SARASOTA — Asolo Repertory Theatre will open its 2013-2014 season next month with the hit musical Showboat. This winner of the 1994 Tony Award for best revival features a score of timeless classics, including “Ol’ Man River, “Can’t Help Lovin’ Dat Man” and “Make Believe.” Long considered, the first modern American musical, Showboat opens November 15 at the FSU Center for the Performing Arts.
Based on the novel by Edna Ferber, music is by Jerome Kern and book and lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II. The show takes audiences aboard Captain Andy Hawks’ Cotton Blossom, a 19th-century riverboat that travels from town to town on the Mississippi River with a troupe of performers, chronicling the performers’ lives during a crucially transformative period in U.S. history from the dawn of the Progressive Era to the eve of the Great Depression.
Showboar explores many poignant topics, including racial diversity in marriage and economic hardships, that still challenge the world today.
“The love of family and family in the larger sense – the family of man – that’s what the show is about. That’s what Oscar Hammerstein is about,” said Hal Prince, director of the 1994 Broadway revival.
The musical launches the second year of Asolo Rep’s five-year American Character Project, which examines all of the historical, cultural and political intricacies that make this country unique. The second year of the Project will concentrate on family, in both its most traditional and unconventional of forms. In SHOW BOAT, the tight-knit troupe of performers on board the Cotton Blossom discovers that family is much more than just blood relations. From its 1927 Broadway premiere to its 1994 revival, the musical has never been more pertinent than it is today.
“Showboat encompasses all that is extraordinary, complex and dynamic about the American family and is the perfect introduction to Asolo Rep’s thrilling 2013-2014 season and the second year of the American Character Project,” said Michael Donald Edwards, Producing Artistic Director of Asolo Repertory Theatre. "Ever since its Broadway premiere in 1927 completely revolutionized the form of the American musical, the show’s themes, characters and music have resonated deeply with audiences from all walks of life. It is the first modern American musical, and we are delighted to continue its dazzling, timeless voyage here in Sarasota."
Eight musicians will bring the show's magnetic score to life. The reimagined version of this masterpiece was mounted in 2011 at Goodspeed Musicals in East Haddam, Connecticut, directed by Rob Ruggiero and choreographed by Noah Racey (Noah Racey’s Pulse, 2013). Ruggiero and Racey will also lead Asolo Rep’s production, along with musical director Wade Russo.
“I am thrilled to be directing my own adaption of Showboat for Asolo Rep," said Ruggiero. "Although I adapted and directed the musical at Goodspeed two years ago, this will be almost a completely new company of actors making this a fresh and new production especially for Sarasota. It's a show that is very near to my heart – an intimate SHOW BOAT that focuses in on the story of a show-business family. I am sure Asolo Rep audiences will be entertained and moved by this extraordinary musical."
Previews will be held November 12 – 14 and the show will run from November 15 – December 29. Opening night will be held on Friday, November 15 at 8 p.m. Visit Asolo's website for more information.
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