"A FOR ADULTERY" BY PAUL DICK, AN OPERATIC MUSICAL
BASED ON HAWTHORNE'S "THE SCARLET LETTER"
WHERE AND WHEN:
September 14 to 30, 2012
Little Times Square Theatre (of Roy Arias Studios & Theaters), 300
W 43rd Street, 4 floor.
Presented by Passajj Productions
Tickets $18 general admission; $10 students with ID, TDF accepted
Box office Ticket Central 212-279-4200 http://www.ticketcentral.com
Wednesdays through Fridays at 8:00 pm; Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 pm; Sundays
at 3:00 pm
Recommended for ages 14 and up.
Running time: 90 minutes
CRITICS ARE INVITED on or after September 16.
DETAILS AND ARTIST INFO:
"A for Adultery," a dramatic musical based on Hawthorne's "The
Scarlet Letter" by veteran composer/playwright Paul Dick, will be
presented September 14 to 30, 2012 by Passajj Productions at Little Times
Square Theatre (of Roy Arias Studios & Theatres,) 300 W 43rd Street
(4 fl.), Manhattan, directed by Marlene Thorn Taber. Paul Dick has penned
over 15 Off-off Broadway tuners between the 60's and now. His last
productions were an operatic "Wuthering Heights, a Romantic Musical"
at the Mint Theatre Space in 2010 and a musical version of the Exodus story
at Roy Arias Theatres last fall.
Everyone's read "The Scarlet Letter" but have you heard it sung?
In an age of postmodernism, when most theatrical adaptations of Hawthorne's
magnum opus have done little for his legacy, Paul Dick's adaptation is
instead extremely faithful to the novel, so you won't find yourself grasping
for your bearings. Dick refers to his show as a "dramatic musical."
He approached the book with reverence and now says, "Hawthorne
wrote a beautiful novel. I have tried to the best of my ability to
match his work." He quips that this musical may be a new vision,
but it's not a revision. Beside standard adult audiences, the piece
is recommended for high school students, who usually read "The Scarlet
Letter" in their literature programs.
The production, an AEA Showcase, is not an opera by definition but some
of its roles require well-trained singers with operatic "chops."
The role of Hester, the adulteress who struggles to create a new life of
repentance and dignity, is written for a lyric soprano. Reverend
Arthur Dimmesdale, her lover whose life is broken by his guilt, is a tenor.
Doctor Roger Chillingworth, Hester's missing husband who was presumed dead
but reappears as Dimmesdale's nemesis, is a high baritone. There
are seven more in the ensemble, including two children, who play Pearl,
Hester's willful, impish daughter; and Elizabeth, the "good child"
whom Pearl is frustratingly measured against.
The music includes ballads and "angst driven" songs of shame
and remorse. It's operatic in the sense that most of it is sung, although
much of the show's drama comes from spoken parts. The score, overall,
is fluid in its tone and texture. There is recitative, set into pieces
in which the characters reveal what they are going through. Mr. Dick
has a knack for writing good tunes and a distinctive musical style informs
most of his writings. It's his own voice: lyrical, chromatic and unexpected.
Harmonically, the score is similar to Mr. Dick's other shows, including
his "Wuthering Heights," which was seen at the Mint Theater in
The stage picture will be dominated by Roejendra Adams' costumes, which
will have an authentic 17th century look and feel. The set by Rohit
Kapoor will have a "nature-like" cyclorama or backdrop, with
tree limbs to suggest the rustic nature of the Puritan colony. Otherwise,
the locations will be suggested minimistically, with lighting to establish
different locations the story moves through.
Paul Dick is author of over 15 musicals; many are based on classic sources,
including "Madame Bovary" (directed by Elizabeth Falk, 2007),
"I Knock at the Door" (based on the Sean O'Casey novel) and "Once/Twice"
(the first half based on "A Sunny Morning" by the Quintero brothers;
the second half was based on Chekhov's "The Bear"). Others are
based on more contemporary sources, such as "Tania" (based on
newspaper accounts of the Patty Hearst affair, presented by NY Theatre
Workshop), "White Widow" (based on the play "Mafia"
by Mario Fratti) and "Anytime, Anywhere" (a story of gay soldiers
In June, 2010, reviewing the revival of his "Wuthering Heights, a
Romantic Musical" at the Mint Theatre Space, Deirdre Donovan wrote
in Theatrescene.net, "it demolishes the myth that musicals with a
literary source always dilute their origins....A lot of musicals run out
of steam. But not this one. Abetted by the solid acting of its large cast
(including 3 children), the show has no dull spots." The review concluded,
"Bronte brought to her novel a moral anger at injustice, a compassion
for the dispossessed, and an acute awareness of the inflexibility of social
classes circa 1790. The highest compliment I can pay to this production
is that I don't think Emily Bronte herself would have felt that her material
had been tarnished or betrayed."
Mr. Dick is an Off-off Broadway original. His earliest works were presented
by the WPA Theater when it was located on 333 Bowery. He participated in
Lehman Engel's BMI Workshop and his musicals were championed by Alan Schneider.
He currently resides in Long Valley, NJ.
Mr. Dick's body of work represents an unusual abundance of shows and reflects
an unusual variety of creative interests. "Quiet Cry: A Musical Murder
Mystery" (2005) was about babies born to drug-addicted mothers. "Soar
Like an Eagle" was about the Berlin Airlift. "Cybele, a Love
Story" was based on the Academy Award-winning French film, "Sundays
and Cybele." Some were referred to as "piano operas." At
least three are still unproduced. One of these, "Inferno," is
about the founding of a labor union. They are mostly antithetical to the
dissonance of modern operas and straightforward compared to the thumb-in-the-eye
alternative theater that has often surrounded them in "Downtown"
"A for Adultery" was produced once before, at the Beckett Theater
on Theatre Row in 2004.
Director Marlene Thorn Taber helmed Dick's Exodus adaptation, "Moses,
My Love," last fall. She is a director and choreographer of
international theater who lived, worked and taught in China, Ukraine, and
Moscow from 1998 to 2008. She has taught Jazz and Musical Theatre at La
Guardia High School for the Performing Arts from 2009-2011. She directed
shows for the US Air Force Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Division in
CA and was honored for her work in "Tops in Blues." She further
directed/choreographed two musical revues funded by the US Peace Corps
in Ukraine. She was an assistant to Director Alan Schneider for "The
American Dream" and "Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse Tung"
by Edward Albee at the Phoenix Theatre. As a result, she became Executive
Coordinator to Edward Albee for over five years early in her career. Her
pre-Broadway credits include "In the Name of the Awesome, the Seed,
and the Blinding Light" by Fred Gordon (St. Clement's). She is a member
Set design is by Rohit Kapoor. Costume design is by Roejendra Adams. Lighting
Designer is Scott Needham. Production Stage Manager is Jason Heely. The
Musical Director is TBA as of this writing.
The performers are Malaika Bockman (Elizabeth), Peter Bockman (Jailer,
Carpenter), Debra Thais Evans (Hibbins, Townswoman), Drew Martin (Roger
Chillingworth), Leah Monzillo (Hester Prynne), Richard James Porter (Governor
Bellingham), Leandra Ramm (Mistress Higginbottom), John Rice (Reverend
Arthur Dimmesdale), Christopher Tefft (Crier, Blacksmith, Magistrate) and
Reyna Whitty (Pearl).
John Rice (Rev. Dimmsdale) has appeared in the ensemble of the Metropolitan
Opera since 2009. Leah Monzillo (Hester), originally from Florida,
has appeared there as Aldonza in "Man of La Mancha" and Vicki
in "The Full Monty," among others. Drew Martin (Doctor
Chillingworth) is a singer/actor who has appeared in musicals and operas
in regional theaters.
Passajj Productions will present "A for Adultery" September 14
to 30, 2012 at Little Times Square Theatre (of Roy Arias Studios &
Theatres), 300 W 43rd St., 4 fl., Manhattan. The production schedule
is Wednesdays through Fridays at 8:00 pm; Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 pm;
Sundays at 3:00 pm. Tickets are $18 general admission and $10 students
with ID. TDF is accepted. To purchase tickets, call Ticket Central
at 212-279-4200 or visit http://www.ticketcentral.com.