Thursday, April 22, 2010

Three Sisters: A Restoration

I am thrilled to announce (and scoup all the news agencies!) that 42nd Street Moon, Artistic Director Greg MacKellan, and Musical Director Dave Dobrusky have received a 2010 NEA Grant for $25,000.

The grant is being awarded to restore the script and score of Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein's lost work Three Sisters. In 1995, Moon put together a concert reading of Three Sisters. Although it was minimally staged, and the script was a skeletal narrative of the show, Variety acknowledged the glory of Kern’s score, “But the prize here is Kern’s extant music. This material was ideal for his way with a wistful ballad, and several are gorgeous…” Of the script, Variety noted, “This drama-with-songs seems more in line with the fabled team’s earlier Show Boat than their more frivolous ‘30’s vehicles.”

Artistic Director Greg MacKellan intends to go back to the original source material and re-store and construct a working production script. The basis of our 1995 score consisted of several songs with published sheet music, some piano selections published in England, and some transcriptions from a cast recording. Musical Director Dave Dobrusky will finish the score restoration and create a new, readable piano-vocal score as well as new chamber orchestrations for piano, woodwinds, and strings to present the score.

From our original concert press release:

Not based on Chekhov's work, this Three Sisters follows three very different siblings through their romantic adventures during the first two decades of the century. The three girls hold different marital aspirations, with the eldest sister, a great galumphing girl named Tiny, in love with a sturdy constable; Dorrie, the middle child dreaming of marriage to a wealthy man; and the youngest, Mary, smitten by a young busker named Gypsy Hood. Marriages, mistaken identities and World War I ensue, with the girls' hapless photographer father trying to manage it all.

Premiering April 9, 1934 at the Drury Lane Theater in London, Three Sisters was mounted with the intention of bringing it to the states after a successful London run, but mixed reviews closed the show after two months -- at the time, the shortest run in the history of the Drury Lane Theater. Kern had worked previously in London with great success. Shows such as Cabaret Girl, Beauty Prize and Blue Eyes, written with British lyricists and book writers such as P.G. Wodehouse, had been very well received by London critics and audiences alike. "Three Sisters was Kern's first production in London that was written with another American, Oscar Hammerstein, who wrote the lyrics and book," says 42nd St. Moon producer Greg MacKellan. According to MacKellan, "New York critics who traveled to London to see the show adored it, but London critics were less enthusiastic -- perhaps offended that two Americans would dare to write a musical with British characters and a British story." While David Fairweather of the U.S. magazine Theatre World wrote, "It is difficult to account for the failure of Three Sisters, for it is a charming, original production with by far the best music of any light opera within recent history," British critic W.A. Darlington sniffed "the pleasant and cleverly handled, but not original."

I know I speak for everyone here when I say Congratulations to Greg and Dave and how excited we are to see the American Premiere production of a Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein show!

Three Sisters will be part of Moon's 2011-2012 season. To subscribe for next season click here.

No comments: