BWW Interview: Exclusive Scoop on John Bucchino's Latest Musical- ESAURA
Broadway composer and lyricist John Bucchino and bookwriter Mads Nielsen's Danish-American romantic musical drama ESAURA, recently conluded a Fall 2013 run at Denmark's Fredericia Teater. The plot of the new musical is based on a free adaptation of the 1905 novel by Carl E. Simonsen "Abraham Fournais" and has parallels to the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet. The musical drama is set during the aftermath of the Battle of Fredericia and tells a fascinating story about human relationships. In short, it is a story with universal appeal played out in a Danish historical setting.
Bucchino recently took the time to chat with BroadwayWorld about how the show got its start, what's in store for it's future, and more. Check out the full interview below!
This show has already had quite a journey already overseas! Can you share a bit about how it came to be?
About four years ago, I got an email from a fellow named Soren Moller. He was coming to New York because he is very involved in international theatre organizations and teaching organizations and at the time he was the head of a musical theatre academy in the smallish town of Fredericia, Denmark- about 2 hours by train outside of Copenhagen. He also had a producing organization that was separate from his duties at the time at the academy and the town of Fredericia wanted to commission a piece that had something to do with the town's history, or had some kind of connection to it. He was referred to me by Stephen Schwartz, who has been my friend for 27 years. He wanted to meet when he came to New York to talk about commissioning me. So that's what happened!
He had a young Danish playwright in mind to write the book and he wanted me to do the music and lyrics. It's based on a Danish novel from 1913 that had never been translated into English- so I had never read the book. And it takes place in Fredericia.
Wow, it seems like it all fell right into place for you!
Yes, and in the beginning I had no concept of whether it was a good story. It was a job. The remarkable thing is that over the last four years we've really developed it. We had a British dramaturg and a Danish dramaturg helping us to develop the story and make it more specific and universal than what the book was. Soren since has given up his post as the head of the academy and is now the Artistic Director of the two theatres in town. One is an 800-seat theatre- it's the theatre that Disney just granted permission to do the European premiere of Aladdin. It's a remarkable place.
And they assembled the rest of the creative team as well?
Both the town government and the national government actually supports the arts there. The team includedSusan H. Schulman, director (Drama Desk winning, Tony nom. Director; Sweeney Todd, Secret Garden, Little Women B'Way and more), Bruce Coughlin, Orchestrator (TONY winning orchestrator, The Light In The Piazza etc). Joel Fram is musical supervisor on Esaura. Every aspect of this production was top-notch.
What can you share about the plot, without giving anything away?
Well, the amazing thing that happened over the course of developing this piece was that I fell utterly in love with the story. I discovered that in fact it is an enormously emotionally powerful and completely universal love story against the backdrop of war that anyone can relate to. It's a little bit Romeo and Juliet and maybe a little bit Fiddler on the Roof but with a big twist. It's the most extraordinary project that I've ever been involved with. I'm over the moon about it!
What's up next for the show? Will we get to see it in the US?
We have a complete, high-def DVD, which you can actually watch a trailer for (BELOW), but we want to use that to see how we can move it forward. And we're also working on a 12-song demo. We already recorded one in Denmark with the original cast- that's even for sale there, but not in this country. We're using those same orchestral tracks and are, in some cases, using American singers where the Danish actors were heavily accented. Some of them had accents and some didn't. The ones that didn't, we had them record it in English. Most of the main characters are American actors that we've added in- we got Victoria Clark, Marc Kudisch, Sierra Boggess, and Lindsay Mendez.
That's an amazing cast!
I know! I didn't know Marc or Sierra personally before, but Vicki and Lindsay are friends. Just to be in the studio and hear their voices and AMAZING acting that they brought to the material, I thought my heart would explode.
What has made this project special for you?
I think it's extraordinary and romantic, and by the end, people are little sobbing puddles, which I always love. It's emotional stuff. I write hoping to touch people, and rarely have I seen a show touch people like this one does.
John Bucchino's songs have been performed and recorded by renowned pop (Art Garfunkel, Judy Collins), theatre (Liza Minnelli, Patti LuPone, Kristin Chenoweth, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Audra McDonald), cabaret (Barbara Cook, Michael Feinstein), and classical (Yo-Yo Ma, Deborah Voight, Nathan Gunn), artists as well as The Boston Pops, the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in venues including Carnegie Hall, The Metropolitan Opera, The Hollywood Bowl, The Sydney Opera House, London's O2 Arena and The White House.
Among his honors are two Drama Desk nominations, The Johnny Mercer Songwriter Award, The ASCAP Foundation Richard Rodgers New Horizons Award, The Jonathan Larson Award, The Kleban Award, The Los Angeles Ovation Award (for the revue IT'S ONLY LIFE), The DVD Premiere Award (for the song "Better Than I"), and the first annual Fred Ebb Award.
For more information, please visit www.johnbucchino.com