Preparing to Direct ‘Classics 101: A Satyr Play’

Preparing to Direct ‘Classics 101: A Satyr Play’

After my third or fourth reading of Homer’s Iliad I became obsessed with Breseis, Achilles’ concubine—so obsessed that I wrote a play that transported the character to the campus of a small, modern-day college in upstate New York. Now, with a generous grant from the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County, I will be able to see the play onstage … by producing and directing it myself. It’s my first go as a director, and I have been learning a great deal about the process, with kind help from several experienced directors, designers, and other pros. The play, newly renamed Classics 101: A Satyr Play, will be performed at the Bethesda Writer’s Center on August 23-25.

Current Film Project: ‘Centered’

Current Film Project: ‘Centered’

One of my favorite documentary filmmakers, Jonathan Gruber, is fearless in the face of controversial material. I have been lucky enough to score a handful of Jonathan’s films and am currently working on his latest: a clear-eyed profile of the recently deceased centrist politician Joe Lieberman. For a mild-mannered guy, Lieberman evoked strong feelings from others over the course of his career, from deep admiration to wrath. Jonathan is at his best when exploring a subject like this, and it’s a great challenge for me to be working on this balancing act with him.

Cleopatra staged reading in Manhattan

Cleopatra staged reading in Manhattan

On December 14, a longtime dream of mine came true. After a few tries and cul-de-sacs, I finally got to hear my Liz-and-Dick musical, The Last Days of Cleopatra, as I had first envisioned it many years ago. Thanks to executive producers Dick Kaufmann and Dan Markley, a truly stellar cast of Broadway performers—brilliantly led by director Tom Caruso and music director Matt Smedal—gathered to perform a full staged reading of this wacky period farce on Theatre Row in New York. It remains to be seen where, if anywhere, the show goes from here, but to my mind, the reading could not have gone better. I’m so grateful to everyone who made it part of their December.

When We Get There at the York Theatre in NYC

When We Get There at the York Theatre in NYC

In October, a reading of our Civil Rights show When We Get There was produced as part of the York Theatre’s Musicals in Mufti series on New York’s Upper East Side. The theater even made a promo video for the run, complete with audience member reactions that truly warmed my heart. Along with my creative partners in the show, co-librettists Richard Lasser and Robert P. Young III, I was honored to work with director Janeece Freeman Clark, music director Dionne McClain-Freeney, and an amazing and talented cast of performers. Watching Janeece and Dionne mold this show was like seeing a master potter turn simple clay into a beautiful vase. I’m pleased to report that there is some interest in taking this to the next level. Stay tuned!

Give Me the Orchestra Returns

Give Me the Orchestra Returns

Once again this fall, my wonderful home of Montgomery County, Maryland, sponsored an orchestral concert for every single second grader in the county. It amounts to thousands of kids, many of whom are experiencing live orchestral music for the first time. I was honored to have my composition Second Grade, Second Line aka Give Me the Orchestra included in the program. It’s a participatory piece with a New Orleans groove that introduces children to the orchestra’s various sections. There’s nothing quite like hearing 2,200 eight-year-olds screaming, “Give me the strings!”