooked into a morsel of Orange Beef and mugged by a bursting bladder. Taking charge, Guang transforms into Takeout Man, battles his prison guard, flies paper airplane menu letters to his family, and leads an army of bicycle deliverymen. Suspended between the upward mobility of the American dream and the downward plunge into an empty abyss, Stuck Elevator travels between refuge/prison, freedom/safety, and voice/silence for our superhero," Sundance explains.

The Debate Society's Untitled World's Fair Play is written and performed by Hannah Bos and Paul Thureen, with direction by Oliver Butler, who helped develop the piece.

Here's how Sundance bills the work: "Chicago 1893: The Zoopraxiscope, cracker jacks and neon lights. The Ferris Wheel, hootchy-kootchy… hell they even had the hamburger! On the eve of a glowing new century, something terrible happens in a humble two-story home. And everything ends. Chicago 1933: When The Fair returns 40 years later, so do the unfinished histories of everything that could have been. And so things begin for the hermit upstairs and the mysterious look-a-like below. Play-making company The Debate Society creates a haunted world of forgotten futures, a rotting building and the spirit of invention."

Sundance producing artistic director Philip Himberg oversees the two-week lab that nurtures new musicals and ensemble-generated works which require unique developmental environments.


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