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Monday, May 18, 2015
EXTENDED: Piven Theatre Workshop's Melancholy Play: a chamber musical through 6/21 #Review #GuestPost
Piven Theatre Workshop extends Melancholy Play: a chamber musical through June 21, 2015
Playwright Sarah Ruhl to conduct post-show talk-backs June 18 and 21; Ruhl and composer Todd Almond return for Poetry Foundation conversation, June 24
In this lighthearted farce, bank teller Tilly’s (Stephanie Stockstill) melancholy is of an exquisite quality. She turns her melancholy into a sexy thing, and every stranger she meets falls in love with her. One day, inexplicably, Tilly becomes happy, and wreaks havoc on the lives of her paramours, while Frances, Tilly’s hairdresser, becomes so melancholy that she turns into an almond. It is up to Tilly to get her back. Other members of the Equity production include Chris Ballou (Frank, a tailor who deeply loves Tilly’s melancholia); Lauren Paris (Frances, her hairdresser); Emily Grayson (Joan, the helpless nurse who watches her girlfriend Frances devolve into a nut), and Ryan Lanning (Lorenzo, Tilly’s eccentric therapist from an undetermined European country).
Guest Post by Flo Mano- Exclusive to ChiIL Live Shows
"Melancholy play" is an opera worthy musical. Four strings and a piano, come alive as Tilly, is "melancholy" and sees her European "happy" therapist, who has a "transference" on her.
And that starts the "Amelie" like happenstance of happy go lucky with a twist of "almonds". When her path crosses the tailor, who makes daily visits to the bank where she works, they fall in love. Then a hairstylist falls for Tilly, as does her lesbian nurse lover. To the dismay of the psychotherapist, she informs him that she no longer needs his services, because she's happy and leaves him a few hair strands he'd asked her for. So, this strange, outlandish farce takes us through a journey of Tilly becoming "not melancholy", but the now happy Tilly brings despair on those who love her, want her, and fight over her.
In this utterly unique show, Tilly’s hairdresser gets so distraught, taking a downward emotional plunge, she literally turns into an "almond", A REAL ALMOND! Now her morphing brings sadness to her friends, for her altered state, and the "tears" that brought on the transformation. Yet her friends are not hopelessness or helpless as they band together in their quest to retrieve and reverse, discovering hidden secrets of the past that bond them even more.
So this surrealistic story swerves and spirals, twists and turns, and audiences following the course are anything but melancholy. Recommended.
Piven Theatre Workshop will extend performances of the critically-acclaimed Melancholy Play: a chamber musical by Tony™-nominated playwright Sarah Ruhl, with music by prolific New York composer Todd Almond and direction by Polly Noonan. The production will continue through Sunday, June 21, at Piven Theatre Workshop, 927 Noyes Street in Evanston. The new musical was originally scheduled to close June 7.
The Piven Theatre Workshop is also pleased to announce that Melancholy Play playwright (and Piven alumna and longtime supporter) Sarah Ruhl returns to the Piven stage for post-show “talk- backs” on both Thursday evening, June 18, and Sunday afternoon, June 21. She will be joined by the cast, plus members of the creative team on the 18th, and Piven Theatre Workshop Founder Joyce Piven on the 21st.
Also of note, immediately following the run of Melancholy Play, Ruhl and Almond will discuss their collaboration and the transformation of Ruhl's original text with Almond’s music at the Poetry Foundation, 61 West Superior Street, Chicago, Wednesday evening, June 24, at 7 p.m. This program is free and open to the public. For more information about this free public program at the Poetry Foundation, please visit: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/programs/event/4453
Sarah Ruhl’s Melancholy Play had its world premiere in 2002 at Piven Theatre Workshop and starred Noonan in the lead role as Tilly. A decade later, Ruhl teamed up with Almond and developed Melancholy Play as a new chamber musical. It was workshopped in 2012 via 13p in Brooklyn, and returned to Piven Theatre Workshop for its Midwest Premiere. It will have its official World Premiere at Trinity Rep Theater in Providence, RI, on May 28, 2015.
Noonan, director of the highly acclaimed production of The Language Archive last year at Piven, returns to helm the show she once starred in over a decade ago.
The designers of Melancholy Play: a chamber musical are Jacob Watson (set), Rachel Levy (lighting), Alex Palma (sound), Stephanie Cluggish (costumes), and Austin Kopsa (properties). Musical Direction is by Aaron Benham.
Sarah Ruhl’s plays include In the Next Room, or the vibrator play (Pulitzer Prize finalist, Tony Award nominee for best new play), The Clean House (Pulitzer Prize Finalist, 2005; The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, 2004); Passion Play, a cycle (Pen American award, The Fourth Freedom Forum Playwriting Award from The Kennedy Center); Dead Man’s Cell Phone (Helen Hayes award); Melancholy Play; Eurydice; Orlando, Demeter in the City (NAACP nomination), Late: a cowboy song, Three Sisters, and most recently, Stage Kiss, The Oldest Boy, and Dear Elizabeth. Melancholy Play, Eurydice, Orlando, Three Sisters, and Late: a cowboy song have all been produced at Piven Theatre Workshop.
About the Composer:
Writer/performer Todd Almond’s work includes the World Premiere of IOWA, an original musical play with playwright Jenny Schwartz and director Ken Rus Schmoll, officially opening at Playwrights Horizons, April 13, 2015. Other theatrical credits include original music for Ruhl’s Stage Kiss, also at Playwrights Horizons; original music and lyrics for the Public Theater/Public Works’ The Tempest at the Delacorte, in which Almond also starred as Ariel; original book for Girlfriend (music and lyrics by Matthew Sweet) at Actors Theater and Berkeley Rep; original music and lyrics for On the Levee at LCT3; original music and lyrics for Yale Rep’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle; original music and lyrics for The Odyssey at the Old Globe in San Diego; and original music and lyrics for Kansas City Choir Boy, performed by Almond with rock icon Courtney Love as part of the Prototype Festival.
About Piven Theatre Workshop:
About Piven Theatre Workshop:
With Melancholy Play: a chamber musical, Piven Theatre Workshop continues its ongoing mission of premiering original works, and its history of celebrating the emerging voices of women. Piven Theatre Workshop has excelled as a leader in the arts community for 44 years, maintaining a distinguished legacy in the training of children and adults in the theatre arts. Annually, between onsite and off-site programming, the theatre trains over 1,000 students, provides approximately $30,000 in need-based scholarships, and maintains a professional theatre and numerous outreach programs throughout the Chicago area.
Performance schedule & tickets:
Melancholy Play: a chamber musical will be performed at the Piven Theatre Workshop, 927 Noyes Street, Evanston, through June 21, 2015. The performance schedule is: Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday afternoons at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are priced from $20-$35, and are available at the box office, by calling 847-866-8049, or online at www.piventheatre.org.