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.
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!
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!”
“Barnett writes wryly, glibly and humorously about the foibles of fame and its often corrosive effects on the psyche. Barnett’s often laugh-out-loud funny play is a bit of a cautionary tale, and not only for aspiring, or expiring, old rockers.”
And the Lehigh Valley Stage:
“An original comedy that is humorously quirky with unexpected twists.”
I got to see two performances and was proud and honored by what the Crowded Kitchen Players were able to do with this play.
I’m pleased to announce that my new comedy, The Spectre of Death, will be performed by the Crowded Kitchen Players at Between the Lines Studio Theatre in Allentown, Pennsylvania from September 22 through October 1. It’s a play about a fading ’80s metal-band star and his unexpected daughter. Though it’s not a musical, I did have to write one song for the performance: the fictional mega-hit “We Are Going to Rock You…to Death!” I can’t wait to see what this talented troupe does with the script.