THE MICHAEL FRIEDMAN COLLECTION is Now Available Digitally
Ghostlight Records and The Civilians have announced that the first three premiere albums of The Michael Friedman Collection, will be available for streaming and download today, 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. For more information, and to stream or download the albums, please visit www.TheMichaelFriedmanCollection.com
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.
"The Michael Friedman recording project has truly been the work of a community," says Friedman's collaborator Steve Cosson. "As we all continue to feel the deep pain of his loss, there is solace in our being able to preserve and share his music with generations to come. In spending time with his work, I'm reminded with each song how much of Michael's singular self is present in his music. The fact that his voice is so clear and present even as he finds his way inside of so many different genres, subject matters, and characters is a testament to how fully open to the world he was. Michael could find a point of connection with anything and from that build a song, working as part-explorer, part-essayist and of course, composer. Because of that, listening to his work both takes us out into the world and offers a portal into Michael's astonishing mind and his enormous capacity for empathy. How he lived is built into every thought and note of these songs, and I'm so glad that these recordings will add to his previously published works, offering others a chance to know his music, and through that, know Michael."
"It's been a little over two years since my friend and colleague Michael's untimely death," says label founder Kurt Deutsch. "The Civilians, Michael's family and my label Ghostlight Records have all been working to preserve his legacy. It was my honor to work side by side in the studio with Michael to preserve Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Fortress of Solitude and others. Now his life's work will continue to live on and inspire generations of musical theatre lovers to come."
The Great Immensity, a thrilling and timely production originally presented in association with The Public Theater and Kansas City Rep, is a continent-hopping thriller following a woman, Phyllis, as she pursues her husband Karl who disappeared from a tropical island while on an assignment for a nature show. Through her search, Phyllis uncovers a mysterious plot surrounding the upcoming international climate summit in Paris. As the days count down to the summit, Phyllis must decipher the plan and possibly stop it in time. With a wide-ranging score, the show is a highly theatrical look into one of the most vital questions of our time: how can we change ourselves and our society in time to solve the enormous environmental challenges that confront us? It was praised for its "enlivening humor" by The New York Times, which added "Mr. Friedman's limber melodies are the perfect match for his often droll lyrics." The album features Cindy Cheung, John Ellison Conlee, Dan Domingues, Trey Lyford, Erin Wilhelmi, and an ensemble of Ally Bonino, Erica Dorfler, and Billy Hepfinger.
This Beautiful City, co-written with Jim Lewis from interviews by the original company (Emily Ackerman, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Brad Heberlee, Stephen Plunkett, and Alison Weller), 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.
The Abominables, which opened at Children's Theater Company in Minneapolis in 2017, is a hilarious and satirical musical about the wildly high-stakes world of suburban youth hockey. Mitch has always played on the A team for the Prairie Lake Blizzards. They've played together forever, but he's worried this could be the year he gets sent down to the B team. When a new kid, Harry, who happens to be a Yeti, appears at Bantam tryouts, Mitch's world-along with his family-gets turned upside down, leading Mitch to undertake a series of progressively dastardly attempts to regain his place in the world. The album features John Behlmann, Audrey Bennett, Gerard Canonico, Daniel Jenkins, Mia Jenness, Alyse Alan Louis, Zell Murrow, Maria-Christina Oliveras, Brian Charles Rooney, and Johnny Shea, and an ensemble of Randy Blair, Jiho Kang, Sabina Petra, Sarah Beth Pfeifer, Curtis Reynolds, Sharone Sayegh, and Stephen Schapero.
All three albums are produced by Steve Cosson and Kurt Deutsch. The Great Immensity is co-produced by Ian Kagey, Wiley Deweese, Andrea Grody, Amy C. Ashton, and Greg Brunswick. Andrea Grody serves as Music Director. The Abominables is co-produced by Ian Kagey, Wiley Deweese, Amy C. Ashton, and Greg Brunswick. Wiley Deweese serves as Music Director. This Beautiful City is co-produced by Ian Kagey, Wiley Deweese, Dan Lipton, Amy C. Ashton, and Greg Brunswick. Dan Lipton serves as Music Director. Cover illustrations are by Josh Neufeld (joshcomix.com).
Photo Courtesty of The Civilians
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