Skylight Music Theatre to Premiere Daron Hagen's I HEAR AMERICA SINGING, 5/9-6/1

Skylight Music Theatre is premiering a new work by Milwaukee native Daron Hagen titled I Hear America Singing. The production runs May 9 through June 1 in the Studio Theatre at the Broadway Theatre Center (158 N. Broadway, Milwaukee WI).

I Hear America Singing was written by Daron Hagen expressly for Skylight. The new Broadway musical blends show tunes, arias, and art songs by Hagen as well as his musical re-interpretations of American folk tunes. The folk tunes, which date from the Civil War era to WWI have been given new lyrics written by Hagen that help to forward the show's story. Some of the songs also contain lyrics from the poems of William Blake, A. E. Houseman, Gertrude Stein and traditional ballads.

The show's story concerns three old Julliard school chums - a composer named Robbie, a singer named Roger, and Roger's ex-wife, a singer named Rose. They reunite at Robbie's request to perform for financial backers a revised version of I Hear America Singing, a musical that, two decades earlier, established Robbie's career on Broadway. Roger's alcoholism has stalled his career and ended his marriage; now he's living with his ailing mother in Milwaukee. Based in Chicago, Rose has been performing on the road for years. She's thinking about changing her life. Robbie lives in Manhattan on the Upper West Side (where the show takes place). Robbie, who is "between hits," views this show as his comeback. Rehearsing, the three reminisce, debate the past, and experience epiphanies that the composer describes as "revolutions of the heart". "This revolution," Robbie tells them, "consists of reconnecting with your earlier selves, embracing personal reinvention, and rekindling old love." The show's score does the same thing by taking old songs and making them new, and providing new songs that revisit old tropes.

Daron Hagen is one of America's most successful opera composers. He has composed nine operas for Seattle, Sarasota, the Madison, and Irish National Opera companies as well as the Nevada Opera Theatre and Princeton Atelier. Along with fulfilling commissions from the Milwaukee Symphony, New York Philharmonic, Philadelphia Orchestra, and numerous other major ensembles and soloists internationally, he has directed on Broadway and collaborated with musical greats such as Leonard Bernstein, Gian Carlo Menotti, Leonard Slatkin, and Stephen Wadsworth. A native of New Berlin (WI), Mr. Hagen is a University of Wisconsin, Curtis Institute of Music and Julliard School graduate.

"I have known Daron for five years now and I'm very proud to count him as a friend. In Houston, I conducted his opera Vera of Las Vegas, and in France this past summer, I conducted his orchestral work Heliotrope. Daron's music is emotionally driven and well crafted, but in my mind, his true gift is his understanding of the theater. I am very excited to bring in a hometown talent such as Daron to showcase his amazing skill."

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