Thursday, January 31, 2008

Wisconsin Death Trip Comes Alive In Washington

Wisconsin Death Trip Comes Alive In Washington

As noted just last weekend, I will forever consider Mequon, Wisconsin to be my hometown, even though I haven't lived there for 15 years. It was there, in high school, that I met one of my longest standing friends, who's now a distinguished professor at Georgetown University.

So when he told me about a musical -- premiering this evening at the prestigious academic institution -- with a nod toward the homestate where the two of us met more years ago than I care to admit, I was intrigued.

This evening, Wisconsin Death Trip enjoys its world premiere. Based on book that my friend has taught in (gasp!) his "Representations of Violence" course (who knew??), he says:

Wisconsin Death Trip is indeed a trip! The film version came out a few years back with Ian Holm and was quite wonderful, superbly eerie. I have heard parts of the score for this theatrical presentation and am most excited about the production. Who knows? Wit was written and workshopped at Georgetown....I really believe in this project!
Since I have enormous respect for the man who introduced me to the filthy world of John Waters and the "Time Warp" and "Suspiria," how could I resist in sharing?!

So here goes... If you live in our nation's capital or plan to be there tonight, February 1-3 or 6-9, you might consider catching this musical presented by Georgetown University’s Theater and Performance Studies Program. Helmed by Tim Raphael, Wisconsin Death Trip features a score he composed with Jeffrey Berkson, along with a new adaption by the duo on a book by Michael Lesy. The show will be presented in the Gonda Theatre at the Davis Performing Arts Center.

Promotional materials for the musical state:

Shifting between centuries, this daringly original play intertwines the voices of the dead and the living to tell the story of a trailer park drifter living in the margins of Reagan’s America who is haunted by the nineteenth century ghosts of Black River Falls, Wisconsin.

The genesis for the play began in the early 1980’s when Professor Tim Raphael, snowbound in a rural Vermont cabin, stumbled across Michael Lesy’s arresting cult classic "Wisconsin Death Trip." "It was the uncanny familiarity of the lives and events Lesy chronicles in his AmerOdyssey," Raphael recalls, that compelled him to explore the question that animates Lesy’s text: "What Happened Here?"

Performed by a talented cast of Georgetown undergraduates, graduates and staff members, Wisconsin Death Trip is visually stunning and will resonate with fans of Bluegrass, folk music and roots rock alike.

Tickets will only set you back $15 (faculty, staff and seniors get in for just $12, while students pay just $7). To all my DC friends, please go and tell me what you think!

This is Steve On Broadway (SOB).

Click here for ticket information.

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At 01 February, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

I've never read Wisconsin Death Trip, although I've heard of it. The combination of musical styles does sound interesting. And while the subject is kind of grim, who would have thought that the stories behind Assassins or Parade or Sweeney Todd could be made into such compelling musicals. Still, if I'm going to see a Wisconsin-based tuner, I think my vote would go Happy Days! ;-)

At 01 February, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Esther, Ironically (and you probably already knew this), Garry Marshall has turned his 70s sitcom of "Happy Days" into a musical that had its premiere last year in LA and has been presented just across the river from NYC in New Jersey.

At 01 February, 2008, Blogger Esther said...

Yes, that's exactly what I was referring to! It's kind of an interesting combination when you think about it: one is an overly glossy view of the 1950s, while the other takes the gloss off of small-town life in the 19th century.

At 01 February, 2008, Blogger Steve On Broadway (SOB) said...

Great explanation, Esther!


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