Laura Osnes and Will Swenson to Star in Waterwell's BLUEPRINT SPECIALS Musicals at Under the Radar 2017
Waterwell announced today the revival of the Blueprint Specials, a series of lost WWII-era musicals composed principally by Broadway legend Frank Loesser to be presented in association with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and The Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival. The production will star Tony Award nominees Laura Osnes (Cinderella, Bonnie and Clyde) and Will Swenson (Hair) and be directed by Drama Desk nominee Tom Ridgely.
Additional casting will be a combination of civilian artists and U.S. Military Veterans. The original choreography for the Blueprint Specials by modern dance giant José Limón will be reconstructed by José Limón Dance Foundation Artistic Director Colin Connor and Limón Dance Company dancers.
Originally conceived in 1944-45 by the Special Services Division of the War Department, the Blueprint Specials were created by virtual Who's Who of 20th century American entertainers. Alongside the Tony, Oscar and Pulitzer winning Loesser were writer Arnold M. Auerbach, who later wrote for Milton Berle and won an Emmy for his work on The Phil Silvers Show, and choreographer José Limón, later a towering figure in the development of modern dance. Additional lyrics were contributed by Hy Zaret ("Unchained Melody", Ballads for the Age of Science), and the dance numbers were composed by future 15-time Academy Award nominee Alex North (A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of Salesman, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf).
"The fact that in the midst of the most widespread war in history the U.S. Army was bothering at all to commission Broadway-style musicals is astonishing," said Waterwell Artistic Director Arian Moayed. "The fact that they were created by artists of this caliber feels almost miraculous. These are documents of immense historical importance, and we couldn't be more honored to be giving them their first staging since 1945, and their first ever for the American public."
The Blueprints were conceived as what Special Services described as "a novel and very practical service for soldiers who wish to put on good GI shows for GI audiences". Called "Blueprints" once they'd been written and tried-out, the Army packaged and distributed them as a complete script, score/orchestrations, scenic & costume drawings, plus instructions for how to put on the show. As such these extraordinary works can be seen and heard today exactly as their creators intended.
They highlight the fact that, while the forms of entertainment and ways in which soldiers maintain morale may have changed dramatically since WWII, their need for creative outlets and communal diversion has not. To help engage a substantive military-civilian dialogue and foster mutual exchange and increased understanding of the effects of armed service, Waterwell is collaborating with Victor Hurtado, U.S. Army Veteran and former director of Army Entertainment and the Army Soldier show, as well as casting a combination of civilian artists and Military Veterans, both onstage and off.
"The soldier show is a tradition that stretches back a hundred years, to WWI and Irving Berlin," Hurtado said. "And I have seen firsthand what involvement in music and the arts can do for service member's morale and the contribution it makes to their resilience. The Blueprints represent an unprecedented opportunity to partner with our military veteran artists, technicians and musicians by giving them a chance to stand shoulder to shoulder with Broadway professionals to tell their story."
The Blueprint Specials will play six performances on the hangar deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum: Friday, January 6, 7:30pm; Saturday, January 7, 8:00pm; Sunday, January 8, 3:00pm; Monday, January 9, 7:00pm; Wednesday, January 11: 11:00am (school groups only) and 7:30pm. The Museum is centered on Intrepid, a US Navy aircraft carrier that served during World War II, the Cold War and the Vietnam War.
Tickets are $25 for the general public and $20 for Intrepid Museum members. Please visit www.intrepidmuseum.org/blueprintspecials for more information and to purchase. For more information, visit www.waterwell.org, www.intrepidmuseum.org or www.undertheradarfestival.com.
The Blueprint Specials will feature music direction by Sonny Paladino (Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, Pippin), choreography by Patrick McCollum (Oh, Hello on Broadway, The Last Ship), scenic & costume design by Andrea Lauer (Bring It On The Musical, American Idiot), and lighting design by Greg Goff.
WATERWELL (Arian Moayed & Tom Ridgely, Artistic Directors) is a unique ensemble of theater artists dedicated to the creation of new work and the bold re-interpretation of classics. The company's special blend of music, theater and social dialog has been nominated for three IT awards, a Drama Desk, a New York Magazine Culture Award and a Village Voice Best of NYC.
THE INTREPID SEA, AIR & SPACE MUSEUM is a non-profit, educational institution featuring the legendary aircraft carrier Intrepid, the space shuttle Enterprise, the world's fastest jets and a guided missile submarine. Through exhibitions, educational programming and the foremost collection of technologically groundbreaking aircraft and vessels, visitors of all ages and abilities are taken on an interactive journey through history to learn about American innovation and bravery. The Intrepid Museum fulfills its mission to honor our heroes, educate the public and inspire our youth by connecting them to history through hands-on exploration while bridging the future by inspiring innovation.
Over the last 13 years, The Public's UNDER THE RADAR FESTIVAL has presented over 210 companies from 41 countries. It has grown into a landmark of the New York City theater season and is a vital part of The Public's mission, providing a high-visibility platform to support artists from diverse backgrounds who are redefining the act of making theater. Widely recognized as a premier launching pad for new and cutting-edge performance from the U.S. and abroad, UTR has presented works by such respected artists as Elevator Repair Service, Nature Theater of Oklahoma, Gob Squad, Belarus Free Theatre, Guillermo Calderón, and Young Jean Lee. These artists provide a snapshot of contemporary theater: richly distinct in terms of perspectives, aesthetics, and social practice, and pointing to the future of the art form.
PVT. FRANK LOESSER (Music and Lyrics) has been called the most versatile of all Broadway composers. His five Broadway musicals, each a unique contribution to the art of the American musical theater, were as different from each other as they were from the theater of their day: Where's Charley?, Guys And Dolls, The Most Happy Fella, Greenwillow and How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying. Long before he wrote Where's Charley?, he was already known to America from the dozens of songs that had become enormous popular hits from his Hollywood career. He had supplied lyrics to the music of such greats as Jule Styne, Hoagy Carmichael, Burton Lane and Arthur Schwartz, among others, penning such standards as "On a Slow Boat to China," "Two Sleepy People," "Heart and Soul," "I Don't Want to Walk Without You," "Spring Will Be a Little Late this Year," "(See What) The Boys in the Backroom (Will Have)," "They're Either Too Young or Too Old" and his 1948 Academy Award winner, "Baby, It's Cold Outside."
PVT. ARNOLD M. AUERBACH (Book) was an American comedy writer, especially for radio, television and newspapers. He also was a contributed material to the Broadway musicals Call Me Mister, Inside U.S.A., Bless You All and Ziegfeld Follies of 1957. Auerbach wrote radio and television scripts for Eddie Cantor, Milton Berle, Fred Allen, Frank Sinatra and Phil Silvers, among others. In 1956 he shared a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing - Comedy Series for The Phil Silvers Show. Auerbach contributed humor columns to the New York Times, and published a humorously-styled novel, Is That Your Best Offer? (1971). He published the 1965 memoir Funny Men Don't Laugh about his collaborations with radio comedians.
PVT. JOSÉ LIMÓN (Original Choreography) was a crucial figure in the development of modern dance: his powerful dancing shifted perceptions of the male dancer, while his choreography continues to bring a dramatic vision of dance to audiences around the world. Born in Mexico, Limón moved to New York City in 1928 after a year at UCLA as an art major. In 1946, he established his own company with Doris Humphrey as Artistic Director. It was under her experienced directorial eye that Limón created his signature dance, The Moor's Pavane (1949). Limón's choreographic works were quickly recognized as masterpieces and the Company itself became a landmark of American dance. He was a consistently productive choreographer until his death in 1972, and he was also an influential teacher and advocate. He was in residence each summer at the American Dance Festival, a key faculty member in The Juilliard School's Dance Division beginning in 1953, and the director of Lincoln Center's American Dance Theatre from 1964-65. Limón received two Dance Magazine Awards, the Capezio Award and honorary doctorates from four universities in recognition of his achievements. He was the subject of a major retrospective exhibition at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, The Dance Heroes of José Limón (Fall 1996), and in 1997 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame at the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, NY.