VIDEO: Asolo Repertory to Present New Ahrens & Flaherty Musical KNOXVILLE
Asolo Repertory Theatre will proudly present the world premiere of KNOXVILLE in spring 2020. This moving and innovative musical will feature lyrics by Lynn Ahrens, music by Stephen Flaherty and will be adapted and directed by Frank Galati, reuniting the dynamic Tony Award-winning creative team behind Ragtime, one of the most beloved musicals of all time. KNOXVILLE is based on James Agee's Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiographical novel A Death in the Family and based, in part, on the play All The Way Home by Tad Mosel.
Check out video and performances from today's launch event below!
Asolo Rep will host a workshop in June 2019 prior to KNOXVILLE's world premiere in the spring of 2020. Casting and production dates will be announced at a later date. The musical was announced on February 6 at a media and donor event featuring behind-the-scenes insight from the creative team and a sneak peek performance featuring Claybourne Elder (Broadway: Torch Song, Sunday in the Park with George, and Bonnie and Clyde), who is set to perform in the workshop.
Knoxville, Tennessee. 1915. Jay Follett stands with his son Rufus on a hill, watching the trains travel through the quiet night below and teaching him about life. So begins KNOXVILLE, a world premiere musical adaptation of James Agee's Pulitzer Prize-winning autobiographical masterpiece, A Death in the Family. When an unexpected turn of events leaves Rufus' family spinning, he and his mother Mary embark on a journey through the mysteries of life and death, faith and doubt, in order to come to terms with what they have lost and what they have found. An enduring illumination of the forces that shape us into who we are, KNOXVILLE is a quintessentially American coming-of-age story about family, faith and love, and the boy who will grow up to write it.
Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty have garnered Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards for their unforgettable music and lyrics, and their work has been nominated for two Academy Awards® and Golden Globes®, and four Grammy Awards®. The dynamic musical team behind Ragtime, which has been translated and produced around the world, Anastasia (Broadway production and feature film), Once On This Island, which received the 2018 Tony Award for Best Revival, Seussical, and more, were inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2015. Their musical, Marie, will have its west coast premiere at Seattle's 5th Avenue Theatre this April.
Frank Galati is an Associate Artist at Asolo Rep, where he has directed Rhinoceros, The Little Foxes, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, 1776, Twelve Angry Men and more. He received two Tony Awards for his direction and adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath and was nominated for a Tony for helming the original Broadway production of Ragtime. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his screenplay, with Lawrence Kasdan, of The Accidental Tourist. He is a member of the Steppenwolf Theatre Company in Chicago.
"KNOXVILLE is a love story, inspired by James Agee's perfectly crafted prose, animated by Lynn Ahren's vivid poetry and borne aloft by Stephen Flaherty's gorgeous new music," said Adapter/Director Frank Galati. "Like James Joyce, James Agee created 'a portrait of the artist as a young man' in his novel. But in this story the artist is an American and his story goes to the core of the American soul, that's where faith abides as well as doubt."
"It is an honor to be a part of the creation of this tremendous new musical with this extraordinary, award-winning team, who are some of the brightest stars of the American theatre," said Asolo Rep Producing Artistic Director Michael Donald Edwards. "The brilliant Lynn Ahrens, Stephen Flaherty and Frank Galati have an inspiring, poignant vision for this iconic American story, and we are thrilled to have their masterpiece brought to life on stage at Asolo Rep."
In addition to being a novelist, James Agee was a poet, screenwriter and film critic. At the age of 28, he penned the sweeping prose-poem Knoxville: The Summer of 1915, in just 90 minutes. The poem would become the prologue for A Death in the Family. His screenplays include The Night of the Hunter and The African Queen, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. He also collaborated with photographer Walker Evans on the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. He wrote the screenplay for the 1963 film adaptation of his novel A Death in the Family, entitled All the Way Home, starring Jean Simmons and Robert Preston.
The world premiere of KNOXVILLE is made possible by a generous grant from The Roy Cockrum Foundation. The mission of The Roy Cockrum Foundation is to award grants to support world-class performing arts projects in not-for-profit professional theaters throughout the United States of America. The Roy Cockrum Foundation enables theaters to reach beyond their normal scope of activities and undertake ambitious productions.