APAC's production of
Children of Eden
At the 2010 Innovative Theater Awards, Astoria Performing Arts Center took home the Outstanding Production of a Musical for Children of Eden.
This wasn't the first time APAC was nominated. In fact they had
received 14 nominations and have received 3 awards for their work
(including another for Children of Eden, in the category of Outstanding
Set Design for Michael P. Kramer).
the IT Award was a fantastic way to start our 10th Anniversary season,"
said Executive Director Taryn Sacramone. "Our friends here in the
Astoria community certainly felt a lot of hometown pride on our behalf. Children of Eden
was a particularly ambitious and challenging production; a lot of
people had a role in making it possible, from investing time working on
it, donating to it, and more, they share in the honor."
This spring, they reunite their award-winning team with Galt MacDermott and William Dumaresq's musical The Human Comedy,
to run May 5-21. The production will be directed by APAC Artistic
Director Tom Wojtunik and music directed by Jeffrey Campos, reuniting IT
Award Nominee Christine O'Grady as choreographer, IT Award Recipient
Michael P. Kramer as set designer, Hunter Kaczorowski as costume
designer and casting by wojcik|seay casting.
The Human Comedy
"It's been such a blessing and a joy to reunite virtually the entire team from Children of Eden,"
states Wojtunik. "We already have an artistic short-hand and there is
an enormous amount of respect--I think we all truly understand and trust
each other as artists, freeing us to really concentrate on our areas of
expertise and know that everyone else is bringing their A-game. At the
same time, there's a concentration on comparing notes and making sure we
are all on the same page, so that the final design feels likes one
look, and that the staging and performances grow out of that
physical world. It's fun blending the lines as far as who came up with
what - and I believe with that level of collaboration that is when we
all do our best work."
on William Saroyan's short story of the same name, the piece celebrates
the idea of home and family. The coming-of-age tale focuses on young
Homer Macauley, a telegram messenger who is exposed to the sorrows and
joys experienced by his family and the residents of his small California
town during World War II. "A spirited, emotionally affecting musical, a
joyous celebration of small town America," (Associate Press), The Human Comedy
one of the most enjoyable and moving musicals to have fallen into
relative obscurity. APAC is offering you the opportunity to see the show
the first weekend May 5-7 at a special $10/ticket price with code
"itawards" at apacny.org.
Wojtunik chose The Human Comedy,
having been a fan of the show for over 15 years. In 1982, when Joseph
Papp premiered the show at The Public it was huge hit reminiscent of
MacDermott's previous hit, Hair.
Later that year, when the show moved to Broadway it struggled next to
the more over-the-top spectacle musicals that were beginning to invade
the Great White Way. It hasn't had a full-fledged professional
production in NYC since. Wojtunik states, "this beautiful show has sadly
fallen into relative obscurity since it premiered in 1983. I'm so proud
that APAC is producing it, and look forward to sharing it with New York
Wojtunik's grandfather was passing, he spent time on the train riding
to and from his Connecticut hometown, listening to what was, he
proclaims, "one of the best scores ever written for a musical." At the
funeral, when the flag on coffin was folded and handed to his father,
Wojtunik watched the generation shift in his family and had a profound
sense of change. It was then he knew he had to produce this musical
about life changing moments.
"I've been thrilled at how The Human Comedy
is so open to interpretation. The source material (William Saroyan's
novel) is rich, and there are beautiful, extended musical passages in
the musical that you can really interpret in a variety of ways," says
Wojtunik. "I'm having a blast finding my vision for the story that is
unique to how it has been staged in previous productions.
score itself is very demanding, and requires the ensemble to sing in
almost every song in many ways the piece functions as musical historian
Ken Mandelbaum said like "The Great American Opera," or an oratorio. So
like the original production, we will have almost the entire cast on
stage the entire time. I think we've come up with interesting ways to
underline the themes of the pieces within this framework. There's also a
character in the show called "Beautiful Music" that we've decided to
use in a way that will really clarify who she is, and is very
called "Adventurous" by the New York Times, has a reputation for
pushing the envelope with their show choices, such as their fall
MilkMilkLemonade and the previous year's The Pillowman.
"We have always seen ourselves as playing a certain role in Astoria -
as filling a need, as relating to other groups and individuals who are
also working to enrich our neighborhood in ways that are both arts and
non-arts related," says Sacramone. "We are very much invested in our
community. So here we are, doing a show that is very much about lives
intertwined in specific place and time. Theatre itself gives audience
members a shared or community experience in a special way. Personally, I
remember who I was with for every play I've ever seen. I can't say the
same about, say, movie-going. I think that our audiences are going to
share a very special experience with this one. There is such a strong
sense of place. I saw a sing through of the show last week, and felt
New York City can be a very transient place, lonely a times, many
people find themselves missing a sense of connectedness and family, now
with" The Human Comedy you can go home again--at least for a while." -Frank Rich, The New York Times
For more information on Astoria Performing Arts Center and The Human Comedy visit www.apacny.org