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ASU’s Music Theatre and Opera presents a century of works in 2019-20 season

By

Lynne MacDonald

The ASU Music Theatre and Opera program’s 2019-20 season features major musical theater and operatic works premiered exclusively in the United States in the past 100 years, predominantly in the 21st century. 

“Our 56th season includes three main-stage works that have not yet been produced by ASU — 'Light in the Piazza,’ ‘Street Scene’ and ‘9 to 5’ — as well as an extra fifth full production of ‘35mm’ at Phoenix Theatre and two new works readings,” said Brian DeMaris, associate professor and artistic director of Music Theatre and Opera in the ASU School of Music.  

DeMaris said he is excited to welcome back former ASU student Carmel Dean (Broadway’s “25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee,” “Hands on a Hard Body” and “American Idiot”) to workshop her new piece "Well Behaved Women" as the season opener.

The second new work features composer Laura Kaminsky and librettist Kimberly Reed for a reading of their latest opera, "Hometown to the World," an immigration-themed piece commissioned by the San Francisco Opera and Santa Fe Opera.

“Kaminsky's opera ‘As One’ was the most performed American opera of last season,” said DeMaris. “I am thrilled for us to be involved in the development of new work by this important contemporary American compositional voice.”

ASU Music Theatre and Opera’s 3-year-old new works reading series has enabled students to be involved in the development of new operas and musicals that have gone on to receive professional premieres and national awards, including the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Music (Ellen Reid's “p r i s m”).

The first main-stage production of the season, “The Light in the Piazza,” is a simple story with an exquisite chamber score that DeMaris said is perfectly suited to ASU students who are well versed in both musical theater and opera.

Puccini's timeless one-act operas “Suor Angelica” and “Gianni Schicchi,” about familial love and involving hopeful tragedy and uproarious comedy, premiered at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1918; both fit perfectly in the season.

“35mm” is an innovative model of musical theater, telling stories through song and image in a way no musical has done before and in a contemporary voice that is tailor-made for ASU students.  This work is the second co-production with the Phoenix Theatre Company taking place at the Hardes Theatre.

Kurt Weill's “Street Scene” with lyrics by Langston Hughes is a uniquely American work that features styles ranging from lyric opera to Broadway, including hit tunes "What Good Would The Moon Be," "Wouldn't You Like to Be on Broadway," "Moon-faced, Starry-eyed" and more.

“We look forward to telling this story about families from many different nationalities living together in one neighborhood through a contemporary lens,” said DeMaris.

The final production of the season, Dolly Parton's “9 to 5,” is one of several projects the program has planned in 2020 to commemorate the centennial of women's suffrage in the U.S.

New to the season and to end the year is the Opera Gala at Tempe Center for the Arts, which will highlight the work of graduating students and announce the 2020-21 season.

The season also includes student projects, showcases and cabarets as part of the ongoing collaboration with the Phoenix Theatre Company.

Tickets are on sale for the general public. Ticket prices and venues vary. Contact the Herberger Institute Box Office at 480-965-6447 or visit season.asu.edu for more information.

ASU Music Theatre and Opera 2019-20 Season

New Work Reading
“Well Behaved Women”
Music and lyrics by Carmel Dean
Additional lyrics by Maya Angelou, Miriam Laube
7:30 p.m. Sept. 15
ASU Kerr Cultural Center

“The Light in the Piazza”
Music and Lyrics by Adam Guettel
Book by Craig Lucas
Based on the short story by Elizabeth Spencer
7:30 p.m. Oct. 3–5; 2 p.m. Oct. 6
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

“Suor Angelica” and “Gianni Schicchi”
Music by Giacomo Puccini
Libretto by Giovacchino Forzano
7:30 p.m. Nov. 21–23; 2 p.m. Nov. 24
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

Music Theatre Holiday Cabaret
7:30 p.m. Dec. 2
The Phoenix Theatre Company

“35mm: A Musical Exhibition”
Music and lyrics by Ryan Scott Oliver
Based on the photographs of Matthew Murphy
7:30 p.m. Jan. 31 and Feb. 1; 2 p.m. Feb. 1 and 2
Hardes Theatre at The Phoenix Theatre Company

New Work Reading
“Hometown to the World”
Composer Laura Kaminsky
Librettist Kimberly Reed
7:30 p.m. Feb. 9
ASU Kerr Cultural Center

“Street Scene”
Music by Kurt Weill
Book by Elmer Rice, based on his play by the same name
Lyrics by Langston Hughes and Elmer Rice
Book by Elmer Rice, based on his play by the same name
Co-production with McGill University
7:30 p.m. Feb. 27–29; 2 p.m. March 1
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

“9 to 5, The Musical”
Music and lyrics by Dolly Parton
Book by Patricia Resnick
Based on the 20th Century Fox film
7:30 p.m. April 23–25; 2 p.m. April 26
Evelyn Smith Music Theatre

Music Theatre Showcase and Alumni Night
7:30 p.m. April 27
The Phoenix Theatre Company

Opera Gala
7:30 p.m. May 1
Tempe Center for the Arts

“The Light in the Piazza” is presented through special arrangement with R & H Theatricals: www.rnh.com.
“35mm: A Musical Exhibition” is presented by special arrangement with Samuel French, Inc., a Concord Theatricals Company.
“Street Scene” is used by arrangement with European American Music Corporation, agent for The Kurt Weill Foundation for Music, Inc., the Rice Estate and the Hughes Estate.
“9 to 5 The Musical” is presented through special arrangement with Music Theatre International (MTI). All authorized performance materials are also supplied by MTI.
www.MTIShows.com