The Team Behind LEGALLY BLONDE Presents LIFE OF THE PARTY Opera, Now thru 5/6
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by BWW News Desk
Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and the Performing Arts presents the world premiere of Life Of The Party, a light opera for dark times. Following the huge success of last year's production of Kismet, director Paul Lincoln and the LaGuardia High School Opera Workshop tackle this completely original work, written and composed by Tony Award nominees Laurence O'Keefe (Legally Blonde, Bat Boy) and Nell Benjamin (Legally Blonde, Pirates!). The show plays a strictly limited run, with performances tonight, May 3rd, May 4th and 5th at 7:30pm and May 6th at 2:00pm.
Set in 1953 in Stalin’s Soviet Union, Life Of The Party tells the story of a director who, denounced by his wife and star actress, is released after 10 years’ hard labor in Siberia and ordered by Stalin to make a communist movie musical to compete with Singin’ In the Rain, On The Town and the other musical films pouring in from the West.
The film he’s ordered to make -- “The Happy Bandit”, a thinly veiled ode to Stalin himself -- is a suicide mission. But hungry for freedom and a chance for revenge against his wife, he agrees to direct. And production begins, complete with temperamental stars, secret police informers, and a chorus of women from the local insane asylum.
Based on true stories of the brave men and women who labored to make art and music in Stalin's Russia, Life Of The Party is a darkly comic, universal story about love, betrayal and just trying to do your job in an insane time and place.
The cast and orchestra are made up entirely of LaGuardia High School students, who have ambitiously agreed to mount an original opera production while still maintaining the highest academic standards.
LHS’s Opera Workshop Artistic Director is Mary Ann Swerdfeger; Bernice Fleischer is head of the Music Department, and LHS Principal is Kim Bruno.
Nell Benjamin co-wrote the score to Legally Blonde The Musical with Laurence O’Keefe, for which they received Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations, and won Olivier Award for Best Musical. Nell’s disturbingly free adaptation of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Pirates of Penzance, called Pirates! (Or, Gilbert and Sullivan Plunder’d) ran at the Goodspeed Opera House ,the Paper Mill Playhouse, and the Huntington Theater and will be playing at the MUNY this July. With Larry as composer, Nell wrote lyrics for Sarah, Plain and Tall, originally developed by TheatreworksUSA. Sarah played at Off-Broadway’s Lucille Lortel Theater and at Dallas Theater Center in 2009. Nell and Larry were nominated for a 2005 Drama Desk for Best Book of a Musical for Cam Jansen (also developed by Theatreworks USA) and won an L.A. Ovation award for their first collaboration, The Mice. Nell’s work for television includes the last and weirdest season of “Unhappily Ever After”, Animal Planet’s “Whoa! Sunday with Mo Rocca”, and the new “Electric Company”.
Laurence O'Keefe is a composer, lyricist and writer for Broadway, movies and television. In addition to his collaboration with Nell Benjamin, his other credits include Bat Boy: The Musical, which won two Richard Rodgers Awards and the Lucille Lortel and Outer Critics Circle Awards for Best Off-Broadway Musical, and has received hundreds of productions worldwide; Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show”, Disney’s “Johnny And The Sprites”, and PBS’ “Make Em Laugh”, and Heathers, the upcoming stage adaptation of Dan Waters’ beloved cult black comedy, which will premiere in London in 2013.
Larry has also worked as bandleader and songwriter with Fool Moon creator and clown David Shiner on several comedy shows in Seattle, Munich and Lisbon. Larry and Nell have taught master classes in music, theater, writing and comedy at Harvard, Yale, NYU, University of Miami and elsewhere.
Paul Lincoln directed the LaGuardia Opera Workshop production of Kismet, an innovative production that utilized only fabric for a set. He is one of the foremost musical theater coaches in New York with over 50 clients currently in Broadway productions. Paul worked with Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall on the last revival of Cabaret with Terri Hatcher and Joely Fisher. As an actor, he has a wide variety of experience in both opera and music theater. Paul helped develop, directed, music directed and played the part of Euturpe in the world premier of Lyrical Langston: His Muse for MusiC. Later, he produced a successful commercial run of this show in association with the Lost Nation Theater
Paul plays seven instruments and is an active performer with a one-man show that takes him around the world regularly He made his solo and conducting debut at Carnegie Hall while still in college. Later engagements as a soloist include the Cairo Opera House, Sydney Opera House, Rome Festival and an invitation to sing at the Kennedy Center Millennium Celebrations.
Tickets are $20 and may be purchased online at laguardiahs.tix.com