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Booth! The Musical

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The migration of a musical from the midwest to Broadway!
(now featuring GECA member John Mascaro as JUNIUS BRUTUS BOOTH)
 
        “…think no more of him now as your brother. He is dead to us now.”

The original musical

Booth! is an examination of the life of 19th-Century maverick actor Edwin Booth, told from the perspective of his daughter, Edwina. Undoubtedly, the infamous assassination of Abraham Lincoln by his brother, John Wilkes, plays a major part in shaping and influencing Edwina’s exploration of the life of her father. Engulfed in this reflection, we undertake a musical voyage into the sometimes disturbing relationships that defined Edwin as son, husband, father, brother and actor.

Members of an angry mob storm Edwin Booth's house after hearing that his brother, John Wilkes Booth, killed President Lincoln in the play
News Brief: 'Booth!' in the Big Apple
St. Louis Current 11/3/2008
 
"Booth!", a historical musical written by faculty and staff at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, made its debut in April 2007 at the Blanche M. Touhill Performing Arts Center. The production, about John Wilkes Booth's family dealing with the fallout from President Abraham Lincoln's assassination, will next be staged within the artistic enclave of New York's Greenwich Village, according to a press release from the University.

Through a competitive process, the faculty of the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University selected "Booth!" to be produced June 2 through 9 at NYU's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts.

According to the release, Barbara Harbach, professor of music and composer for "Booth!' said, "This will truly be a great way to showcase this UMSL original production for an East Coast audience, and it could prove to be a tremendous opportunity to recruit new students to the university's art programs."

In addition to the premiere of "Booth!" first being staged at UM-St. Louis, the musical has several ties to the university. Jonathan Yordy, former public relations coordinator, wrote lyrics for the songs in "Booth!" while he was with the university. Niyi Coker, the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor for African/African-American Studies, directed "Booth!" and wrote the musical's book, or dialogue.

UMSL students and staff will transform the touhill into broadway with its debut of 'Booth!' The Musical

Cate Marquis  St. Louis Current 4/9/2007

Cate MarquisKeith Boyer as Edwin Booth and Amanda Boyer as Edwina Booth rehearse a scene from

Has the campus been transformed into Broadway? You might as well ask, because the Touhill PAC is set to present the world premiere of a new musical, "Booth!" on April 13 and 14.

On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, actor John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. The musical play "Booth!" is not about that Booth but his brother, the brilliant, successful actor Edwin Booth, still widely regarded as the greatest American actor of the nineteenth century.

After his brother assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, Edwin Booth was tortured by that legacy, and the Booth family was the object of anger and suspicion by the American public in the wake of the incident. "Booth!" tells Edwin Booth's story through the memory of his daughter Edwina.

Musicals on serious and historical subjects are not really so rare. This seems a particularly fascinating subject: how this talented actor was haunted and tormented by his brother's actions in the years following the wrenching Civil War.

Interestingly, the play's second performance takes place on the 142nd anniversary of the assassination.

The play was created by UM-St. Louis professors and staff. Book and direction are by Niyi Coker, the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor for African/African-American Studies at UMSL, with music by Barbara Harbach, professor of music at UMSL, and lyrics by Jonathan Yordy, coordinator of public relations at UMSL.

The idea for the musical production originated with Yordy but it was a collaborative effort. "It was more or less my idea but I don't want to take all the credit," said Yordy in a recent interview. "Barbara (Harbach, who created the score) and I talked to a number of actors and found a great deal if interest in the idea," he said. "Edwin Booth is thought to be the greatest American actor of the nineteenth century."

"We wanted to put a spotlight on how the assassination affected Edwin Booth and his family," said Yordy. Edwin faced the results of his brother's actions with courage and strength but it was only one of many challenges and tragedies Edwin and the theatrical family faced over the years.
 
Despite family and personal challenges, Edwin Booth's career flourished. According to Yordy, Edwin Booth was enormously successful in his career, even after the assassination, earning the equivalent of five million a year from his acting roles.

The play sounds good but it gets better. This new musical is the creation of campus faculty, from concept to lyrics, to music, to staging and direction. Even many in the cast have campus connections as alumni or students.

The role of Edwin Booth is played by UM-St. Louis alum Keith Boyer, who has extensive experience in local productions, with companies such as Opera Theater of St. Louis and Union Avenue Opera Theater. Edwina, his daughter, is played by UM-St. Louis student Amanda Boyer, who is Keith Boyer's wife. UM-St. Louis students also participate behind the scenes, helping with sets, costumes, and technical aspects of production.

Barbara Harbach, professor of music, who has also written scores for several silent films shown on campus and elsewhere, wrote the score for "Booth!"

This is one of several projects that Yordy and Harbach have collaborated on. Besides composing symphonies, musicals and film scores, Harbach is an accomplished concert organist and harpsichordist, and has toured in Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Germany, among others. She was also an organizer of last year's Women in the Arts-St. Louis events.

The play took final form under Niyi Coker, the E. Desmond Lee Endowed Professor for African/African-American Studies. Coker wrote the dialog between scenes, called the book, and arranged the songs into a play. He also directs the production.

Coker has extensive credits as playwright, author, producer and director. Directing credits include the play "Topdog/Underdog," presented on campus last semester. He is also the founding artistic director of the African Arts Ensemble in New York, NY.

His credits are international, including turns as artistic director at Malmo Hogskola in Sweden, "The" theater in Bermuda and National Theatre of Nigeria. His plays include "Ouray," based on struggles of the Native American Utes in nineteenth century Colorado, and "Endangered Species," which was performed at the John Houseman Theatre in New York.

The world premiere of the musical "Booth!" represents a coming of age for the campus' budding performing arts program. It also offers students a unique chance to learn more about an engrossing slice of American and theater history.

Voice from the Whirlwind

Originally published at http://www.stlmag.com/media/St-Louis-Magazine/February-2008/Voice-from-the-Whirlwind/

In 2007, composer, musician, professor and publisher Barbara Harbach debuted a movie score, a stage musical and two new choral works. And that’s what she calls a slow year

By Chris King
Photograph by David Torrence


Those who know the St. Louis music scene—or, really, scenes—in any depth know this town harbors any number of artists who rank among the national (or international) leaders in their craft, yet are little known locally outside their musical niche. The composer, musician and publisher Barbara Harbach is one.

A woman is much more than her resume, but a partial list of Harbach’s recent projects is needed to suggest the range and reach of her accomplishments.

Her original score to Matrimony’s Speed Limit, a 1913 silent film made by Alice Guy-Blaché (who’s considered the first woman director), was premiered at the 2007 St. Louis International Film Festival in November. An October program at the Sheldon, “A Tribute to Pioneer Women,” featured four of Harbach’s chamber pieces, honoring folks like Maya Angelou, Abigail Adams and Nancy Kranzberg. In September she presided over the release of two CDs of her compo­sitions—one set for orchestra, the other for chamber ensemble—both recorded in Bratislava, Slovakia, and put out by MSR Classics (Newton, Conn.). And her stage musical Booth! (with a book by Niyi Coker) premiered at the Touhill on the campus of the University of Missouri–St. Louis in April. (The title refers to main character Edwin Booth, whose acting career was overshadowed by his notorious brother, John Wilkes.)

Even that rundown passes over a North County church performance of her organ compositions and the premiere of two new choral works at Unity Evangelical Lutheran in Bel-Nor and at Nativity Lutheran Church in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Not to mention the fact that Harbach publishes all of her own compositions, with her business Vivace Press, which specializes in underrepresented composers—particularly other women, but also African-American, Ukrainian and Mexican composers. All of that, plus a day job (professor of music at UMSL) and a consuming volunteer gig (director of music at Little Flower Catholic Church in Richmond Heights).

Mind you, most of the above was accomplished in only one season (fall) of only one year (2007), which might be considered almost a slow year by Harbach’s standards. In 2005, for example, in addition to her work as a composer and musician, Harbach organized Women in the Arts, conceived of as “a year-long, multivenue celebration of women creators present and past,” which involved nearly every local arts institution and organization in the production of more than 850 events. Her credits as a composer and performer go back to the mid-1980s and take her all around the country and the world, springing from a sturdy academic foundation that includes degrees from Yale University (M.M.A.) and the Eastman School of Music (D.M.A.).

Harbach, who grew up “in the hills of Pennsylvania,” came to UMSL in 2003 in a package deal with her husband, Thomas George, who is the chancellor (and a chemistry prof and jazz pianist). Now she does her composing on piano (and computer) at home—that is, in the chancellor’s residence. Of course, a champion of women like Harbach would not merely trail her husband. The move to UMSL worked to her advantage, since the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, the couple’s prior academic home, had employed her as a professor of math and computing (other specialties of hers). “The music department there didn’t want me,” she said.

The music scene—or scenes—in St. Louis want her. Harbach said she likes St. Louis, not least because it has been generous to her as a composer. “I’ve had the good fortune to get musicians here to perform things by me and like them,” she said. The Equinox Chamber Players and the St. Louis Women’s Chorale have performed her compositions, as have UMSL music faculty members and Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra players in various settings. “St. Louis is very open,” she said, “and the performers are not blasé, not burned out.” Nor—by any stretch—is this whirlwind of a musician, composer, publisher and woman.

Learn more about Harbach’s latest academic projects, as well as Women in the Arts, by visiting www.umsl.edu/~harbachb; to see her personal projects, go to barbaraharbach.com.

http://www.msrcd.com/1253/1253.html

booth-junius-brutus.jpg
JUNIUS BRUTUS BOOTH

booth-edwin-thomas.jpg
EDWIN THOMAS BOOTH

booth-john-wilkes.jpg
JOHN WILKES BOOTH

New York University Skirball Performing Arts Center
 
New York University's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts is the premier venue for the presentation of cultural and performing arts events for NYU and lower Manhattan. Since opening in 2003, the 860-seat Skirball Center has been an educational and community building resource, providing NYU's first large-scale, professional performance space on campus. Through university events, presentations, and partnerships, the Skirball Center offers a unique multi-arts performance program in its intimate proscenium theater located on the south of Washington Square in the heart of Greenwich Village.

Music, theater, and dance have a rich history in Greenwich Village. NYU Skirball Center continues this tradition of creativity and artistic discovery with a broad range of compelling performance events at affordable ticket prices for the NYU community and our neighbors in an evolving lower Mahattan. The Center is committed to the University's role "in and of the world," and works closely with cultural partners to reflect its global urban home by presenting a variety of voices in many different languages. Above all, the Skirball Center is a reflection of NYU's commitment to education in, and through, the performing arts.

The Center's Shagan Box Office is located just off the sidewalk in our upper lobby.  The main theater lobby, located one level below the main entrance, provides a spacious and friendly atmosphere where audience members socialize and enjoy refreshments available from the café. Backstage, our support facilities including dressing rooms, wardrobe, a rehearsal area, and the Skirball technical staff's production office.

The generosity of the Skirball Foundation made the theater possible and, in recognition, it is named after Jack H. Skirball. The theater is situated at the base of the building while the Center's administrative offices are located on the 5th floor of the Helen and Martin Kimmel Center for University Life. The entire building was designed by distinguished architecht Kevin Roche.

The Skirball is one of New York City's Off-Broadway venues numerous productions having been reviewed by noted critics e.g.,  http://thewickedstage.blogspot.com/2005/08/reviews.html

DIRECTED BY NIYI COKER

MUSIC BY BARBARA HARBACH

LYRICS BY JONATHAN YORDY

CAST 

NEW YORK CITY OFF-BROADWAY PRODUCTION

EDWIN BOOTH - Keith Boyer

EDWINA BOOTH - Amanda Boyer

ASIA BOOTH - Jessica Marasco

JOHN WILKES BOOTH - Kyle Minshew

MARY DEVLIN – Stella Markou

MARY MCVICKER – Susanna Fox

LUCY HALE - Nikki Casseri / Liza Miller

MOTHER - Jan Prokop

JUNIUS BRUTUS BOOTH - John Mascaro

MRS. BOOTH - Ruth Ellen Cheney

JUNIUS BOOTH’S THEATRE MANAGER- Steven Bednasz

JUNIUS BOOTH, JR. - Marty McNamee

STAGE MANAGER- Logan Rummel

SALESMAN - Matt Amend

JOHN BROWN - Marcus Peterson

THEATRE ATTENDANT 1 – Nick Romaniello

THEATRE ATTENDANT 2 – Matt Jenkins

BICYCLE RIDER - Evan Schultz

JUDGE - Jerry Carrier

BARTENDER – Jared Eberlein

LINCOLN- Matt Amend

MANAGER FORD THEATRE- Matt Amend

UNION SOLDIER- Joe Cummings

Jared Eberlein – MOB LEADER

Joe Cummings – MOB 1

Nikki Casseri – MOB 3

Eliza Hurbeth – MOB 5

THE MOB:

Steven Bednasz

James Erickson- MOB 2

Kiwi Calahan - MOB 4

Jessie Standafer

Ruth Ellen Cheney

Marty McNamee

Jerry Carrier

Marcus Peterson

Alyssa Libonati

Sarah Minerd

Erica Swindell

Claire Duncan

JUNIUS BOOTH THEATRE PATRONS: (OUTDOORS)

Evan Schultz

Traver Tischio

Caley Rose - CROWD 1

Ruth Ellen Cheney

Paige Simunovich

Ayla Guttman

Annie Falco

Ashley Aquilo

Claire Duncan

JUNIUS BOOTH THEATRE CROWD (INDOORS)/ BAR CUSTOMERS

Nikki Casseri - BAR LADIES

Eliza Hurbeth - BAR LADIES

Jessie Standafer – BAR LADIES

Kiwi Callahan - BAR LADIES

Liza Miller – BAR LADIES

Ruth Ellen Cheney

James Erickson

Joe Cummings

Matt Jenkins

Nick Romanielleo

Andy Wheeler- PIANIST

Jared Eberlein - BARTENDER

Marty McNamee – DRINKER 1

Marcus Peterson

Alyssa Libonati

Sarah Minerd

Erica Swindell

DOCK CROWD:Liza Miller

Kiwi Calahan

Jessie Standofer

Eliza Hurberth

Nikki Casseri - VOICE 2

Caley Rose

Matt Amend - SALESMAN

Evan Schultz - BICYCLIST

Logan Rummel

Traver Tischio

Joe Cummings

Steven Bednasz

James Erickson

Nicky Romaniello – VOICE 3

Matthew Jenkins - VOICE 1

Jared Eberlein

Andy Wheeler

Alyssa Libonati

Sarah Minerd

Erica Swindell

Anise Falco

Ashley Aquilo

Paige Simunovich

Ayla Guttman

Claire Duncan

JOHN BROWN COURTROOM CROWD

Liza Miller

Kiwi Calahan

Jessie Standofer

Eliza Hurberth

Nikki Casseri

Caley Rose

Matt Amend

Evan Schultz

Logan Rummel

Claire Duncan

Traver Tischio

Joe Cummings

Steven Bednasz

James Erickson

Andy Wheeler

Nicky Romaniello

Alyssa Libonati

Sarah Minerd

Erica Swindell

Matthew Jenkins - MAN 1

Jared Eberlein - MAN 2

PRESIDENT LINCOLN CROWD

Liza Miller

Kiwi Calahan

Jessie Standofer

Eliza Hurberth

Nikki Casseri

Caley Rose

Matt Amend

Evan Schultz

Logan Rummel

Traver Tischio

Joe Cummings

Steven Bednasz

James Erickson

Nicky Romaniello

Alyssa Libonati

Matthew Jenkins - MAN 1

Jared Eberlein - MAN 2

Andy Wheeler

Sarah Minerd

Erica Swindell

Claire Duncan

FORD THEATRE PATRONSLiza Miller

Kiwi Calahan

Jessie Standofer

Eliza Hurberth

Nikki Casseri

Caley Rose

Evan Schultz

Logan Rummel

Traver Tischio

Steven Bednasz

James Erickson

Nicky Romaniello

Joe Cummings

Alyssa Libonati

Andy Wheeler

Sarah Minerd

Erica Swindell

Claire Duncan

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