Human Race Theatre Company to Present PLAY IT BY HEART, Begin. 6/12
The Human Race Theatre Company wraps up its 27th season with a long-awaited four-week run of the country musical Play It by Heart. The Preview performance is June 12, with Opening Night on June 13. All performances are at The Loft Theatre at 126 North Main Street in downtown Dayton.
With music by David Spangler and Jerry Taylor, lyrics by David Spangler, Jerry Taylor and R.T. Robinson, and book by Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winner Brian Yorkey (If/Then, Next to Normal, the upcoming The Last Ship), this fully produced regional premiere is the culmination of a four-year collaboration with The Human Race that began with a residency for the writers in 2009 and a reading in the theatre's summer 2010 Musical Theatre Workshops program. An early version of the musical premiere at Village Theatre in Washington state in 2005. Composer/lyricist David Spangler brought the script to the attention of Producing Artistic Director Kevin Moore. "After their production at Village, the writers all went off to work on other projects," says Moore. "Brian had this little show brewing called Next to Normal. In 2006, we workshopped the musical Nefertiti that David had written with Rick Gore. He and I stayed in touch, and in 2009 he told me about Play It by Heart, and that the writers all wanted to get back to it. I read it, listened to the songs and was hooked." The 2010 workshop proved to be a hit. "Our audiences loved it," exclaims Moore. "Over and over I heard, 'I'm usually not a country music fan, but I really liked this music and this show.' It's a universal story that speaks volumes about family and forgiveness-something that resonates with everyone." He also praises the score for its potential for mass appeal. "It's filled with so many 'radio-worthy' songs. I wouldn't be surprised if we hear some of them on the airwaves soon."
The Human Race Theatre Company production of Play It by Heart includes cast members Trisha Rapier (Sister Act on Broadway, Next to Normal) as Jeannine, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music graduate Kathryn Boswell (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson at Know Theatre of Cincinnati) as Jamie Lynn, Sharva Maynard (Little Women and Play It by Heart at Village Theatre, Play It by Heart 2010 HRTC workshop) as Naomi, Paul Blankenship (My Fair Lady at Cleveland Opera, The Grapes of Wrath at Cleveland Play House) as Billy, Human Race Resident Artists Scott Stoney (Other Desert Cities, Oliver!, Play It by Heart 2010 HRTC workshop) as Buck and Tim Lile (Managing Maxine, God of Carnage) as Lyle, George Psomas (South Pacific Broadway revival) as Naji, Christine Brunner (Permanent Collection, A Christmas Carol, Play It by Heart 2010 HRTC workshop) as Debbie Dean/Backup Singer, recent Wright State University graduate Cooper Taggard (Oklahoma!, Grand Hotel) as Davey/ Backup Singer and J.J. Tiemeyer (Next to Normal, Shenandoah, Play It by Heart 2010 HRTC workshop) as Robbie.
Musical Director Nils-Petter Ankarblom plays the keyboard and leads band members Mark Becknell on percussion, Jay Brunner on guitar, Cameron Cochran on pedal steel guitar, Joel Greenberg on bass and Laura Hazelbaker on fiddle.
The regional premiere is directed by Kevin Moore. Nils-Petter Ankarblom (Nefertiti) is the music director and Jay Brunner (Fiddler on the Roof, Next to Normal, Play It by Heart 2010 HRTC workshop) is the assistant music director. Set design is by Adam Koch (The 39 Steps, Tuna Christmas), costume design by Christine Peitzmeier (Becky's New Car), lighting design by Human Race Resident Artist John Rensel (Fiddler on the Roof, Avenue Q) and sound design by Brian Retterer (Next to Normal, Oliver!). Choreography is by Megan Wean (A Chorus Line National Tour). Kay Carver is the production stage manager and Preston D. McCarthy is the assistant stage manager.
Photo by Scott J. Kimmins