Two Northwestern theatre classes, including senior theatre major Nate Lewellyn and School of Music junior Sally Eidman, helped develop the musical adaptation of Not Wanted on the Voyage for the American Music Theatre. The show opens July 15.
Single and group tickets now are on sale for the new American Music Theatre Project (AMTP) musical Not Wanted on the Voyage, the latest work by award-winning Broadway writers Neil Bartram and Brian Hill. The production will be presented July 15 through Aug. 8.
Not Wanted on the Voyage is a musical about an ordinary family faced with extraordinary circumstances. Secrets lie just beneath the surface in this darkly funny, modern re-imaging of the Great Flood. The musical is adapted from the landmark Canadian novel of the same title by late author Timothy Findley.
Performances will take place at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays (with the exception of a Saturday, Aug. 7 performance that will be held at 2 p.m.) and at 2 p.m. Sundays, from July 15 through Aug. 8, in the Ethel M. Barber Theater, 30 Arts Circle Drive.
Under the direction of award-winning director and assistant theatre professor Amanda Dehnert (Romeo and Juliet, Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier), the production will feature rain, fire, magic and an eclectic score. Dehnert will be joined by Broadway veterans David Holcenberg (music director, Bye Bye Birdie, Mamma Mia!, Seussical, Titanic), Maija Garcia (choreographer, Fela!), and Eugene Lee (scenic designer, Wicked, Sweeney Todd, Goodman Theatre’s The Long Red Road).
“Not Wanted on the Voyage is an incredibly ambitious project,” Dehnert said. “It’s everything musical theatre should be: theatrically exciting, thought-provoking, funny, sad and ultimately incredibly moving. With surprises around every corner, Not Wanted on the Voyage promises to be an extraordinary evening in the theatre.”
Dehnert and Hill run a rehearsal with student actors.
For the second consecutive year, the National Endowment for the Arts has awarded the AMTP with an Access to Artistic Excellence grant. The $20,000 grant will support the process of developing Not Wanted on the Voyage.
The play has been in the works at AMTP since January 2007. Bartram and Hill, creators of The Story of My Life, which opened on Broadway in 2009, have been in residence on campus winter quarter to collaborate with Dehnert. The theatre department offered two courses in which students worked with the writers on the development of the musical.
Students played animals alighting the ark in this musical retelling of the biblical flood story.
In a joint e-mail statement, Bartram and Hill both raved about their experience developing their musical with AMTP:
“This opportunity has offered us time and resources, rare luxuries when developing a new musical,” they wrote. “We were provided the chance to spend 10 weeks on campus with extraordinary students who were not only talented, but willing, eager and game for anything. And since we were in residence for an entire quarter, we had the time to hone, rework and rewrite without the ticking clock of a typical twenty-nine-hour or even two-week workshop. This allowed us to see the piece grow and evolve in countless positive ways.
“After developing musicals in the professional world for more than ten years, this experience has frankly made us wonder if we’ve been doing it wrong all along. Working in a university setting, as we were with AMTP, is a win-win situation. There are huge educational benefits for the students, and much to be gained by the writers.”
The students had great things to say about the experience, as well.
“Getting to work closely with Neil Bartram and Brian Hill was an absolute delight — they are two very passionate and giving people who are constantly inspiring,” said Sally Eidman, a senior vocal performance and theatre double major who worked with the writers in one of the development classes.
Nate Lewellyn, a senior theatre major, has worked on the project since his sophomore year. “It has been really incredible to see how it has morphed and changed since then, which is a process that not many actors have a chance to experience,” he said. “The class has also allowed the students to get to know the writers in a more personal way.”
Actress Faith Prince lent her voice to a promotional recording of the musical and her time to talk to students on campus last fall.
In November, Tony Award-winning Broadway actress Faith Prince visited campus to record a demo of six songs from Not Wanted on the Voyage to share the piece with potential future producers and theatre partners. The demo also featured 30 Northwestern students and alumna Starr Busby (C09). Prince, who recently portrayed the sea-witch Ursula in the Broadway production of The Little Mermaid, also spoke to students while on campus.
“The American Music Theatre Project has been part of the development of Neil and Brian’s new work for the last two-and-a-half years,” said AMTP executive director Dominic Missimi. “The readings and workshops conducted here at Northwestern have provided meaningful support to their writing process. And the production this summer is an opportunity to explore the physical world of the piece through a full design and production process led by amazing artists.”
Tickets are $30 for the general public; $27 for seniors 65 and older, Northwestern faculty and staff and area educators and administrators; and $10 for full-time students. Additional discounts are available for groups of 15 or more. Tickets may be purchased through the TIC Box Office at 847-491-7282 or online at notwantedonthevoyage.com.
Information on upcoming productions in the 2010 Summer Music Theatre Festival season is available at www.tic.northwestern.edu.