CAST AND CREATIVE TEAM ANNOUNCED FOR THE LAST GOODBYE
(8/15/13) • The Old Globe has announced the complete cast and creative team for The Last Goodbye, a new musical fusing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with the incendiary songs of the legendary singer-songwriter Jeff Buckley. Conceived and adapted by Michael Kimmel, the rock musical is directed by two-time Tony Award nominee Alex Timbers (Peter and the Starcatcher, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson). Choreography is by Emmy Award nominee Sonya Tayeh (“So You Think You Can Dance”), and orchestrations, music direction and arrangements are by Kris Kukul. The Last Goodbye will run on the Donald and Darlene Shiley Stage in the Old Globe Theatre, part of the Globe’s Conrad Prebys Theatre Center, Sept. 22 – Nov. 3, 2013.
The Last Goodbye is a new musical fusing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with some of the most thrilling rock music of the past 20 years. That light in yonder window is still the east and Juliet is still the sun . . . but the sound in her bedchamber is all new: the sweeping, emotional and extraordinarily beautiful songs of the late rock icon Jeff Buckley. This unique work of theater is a remarkable fusion of the classic and the modern, melding Shakespeare’s tragedy, in its original text, with Buckley’s incendiary music, and staged with limitless invention by Alex Timbers, one of the true stage visionaries at work today.
Jay Armstrong Johnson will play Romeo. He was recently seen on Broadway in Hands on a Hardbody as well as with the companies of Catch Me If You Can and Diane Paulus’ Tony Award-winning revival of Hair. He played Mark in the First National Tour of the 2006 Broadway revival of A Chorus Line and has appeared Off Broadway in MCC Theater’s Wild Animals You Should Know and Prospect Theater Company’s Working, for which he won a Drama Desk Award.
Talisa Friedman will appear as Juliet. She has been featured regionally in Ah, Wilderness! (Arena Stage), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (The Studio Theatre), The Bardy Bunch (New York International Fringe Festival) and the world premiere stage adaptation of Donnie Darko (American Repertory Theater). She is the recipient of the Jonathan Levy Prize and the David McCord Prize for Excellence in the Arts.
The cast of The Last Goodbye alsofeatures Hale Appleman (Mercutio), Stephen Bogardus (Friar Lawrence), Nancy Snow Carr (Lady Montague), Shannon Cochran (Lady Capulet), Brandon Gill (Benvolio), Bryan Scott Johnson (Montague), Eric Morris (Paris), Daniel Oreskes (Capulet), Tonye Patano (Nurse), Wallace Smith (Prince Escalus) and Jeremy Woodard (Tybalt) with James Brown III, Billy Bustamante, Drew Foster, Adam Perry, Steve Schepis and Nik Walker (Ensemble), Megan Carmitchel (Offstage Singer) and Bradley Gibson (Swing).
The creative team includes Christopher Barreca (Scenic Design), Jennifer Moeller (Costume Design), Justin Townsend (Lighting Design), Ken Travis (Sound Design), Ian Hersey (Text Consultant), Kate Waters (Fight Director), Jacob Grigolia-Rosenbaum (Associate Fight Director), Carrie Gardner, CSA (Casting) and Peter Lawrence (Stage Manager).
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THE MIDNIGHT PINE AND STEVIE HARRIS JOIN THE JEFF BUCKLEY TRIBUTE CONCERT
(8/8/13) •San Diego musical artists The Midnight Pine and Stevie Harris have joined the lineup for the Globe’s one-night-only Jeff Buckley Tribute Concert on Monday, Aug. 19 at 7:00 p.m. The concert, which features several prominent local artists covering the songs of the legendary musician, coincides with the Globe’s upcoming production of The Last Goodbye,a fusion of Buckley’s music with Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The Jeff Buckley Tribute Concert, benefitting the Globe’s student Shakespeare programs, will take place in the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival Theatre. Tickets start at $20 and can be purchased online at www.TheOldGlobe.org, by phone at (619) 23-GLOBE or by visiting the Box Office at 1363 Old Globe Way in Balboa Park.
As previously announced, the other musical artists scheduled to perform at the Jeff Buckley Tribute Concert include Jeff Berkley, Israel Maldonado and Fernando Apodaca with Todd Hannigan, Veronica May, Eve Selis, Gayle Skidmore, Superunloader and Pete Thurston. The Midnight Pine, Jeff Berkley and Gayle Skidmore are all currently nominated for 2013 San Diego Music Awards, as are Stevie Harris’ band The Styletones and Veronica Mays’ band The Lovebirds. The concert will be emceed by Cathryn Beeks, host of KPRi-FM’s “The Homegrown Hour,” and Chris Cantore, U-T San Diego’s Director of Lifestyle & Entertainment. The Sinclairs, who were previously announced for the concert, have withdrawn due to a scheduling conflict.
To buy tickets to this one-night-only event, click here. And to view photos of the other bands, visit our Facebook page!
FROM HARD-BOILED FICTION TO AMERICAN NOIR:
THE WORLD OF JAMES M. CAIN
(7/30/13) • The detective yarn is a uniquely American invention. In 1841, when Edgar Allen Poe wrote The Murders in the Rue Morgue, the story of a brilliant sleuth who uses logic and reasoning to solve a brutal double murder, he did more than spin an unforgettable tale — he birthed an entire genre. English writers like Arthur Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers were quick to adopt the form, giving it rules, structure and a distinctly genteel, upper-class flavor.
In the 1930s, American writers took back detective fiction and gave it a gritty, streetwise edge. These so-called “hard-boiled” or “tough-guy” stories found a natural home in the inexpensive pulp magazines of the day, with their lurid covers and disposable format. The premiere home for hard-boiled detective fiction was the magazine Black Mask, founded by H. L. Mencken. In the pages of Black Mask, Dashiell Hammett first published The Maltese Falcon, introducing the world to Sam Spade, the quintessential 1930s investigator. Hammett inspired many other greats of the genre, like Raymond Chandler, whose novels The Big Sleep; Farewell, My Lovely; and The Long Goodbye all featured the hard-drinking private eye Philip Marlowe.
Then along came James M. Cain — the man who transformed hard-boiled detective fiction into something even darker. Cain denied belonging to the hard-boiled or any other school of writing. And while his work clearly owes a debt to those writers, he also turned their structure on its head. Cain wrote “inverted” detective stories, stories in which the reader follows not a flawed yet heroic investigator, but rather the decidedly un-heroic criminal who is trying to outwit him. Cain’s work marked a shift in the genre: from detective fiction to crime novel, from hard-boiled to noir.
Born in Maryland, Cain originally wanted to be an opera singer like his mother. In his 20s, he financed his singing lessons selling insurance in Washington, DC — a side job that would ultimately prove more useful to his career than the lessons. When he failed at opera, he settled for writing, a career he saw as a “consolation prize.” Cain worked as a journalist in both Baltimore and New York City, and he briefly served as the managing editor of The New Yorker. In 1931, Cain left New York for Hollywood to write for Paramount. Although his films never took off, his fiction did.
His first novel, The Postman Always Rings Twice, was published in 1934. Two years later, in 1936, Double Indemnity appeared for the first time in Liberty magazine, serialized in eight weekly installments. Both novels are first-person accounts; each is told from the point of view of a man who falls in love with a married woman and helps her kill her husband. Like Hammett and Chandler, Cain wrote seamy, masculine, middle-class stories set against a California backdrop. But unlike Hammett and Chandler, Cain created protagonists who are hooked by the lure of sex and money, who are led by pride or desperation to attempt the perfect crime. This held true in his later short stories and novels, like Mildred Pierce.
Raymond Chandler articulated his own ethos of detective fiction in a 1950 essay titled “The Simple Art of Murder.” He argues that, rather than laying out “a concatenation of insignificant clues,” successful modern detective stories focus on character — in particular, the character of the detective. “These stories may unfold in dank alleyways; they may take place in the ugliest underworlds, and yet, Chandler writes: “Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid. The detective in this kind of story must be such a man. He is the hero, he is everything...He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly
without saying it.”
In contrast, Cain shaped his stories around characters who give in to their baser impulses, who even relish betraying their code of ethics. “I think my stories have some quality of the opening of a forbidden box,” Cain wrote, and once that box is open, Cain’s characters are swept along by its contents. Pulp fiction historian Geoffrey O’Brien describes it this way: “In the typical Cain story, someone opens a door at random (and in the first paragraph) and his destiny is sealed then and there. Generally it is not long before he realizes what has happened, but as if hypnotized, he does nothing to alter the course of events.” Cain’s characters board runaway trains of their own devising, fueled by their own worst impulses — trains that inevitably head straight off the tracks.
Not unsurprisingly, Chandler despised Cain’s novels. He famously wrote in a letter to his agent, “James Cain — faugh! Everything he touches smells like a billy goat. He is every kind of writer I detest...a Proust in greasy overalls, a dirty little boy with a piece of chalk and a board fence and nobody looking.” But when the time came to turn Double Indemnity into a film, to whom did director Billy Wilder go for the screenplay? Not Cain himself, but his rival, Raymond Chandler.
The film version of Double Indemnity was a long time coming. In the late 1930s, Hollywood was still under the thumb of the Hays Office, which enforced moral censorship guidelines. When a film adaptation of Double Indemnity was proposed, the Hays Office was consulted for approval. Their official report began, “Under no circumstances, in no way shape or form...” Why? In the words of censor James Breen, “The general low tone and sordid flavor of this story makes it, in our judgment, thoroughly unacceptable for screen presentation.”
After many attempts, Wilder finally got the green light from the Hays Office. He and Chandler co-wrote the screenplay, and Double Indemnity made its way to the big screen in 1944. The film starred Fred MacMurray as the insurance agent who uses his inside knowledge to help the gorgeous Barbara Stanwyck kill her husband for a high-dollar payout. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and it quickly became an influential classic of film noir.
“Noir was to cinema as punk was to rock and roll,” wrote novelist Steve Erickson. With its distinctive chiaroscuro visual style and its embrace of the darkness of hard-boiled crime fiction, film noir tapped into the moral confusion of the post-WWII era. Erickson continued, “European refugees like...Billy Wilder brought with them a worldview forged of equal parts German Expressionism and Nazi barbarity. A bracing denial of heroism provided noir’s visceral energy; in the wake of the stupefying revelation of the concentration camps, and before the altar of atomization, the genre was distinguished by violence and wantonness in the face of obliteration.”
Film noir was immensely popular, and it was the mechanism by which Hammett, Chandler and Cain became part of the broader American consciousness. As Cain’s biographer David Madden put it, “Without Cain there is — no matter how you define it — no noir. He is its daddy. And he was very, very strict.” But Cain is more than noir, and he is certainly more than the visual shorthands of that genre, with its curling smoke and trenchcoats, its heavy shadows and scantily clad women. He was, as David Madden calls him, a “mythmaker,” a tabloid poet, the “unchallenged master” of “American literature’s midnight.”
(Top photo: Novelist James M. Cain. Bottom photo: Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray in the 1944 film Double Indemnity.)