Toronto's Tarragon Develops New Musical Tristan, and Michael Healey's Generous

News   Toronto's Tarragon Develops New Musical Tristan, and Michael Healey's Generous
WorkSpace, a new works development program of Tarragon Theatre, the resident professional company in Toronto, offers public readings of two new pieces this fall.

Tristan, a new musical with book, music and lyrics by Paul Sportelli and Jay Turvey, based on the short story of the same name by Thomas Mann, will be directed by Jackie Maxwell. Four public performances will be offered in December.

"The story of Tristan is set in Einfried, a sanatorium/spa in the German Alps, high above the rest of the world," according to Tarragon. "Using Mann's story as a springboard, Turvey and Sportelli have developed and added to the original cast of characters to bring to the stage a group of people alone together at the top of the world. With all the frailties, desires and uncertainties of the world down below we watch as relationships between the many guests 'taking the cure' unfold. Through their various physical frailties, they are more able to appreciate and celebrate life."

The cast of the Dec. 3-11 presentations includes Neil Barclay, Donna Belleville, Dan R. Chameroy, Patty Jamieson, Jessica Lowry, Jeff Madden, Peter Millard and Graeme Somerville. Music director is composer Paul Sportelli.

"One of the attractions of adapting 'Tristan' into a musical was that Thomas Mann wrote beautifully about music in the story and collaborators Turvey and Sportelli wanted to actually hear the music that Mann described," according to Tarragon. "To quote one of the characters in their play, 'Some beauty transcends language.' And by extension, characters that express their thoughts and feelings through song are able to communicate more than just words they sing because of the music that carries their words and sweeps them along."

Turvey and Sportelli said in a statement, "“Ultimately, our musical is about the unexpected gifts that human beings give to one another, the unexpected things that we can awaken in each other." Tarragon's WorkSpace initiative "is intended to address not only new play development but also to further enhance Tarragon's premiere productions. Through this program, we take a new play and begin to explore and develop directorial concepts, the creation of characters and the design process. Essential to the play's development is putting the play in front of an audience. Over the course of several public presentations, the play continues to be developed in the intervening work sessions. WorkSpace complements the already comprehensive development path at the Tarragon Theatre."

Public presentations of Tristan are Dec. 3, 4, 10, 11. Dec. 3 & 10 at 8 PM and Dec. 4 & 11 at 2:30 PM in the Tarragon Studio (the WorkSpace). Tickets are $10.

Michael Healey's new play, Generous, will also be presented, featuring a cast that includes Jordan Pettle, Julie Stewart, David Storch and Severn Thompson.

Healey is a Tarragon playwright-in-residence. The new work is made up of four brief two-act plays that "deal with separate aspects of the same question: what happens when members of society not known for their generosity become overwhelmed suddenly with the desire to help?"

It's billed as "an investigation of altruism and public service among those thoroughly unqualified for these behaviors."

Recently, Generous was read at the Shaw Festival as part of the Tarragon/Shaw co-operative workshop program.

The play reading is on Nov. 28 at 8 PM and will take place in the Near Studio. Admission is free. For reservations, call the box office at (416) 531-1827.

For more information about Tarragon, visit

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