BWW Exclusive: Listen to Track from Michael Friedman's THIS BEAUTIFUL CITY Album
Ghostlight Records and The Civilians will release the first three premiere albums of The Michael Friedman Collection- available for streaming and download on Friday, October 18. The Great Immensity, The Abominables, and This Beautiful City are all written (or co-written) and directed by Steve Cosson and feature music and lyrics by Michael Friedman. This extraordinary long-term project will eventually comprise the premiere recordings of nine musicals from the beloved late Obie Award-winning songwriter Michael Friedman. The albums will be available at www.ghostlightrecords.com/michaelfriedman.html.
In a New Yorker essay following Michael Friedman's untimely death at 41, Sarah Larson described him as "a brilliant and prolific composer and lyricist, a pianist, a thinker, a mile-a-minute talker, a gesticulator, a person who dazzled and could leave you dizzied-not just by his talent and intelligence but by his kindness and humanity, which were always at the forefront of his work." Ghostlight previously recorded Friedman's Broadway score to Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Fortress of Solitude and Love's Labour's Lost at The Public Theater, as well as Pretty Filthy and Gone Missing with The Civilians.
Below, we are excited to bring you an exclusive first listen of "Urban Planning" from This Beautiful City. Check out the full track below!
This Beautiful City, co-written with Jim Lewis from interviews by the original company (Emily Ackerman, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Brad Heberlee and Stephen Plunkett), is a play with music that explores the Evangelical movement in Colorado Springs, its unofficial U.S. capital. While the company was conducting interviews in the city, a battle over gay marriage led to some unexpected outcomes, primarily the revelation about New Life Church's politically influential pastor Ted Haggard's secret life of gay sex and crystal meth, which quickly became an international news sensation. The Civilians project looks at this event and others in Colorado Springs as a microcosm of issues facing the country as a whole - the shifting line between church and state, and conflicting ideas of freedom between civil society and religious groups that attempt to shape our world according to their beliefs. The New Yorker praised the show as "Vivid, agenda-free and marked by a benevolent irony." The album features Emily Ackerman, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Brad Heberlee, Stephen Plunkett, Conor Ryan, and Alison Weller and an ensemble of Ally Bonino, Ben Moss, Sabina Petra, and Stephen Schapero.
Michael Friedman was a composer and lyricist of enormous versatility and deep intellectual curiosity. He was most well-known as the co-creator of the critically-acclaimed musical Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, which premiered in New York at The Public Theater and subsequently transferred to Broadway. Other credits include the musical: Fortress of Solitude, based on the book of the same name by Jonathan Lethem, and performed at The Public Theater; Unknown Soldier, which premiered at The Williamstown Theatre Festival; and Love's Labour's Lost, which premiered at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park. Michael was a founding Associate Artist of the celebrated theater company, The Civilians. His work with The Civilians included Gone Missing, In the Footprint, The Great Immensity, Paris Commune, (I Am) Nobody's Lunch, The Abominables and This Beautiful City, as well as the score for Anne Washburn's critically-acclaimed Mr. Burns.
His work has filled the stages of most major Off Broadway and regional theaters, establishing a body of work in two decades that is distinguished not only by its artistry, wit and inventiveness, but by its keen insights into the American experience. Often working with verbatim interviews as source material, Michael showed an uncanny ability to draw out expansive ideas from the distillation of a single human voice. He drew on that skill while traveling the country in the lead up to the 2016 election, creating The State of the Union Songbook a series of songs based on interviews for The New Yorker Radio Hour.
Other career highlights include a retrospective concert at Lincoln Center in the "American Songbook" series, and an Obie Award for sustained excellence in 2007, among many other honors. At the time of his death, he was the Artist in Residence and Director of the Public Forum at The Public Theater and was also the Artistic Director of New York City Center Encores! Off-Center.
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