FANNIE LOU Sells Out Premiere Matinee, 10/6
There are no big-name stars. No large-scale production number. And there's only a shoestring budget. But with a sold-out first show more than a month before opening, the historically based Off-Broadway musical Fannie Lou is shaping up to become one of the hottest tickets in town.
"I think it's the personal struggle, and triumph over adversity, told in the musical that appeals to audiences," said composer-lyricist Felicia Hunter. Not to mention the songs. The music has been consistently lauded by audiences who've seen portions of the new, original musical in two previous staged readings. Excerpts can be heard-and downloaded for free-on the Fannie Lou website.
Fannie Lou will have its world premiere Saturday, Oct. 6. The work was inspired by the life of voting rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. Poor and lacking formal education, Hamer grew up in rural Mississippi. In 1962, at the age of 44, she decided to assert her right to vote. She was prevented from registering, along with a group of several other African Americans. The experience made Hamer even more determined to gain the voting rights guaranteed to her as a U.S. citizen. Thus began Hamer's public life as a grassroots activist for voting, civil and human rights.
"She touched people's hearts with her direct, plainspoken delivery and her steadfast determination to not only survive, but thrive in an environment that didn't give her much of a head start," said Hunter, who also wrote the book for Fannie Lou. "Her story of insisting to move forward despite hardship is one that many people can relate to." The musical, which is packed with powerful, memorable songs and riveting dialogue, focuses on an array of characters to relay the voting rights struggle and Hamer's historical significance.
Though the musical is set in the rural South 50 years ago, it has quite a modern, universal feel to it, said Hunter.
"The themes are very applicable today," said Hunter, who wanted the work to be both entertaining and socially relevant. "I think that although we've made a lot of social progress over the past few decades, in some ways we've reverted as well. I think Mrs. Hamer and others who worked so hard for basic human rights would be quite surprised to see some of what's transpired over time.
"The basic message [of the musical] is, don't forget about all the hard work that's already been done. And move forward, not backward. Too many people fought and struggled and lost their lives to make it better for future generations – for us – to do otherwise."
The Oct. 6 Off-Broadway world premiere of Fannie Lou will take place Oct. 6 at Lang Recital Hall theater at Hunter College. There will be two shows, a matinee and an evening performance. While the matinee is sold out, there are still tickets available for the evening show. For more information, visit the Fannie Lou website at www.fannieloumusical.com.