BWW Interview: Melissa Errico on MORE BETWEEN HEAVEN AND EARTH and Her Year of Letters and Corsets!
Salon/Sanctuary Concerts presents More Between Heaven and Earth starring Campbell Scott and Melissa Errico. Directed and with a script by Erica Gould, the site-specific music-theatre production will be staged on Sunday, 8 December 2013 at 6pm at Fraunces Tavern at 54 Pearl Street, the oldest structure in Manhattan, built in 1719.
In the show, Campbell Scott plays Thomas Jefferson and Melissa Errico reprises her role as the stunning and trailblazing 18th century Italian singer, composer, and painter Maria Cosway in More Between Heaven and Earth, an original music-theatre work. Sparks flew between the widowed Jefferson and the recently married Maria Cosway when they met in Paris, and their passionate correspondence lasted for almost 40 years. More Between Heaven and Earth incorporates the text of that correspondence, music Maria and Jefferson heard together in Paris, and songs--sung by Errico--that Maria herself composed for Jefferson.
Errico took the time to chat with BroadwayWorld about the couple's romantic relationship, getting to reprise the role, working with Erica Gould, and more. Check out the full interview below!
What can you reveal about this story without giving too much away?
Well these are the verbatim love letters between Thomas Jefferson and Maria Cosway. Some of his published speeches and articles are also in it, but the script is mostly their voluminous 40-year correspondence. It covers the years 1785 through the French Revolution, so into 1824.
You'll hear a lot about Jefferson's ideas that have made him so famous- his really trailblazing ideas. But also, you'll get to hear some things that you might not have realized that he said. You'll hear him writing about how your religion shouldn't dictate your access to public office. He objected having 'Jesus Christ' in government texts, and that was very prevalent in that time. And he actually said that it is because it excluded Jews and Muslims- he actually said that! So he really defends religious rights in general. You get to hear a lot about his sophisticated politics and ideas.
And how does your character fit into all of it?
I play Maria Cosway, who was a very cosmopolitan, sophisticated Anglo-Italian woman. She grew up in Italy- she was a harpist, and a musician, and a painter. Her main thing was that she married well. It was decided that she should marry a wealthy and socially prominent man named Richard Cosway, but she didn't love him. He was twice her age and it was an unhappy marriage.
Maria's husband brought her to Paris, and the famous American painter John Trumbull was also there, and he was friends with Thomas Jefferson. So he fell in love with this stunningly beautiful young woman, and there were a couple of months in Paris when they first met that they were absolutely entranced by each other, and they would frequent these operas and listen to orchestras.
And music from those pieces is incorporated into the production?
Yes, you'll hear me sing her music that she wrote and mailed to Thomas Jefferson from Europe. Plus, you'll get to hear the music that these lovers heard together and feel what it was that they were listening to. I think that's kind of sexy!
Very! You get to perform this in an authentic, 18th century tavern. Have you gotten to check out the venue yet?
Yes, and some of the letters were written in the building that we are performing in! The space that we are performing in on Pearl Street, I went there today, and it was so freaky! There are pictures of George Washington that say things like "Sit where George Washington sat!" It was so groovy! There were sexy people in there, and it's down in the Financial District. I didn't expect to see all of these fun, attractive people having a great lunch [Laughs]
What do you think that audiences will take away from this story?
The centerpiece of the whole thing is that Thomas Jefferson is really humanized in these letters. We all think we know about him, but we see a very vulnerable and fragile side. The whole thing is very funny.