THE WEAVER OF RAVELOE To Be Featured In NYMF, 7/11, 7/14
When aspiring composer and playwright Erica Glenn was living in NYC the summer before her final year of graduate school and working with Broadway legend Charles Strouse (Annie, Bye-Bye Birdie), she started wondering about the apparent disconnect between what was playing on Broadway and what the average person on the street seemed to want to see.
"Just for fun, I started asking people both inside and outside the theater world to name their favorite musical," said Glenn. "About 80% of the time, the response was Les Mis. That didn't necessarily surprise me, but it did make me wonder why the market had shifted so dramatically in recent years. Why was Broadway so dominated by pop and rock-based musicals? What happened to the epic stories based on classic novels like The Scarlet Pimpernel, A Tale of Two Cities, and The Secret Garden?"
Almost everyone she spoke with expressed an interest in seeing "something like Les Mis" return to the stage. It seemed clear to Glenn that such a show would not only satisfy a need, but would be commercially viable as well.
This was good news for Glenn who was already hard at work on a project of her own--The Weaver of Raveloe, a musical retelling of George Eliot's beloved novel, Silas Marner."
"I fell in love with this literary gem the first time I read it as a teenager," said Glenn. "Primarily a multi-layered love story, Silas Marner is also a parable of industrialization, a morality tale, and a good, old-fashioned tale of suspense, loss, and redemption. It is a drama of epic proportions that somehow never loses its intimacy and humanity—a musical just waiting to be written."
So, write it she did. The Weaver of Raveloe is not Glenn's first musical. The twenty-six-year-old composer/playwright has already had six plays published and her shows have been produced all over the US, the UK, and even as far away as Hong Kong, Spain, Germany, Australia, and Ukraine. Glenn graduated (summa cum laude) from Arizona State University and recently received her M.M. in music composition from the Longy School of Music in Boston where she studied on the Nadia and Lila Boulanger Scholarship.
The Weaver of Raveloe has been a work in progress for many years. Glenn finally had a finished script and score in 2011. It was workshopped intensively at Brigham Young University during the fall of that year and was given a partial performance early in 2012 by the Salty Cricket Composer's Collective in Salt Lake City. And then this spring, Glenn learned that Weaver had been selected for a developmental reading slot at the prestigious New York Musical Theater Festival (NYMF).
"This is a tremendous honor," said Glenn. "NYMF is a big deal; it's the musical theater world's equivalent of the Sundance Film Festival."
Audiences will have a chance to see a reading of the promising new musical at the 45th Street Theater (354 W 45th street, NYC) on Wednesday, July 11 at 3:00 PM and again at 7:00 PM and on Saturday, July 14 at 12:00 PM.
"We have an incredibly talented cast and creative team," said Glenn. "Our performers came to us from the worlds of opera, music theatre, straight theatre, and choral singing, and their combined strengths have created something unique and truly beautiful."
Chelsea Ashton, a cast member, is thrilled to be part of the whole experience. "Erica's music touches the most tender parts of my soul," she said. "I cannot hear some of these songs without tearing up. The story is a classic story of redemption and change, the darkness being lit up by light."
"This show has elements of suspense, action, drama, comedy, and romance all wrapped up into a moving and meaningful tale," said Sarah Houghton, music director. "I love the music; each song conveys the moment with precision. Musical layers overlap as the story progresses, adding variety and multiple meanings."
The musical also received high praise from Charles Strouse, for whom Erica worked last summer. "The music is full of drama and rich in harmonic and melodic substance," said Strouse.
Rick Mortensen whose Salty Cricket Composers Collective produced a scene from Weaver this spring is even more effusive. "The music is just gorgeous," he said. "I guarantee that the audience will weep. Think Les Mis . . . only better!"
While that may be a bit of an overstatement, The Weaver of Raveloe does have the potential of being a huge hit for an audience that is hungering for something meatier and more powerful and life-transforming than many of the lighter weight musicals currently playing on Broadway.
For more information on The Weaver of Raveloe, visit www.weaverofraveloe.com or http://www.nymf.org/module-ShowManager-display-sid-1902.html. You can also make a tax deductible donation to help cover production costs, by clicking on the "donate" button at www.weaverofraveloe.com.