THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY
- for immediate release
THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY TO PRESENT "POSSIBILITY JUNKIE," A NEW
MUSICAL BY DAVID IPPOLITO (THAT GUITAR MAN FROM CENTRAL PARK) AND GRETCHEN
CRYER (I'M GETTING MY ACT TOGETHER AND TAKING IT ON THE ROAD)
WHERE AND WHEN:
September 28 to October 20
Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave.
Presented by Theater for the New City
Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30pm, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, Sunday
All Seats $25/TDF Vouchers Accepted. Tuesdays: Pay-What-You-Can (available
at the Box Office only).
Box office: (212) 254-1109, www.theaterforthenewcity.net
Show's website: http://possibilityjunkie.com
Please list: Off Broadway
Runs 1 hr 45 mins
THIS SHOW IS NOT AVAILABLE FOR REVIEW but news and feature coverage are
NEW YORK – "Possibility Junkie" is a new musical theater
work by David Ippolito (music, lyrics, book) and directed by Gretchen Cryer
("I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road"), who
co-authored the book. The story is based loosely on the career of David
Ippolito, who is known to hundreds of thousands of people across the country
and around the world as "That Guitar Man from Central Park."
Part singer/songwriter, part storyteller, part social-commentator and humorist,
Ippolito has become famous for his simple catch phrase, "It's just
us," and his ability to turn a large crowd of strangers into a group
of friends. Theater for the New City will present the world premiere September
28 to October 20, 2013.
Since 1992, David Ippolito has established himself as perhaps the City's
leading troubadour. Articles have described him as an "organic
celebrity," meaning that his following congealed spontaneously after
he turned up in Central Park 22 years ago, shirtless and shoeless, with
nothing but precise musicality and boyish good looks (and a small amplifier).
His performance space--a lakefront area a few blocks north of Strawberry
Fields and West 72nd Street--is now indicated on Central Park maps and
his reputation as a New York attraction is international. Regulars
join in, "Rocky Horror" style, for spirited sing-alongs to many
of Ippolito's own compositions and cover tunes like "American Pie"
and "Country Roads." When his playing and that of many others
were blocked (temporarily) by zealous City officials, "That Guitar
Man" brought his sounds indoors to venues including Merkin Concert
Hall and The Leonard Nimoy Thalia for regular sold-out performances. Other
recurring venues have been Soho Playhouse and Hudson River Park's Pier
45 at Christopher Street. Among the New Yorkers he's won over was
Sid Bernstein, the late rock manager who brought the Beatles to NYC in
1964 and was a fan for years.
Ippolito's own songs are unabashedly liberal but not heady, relying on
Stephen Schwartz-like rhymes and Beatles-like melodies. They include
folksy attacks on plastic pop culture ("Tom Cruise Scares Me")
and middlebrowism ("This is a… Stupid Country"). He's
a sometime actor and once (about ten years ago) appeared on "Who Wants
to Be a Millionaire," winning $64,000. He calls himself a "possibility
junkie" because of his addiction to trying anything that could be
wished for. He also considers himself to be one of the "luckiest
men alive" and delights in recounting the "coincidences"
that have brought him to public attention. They include anonymously dropping
hand-drawn Christmas Cards at an Upper West Side address that was the former
home of Virginia O'Hanlon ("Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."),
which caused him to be tracked down for an article in The New York Times.
In 2009, Ippolito recorded "Resolution (The Torture Song)," a
six-minute music video and cri de coeur against American post-9/11 interrogation
policies. It was discovered by West Coast activist Cynthia Papermaster,
who dipped into her retirement account to boil it down to three :30 commercials
that aired in the Bay Area, calling for Attorney General Eric Holder to
indict Dick Cheney and others for violating existing laws that should have
prevented the use of torture.
It was inevitable that friends and colleagues, including Broadway legend
Tony Walton, would eventually persuade "That Guitar Man" to develop
a stage musical to bring his music and message to a wider audience. Thus
was born "Possibility Junkie," the musical. It's the story
of a fiercely independent street musician who writes a funny but politically
charged song poking fun at a thin-skinned conservative talk-show host,
Sean Kilroy, who's a star of the thinly-fictional broadcast organization
FAX News and who considers himself the voice of America. The satirical
song goes viral on YouTube, which REALLY pisses off this powerful right-winger.
So Kilroy sends a beautiful and ambitious young woman on a special
assignment to entrap and destroy the "Guitar Man." It sets up
a "David and Goliath" scenario and a ride that's unpredictable,
thought-provoking and fun. Throughout, "Possibility Junkie"
retains the optimism and fiercely independent spirit that has characterized
Ippolito's career to-date. Tony Walton refers to the show as a "grandchild
The late Sid Bernstein, the rock promoter who brought the Beatles to NYC
in 1964, was a fan for 15 years and a unique inspiration for the show.
According to Ippolito, Bernstein called frequently with ideas. Ippolito
remembers, "Once I got a voice mail saying, 'David, it's 9:40 AM.
Keep hope alive.' That gave me the idea for the finale." One
of the play's characters, a wise, elderly Black man named Burn, is actually
based on Bernstein. Bernstein was inspiration for the title of the
show: Ippolito refers to him as the original "possibility junkie."
Bernstein died, at age 95, on August 13, while the show was in rehearsal
for this Theater for the New City run.
The project was embraced by Gretchen Cryer ("I'm Getting My Act Together
and Taking It on the Road"), who signed on as co-author and director.
Cryer was touched by Ippolito's "warmth, humor, wit and political
edge." Theater for the New City hosted the piece for a developmental
workshop in September, 2012 and will now present the full production.
In this musical, toe-tapping is not enough. The audience is encouraged
to sing along, just like the "people on the hill" do when Ippolito
performs by The Lake in Central Park. To add to the fun, the score includes
adaptations of Ippolito's perennial favorites, including "Tom Cruise
Scares Me" (rewritten as "Sean Kilroy Scares Me" ) and "There
Will Always Be People (Who Suck)." The score draws from Broadway,
folk/rock, rap and lyrical pop ballads, all with a main ingredient of audience
participation. Visually, the show will look like the essence of its
message: that each of us creates the "real world" in which we
want to live, offering a starkly visual contrast between a bucolic location
in New York’s Central Park, the coldness of a TV news studio and the reality
of the city streets.
Music and lyrics are by David Ippolito. Book is by Ippolito and Gretchen
Cryer. The show is directed by Ms. Cryer. Musical director is Mike
Murray. Choreography is by David Eggers. Set design is by Heather
Wolensky. The performers are Jillian Louis, Rob Barnes, Joel H. Jones,
David Ippolito, Vanessa Theus, JC Hall and Teresa Reynolds. There
is an onstage orchestra of five.
Gretchen Cryer (director) is most well known for writing the book and lyrics
and starring in "I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the
Road" (with music by Nancy Ford), which won the Joseph Jefferson Award
for Best Musical and a Grammy nomination for its album. Cryer has written
numerous other shows with Nancy Ford, including "Now Is the Time for
All Good Men" (Off-Broadway), "The Last Sweet Days of Isaac"
(Obie Award – Best Musical, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award),
"Shelter" (Broadway – Golden Theater), "Hang On to the
Good Times" (Manhattan Theater Club), "The Fabulous Party"
(Williamstown Theater Festival), "The American Girls Revue" (American
Girl Place – Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles), "Circle of Friends"
(American Girl Place – Chicago and New York) and "Anne of Green Gables"
(Theatreworks, Lortel Theater.) Cryer and Ford have just finished
a new show, "Still Getting My Act Together." "I'm
Getting My Act Together..." was recently presented in the Encore series.
Ippolito says, "Gretchen and I and the entire creative team behind
'Possibility Junkie' are incredibly grateful to Theater for the New City
for presenting this brand new musical to the world. Crystal Field and the
crew at TNC create exactly the right atmosphere for a fun and audacious
theater piece like this."
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