Reflections on Rehearsals #2

Last week I touched upon an interesting anomaly in the first of two pieces reflecting on rehearsal processes in theatre.  This week I have another.

As one of three lead producers for this NYMF production of The Mapmaker’s Opera I have to switch hats several times a day (or, sometimes, an hour) between the roles of overall management responsibility for the show on the ground in New York on the one hand, whilst simultaneously being one of the two writers of this piece with Victor Kazan (Book/Lyrics).

Business and Creativity are not adjunct to each other.  So why is it that we’re increasingly placing that burden on creatives – the outcome of which is entirely detrimental to commercial and non-commercial Arts practice in both the short and long-term.

One moment I am saying “No” to a request for an increase to a budget line, and in the next altering an underscore cue for the choreographer to make his musical staging more effective.  It can be an invidious position in which one finds oneself!  Fortunately, I have acquired over many years experience of artistically directing and curating major multi-million dollar music and theatre festivals (apart from my work as a musical director/songwriter) that much of this is ‘water off a duck’s back’ to me.  Nonetheless, I have tremendous sympathies for other creative writing teams in this Festival who, similarly, have to carry the burden of being all things to all people.  My view: creative people should be allowed to create – that’s what we do!  They shouldn’t have to be financiers, para-legal paperwork filers, marketeers, Press Relationship (PR) experts, or the myriad other duties that have been devolved to people whose expertise is in an entirely different milieu.  Creativity is ultimately denuded, once stripped of it critical function and focus.

OK, enough of that now. Let’s talk about the cast of very excellent men in The Mapmaker’s Opera!

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Reflections On Rehearsals #1

It is worth observing the anomaly that is rehearsing theatre when, in this case, you are one of two writers – and not part of the production team per se.  It is such a rare excursion for me to step away from either being an arranger and/or musical director to being just the composer (although I do double here as the un-acknowledged Music Supervisor).  It is a wonderful gift on this occasion to have the inspired talents of an arranger/orchestrator (Mark Buys) and a musical director (Daniel Rein) to allow me to do my thing – write the music.

But, for some fun, let’s talk behind the back of the cast shall we?  Let’s start with the women today:

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Hi Folks,

It is with tremendous pleasure that I introduce you (in alphabetical order) to the cast of the New York Musical Theatre Festival production of The Mapmaker’s Opera.  I have been listening to them for the last four days learning the words and music at Nola Studios here in Midtown Manhattan on 54th Street.  It is, simply, thrilling to hear the lyrics and music under the musical direction of Daniel Rein come to life.

As many of you who know me will attest, I’m not easily impressed.  So it is just so wonderful to have a cast of actor/singers in every role in this piece that are such a perfect fit.  It doesn’t happen by luck of course, but through the efforts of our director (Don Brenner) choreographer (Stas Kmiec) and the savvy of our casting director on this production, Michael Cassara.

So, scroll down and check out the ‘Who’s Who’ of The Mapmaker’s Opera.

AND A REMINDER:  General tickets go on sale tomorrow JUNE 16.  Book early to avoid missing out. Continue Reading →

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Breaking News: Madeleine Featherby Cast As Sofia Duarte for NYMF Production

Young Australian Performer Maddie Featherby Lives the Dream at NYMF

Maddie FeatherbyRising, young Australian performer Madeleine Featherby has been cast to play the leading role of Sofia Duarte in the new Australian musical, The Mapmaker’s Opera.  The show will premiere at the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) in July of this year as one of only ten official selections chosen by a Grand Jury of Broadway professionals for full production.

Maddie, who has just turned 23, will be the only Australian performer in an Actors Equity cast of thirteen.  Maddie is thrilled to have the opportunity to work closely with American performers, most of whom are seasoned Broadway and Off-Broadway actors.

Maddie has just completed an engagement with Victorian Opera, performing in La Traviata.  She will travel to New York on 9 June to begin rehearsals for The Mapmaker’s Opera, which opens Off-Broadway, at The Pearl Theatre Performance Space, 555 West 42nd Street, on 9 July.

Stage Whispers LogoThe Mapmaker’s Opera is an original work written by Australians, Kevin Purcell (Music) and Victor Kazan (Book & Lyrics).  Selected from hundreds of submissions worldwide, the show is the first Australian large-scale musical, adapted from a best-selling novel, to appear in the decade old festival.  NYMF, presented in the heart of New York’s theatre district, is the largest, and most prestigious annual Musical Theatre festival in the world. It provides a unique opportunity for writers to have their shows seen by the leading Broadway and professional regional theatre producers.

The Mapmaker’s Opera, adapted from the novel by Béa Gonzalez, is set in 1909, on the eve of the Mexican Revolution.  The story’s young Spanish hero, Diego Clemente arrives on the Yucatán Peninsula to help create a guide to the region’s wild birds. He finds himself in a world that is as precarious as it is beautiful, and where opulent estates are built on the backs of slave labour. Diego meets and falls in love with Sofia, a young woman who longs to be as free as the birds that they both love so dearly. This is a story of star-crossed passion, a pair of mysterious birds and undying love.

“It is a thrill to be taking part in such a prestigious festival, and a privilege to be playing the leading role of Sofia in such an emotional and powerful show,” said Maddie who hails from Melbourne.  And she is delighted to be returning to the Big Apple, having performed at the famous Jazz venue, Birdland, in 2011 with John Bucchino, in his Revue, It’s Only Life.

NYMF is the flagship program of The National Music Theater Network, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, and is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency. Now celebrating its 11th year, The New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF) exists to revitalize musical theatre culture by discovering and promoting new musical theatre artists, producers and projects, nurturing a vibrant and innovative artistic community, and connecting one of America’s greatest art forms with a diverse, contemporary audience.

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The NYMF Production Poster & Casting Announcement Coming Soon!

Hi Folks.  This is just a short post to let everyone know that we will be announcing our stellar cast for The Mapmaker’s Opera at the 2014 New York Musical Theatre Festival in the next few days, so come back soon for the big news!

Just so you know: the cast is totally awesome!

Here’s the final version of our beautiful production poster.  You can check out the names of all the creative team at the bottom.  You’ll be getting to know them quite well over the next two months!

Take care,

Kevin and Victor




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