Elizabeth Swados' THE BEAUTIFUL LADY to Have NYC Debut at La MaMa in May

Previews begin May 5 prior to a press opening on May 8.  This Off-Broadway production runs through May 28, 2023. 

By: Mar. 21, 2023
Elizabeth Swados' THE BEAUTIFUL LADY to Have NYC Debut at La MaMa in May
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THE BEAUTIFUL LADY - a new musical work by the Tony nominated composer Elizabeth Swados (RUNAWAYS in 1978), with text translated by Paul Schmidt - will have its NYC debut at La MaMa's Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4 St.) this spring. Presented by La MaMa, THE BEAUTIFUL LADY is directed by Anne Bogart, who makes her own long-anticipated debut at La MaMa. Previews begin May 5 prior to a press opening on May 8. This Off-Broadway production runs through May 28, 2023.

A timely look at the power of art and delicate nature of free speech, THE BEAUTIFUL LADY is set in the real-life Stray Dog café, a popular meeting place for Russian poets, writers and performers in St. Petersburg in 1911-15 prior to the start of World War I. There, all manner of experimental art and language were in full bloom, a vital part of the Russian Revolution that, as Ms. Bogart notes, those very artists could not have anticipated would destroy their lives, resulting in pogroms and repression.

Ms. Swados' score for THE BEAUTIFUL LADY captures the simultaneous thrills and horrors of that brief, fervent time, and underscores some of the most searing writing of that era, including poetry by Anna Akhmatova, Alexander Blok and Marina Tsvetaeva, translated in English by Mr. Schmidt. THE BEAUTIFUL LADY reflects the current open threats to free speech in Russia and other countries, including our own.

THE BEAUTIFUL LADY is a posthumous debut for both Swados (1951-2016) and Schmidt (1934-1999). A five-time Tony nominee for the musical RUNAWAYS in 1978 - Best Musical, Director, Choreographer, Composer, Book -- Liz Swados was an early, longtime associate of La MaMa founder Ellen Stewart, whose productions at the theater include FRAGMENTS OF A GREEK TRILOGY, THE GOOD WOMAN OF SETZUAN, AS YOU LIKE IT directed by Andre Serban, and Peter Brook's CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS. Her work outside La MaMa includes KASPAR HAUSER at Flea, THE RED SNEAKS, RAP MASTER RONNIE with Garry Trudeau and NIGHTCLUB CANTATA at Village Gate.

Mia Yoo states, "Throughout her career, Liz came back to La MaMa time and again to develop new work. Like Ellen Stewart, she spent her life influencing and empowering young minds through her work teaching. Both she and Anne Bogart are change-makers, revolutionary voices whose work has transformed how we think about theater. THE BEAUTIFUL LADY perfectly reflects the focus of La MaMa's 61st season - Remake a World."

Paul Schmidt was a renowned translator as well as a playwright and teacher. His translations include Euripides, Chekhov, Brecht, Genet, Gogol, Marivaux, Mayakovsky and the book of poems, "STRAY DOG CABARET: a book of Russian poems."

Anne Bogart is a co-founder and artistic director of Siti Company, which for 30 years developed experimental works by a wide range of artists at its facilities in Saratoga Springs, NY. With SITI, Bogart works include FALLING & LOVING, The Bacchae, Lost in the Stars, Trojan Women, Antigone and Charles Mee's ORESTES.

Casting TBA.

For performance and ticket information, visit www.lamama.org


On February 9, LA MAMA re-opened its landmarked original theatre, 74A E. 4 St., with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and public preview of the newly-renovated space, following a 3-year, $24 million makeover. La MaMa legend Andre De Shields was emcee. In January, the company launched a campaign to raise an additional $250,000 matching grant from Harvey Fierstein, who also began his career at the storied theater, under the tutelage of the late founder Ellen Stewart.

La MaMa is dedicated to the artist and all aspects of the theatre. La MaMa's 61st "Remake A World" Season believes in the power of art to bring sustainable change over time and transform our cultural narrative. At La MaMa, new work is created from a multiplicity of perspectives, experiences, and disciplines, influencing how we think about and experience art. The flexibility of our spaces, specifically the newly reimagined building at 74 East 4th Street (La MaMa's original permanent home), gives our local and remote communities access to expanded daytime programming. The digital tools embedded in the space allows artists to collaborate remotely, and audiences worldwide to participate in La MaMa's programming.

A recipient of the 2018 Regional Theater Tony Award, more than 30 Obie Awards and dozens of Drama Desk, Bessie, and Villager Awards, La MaMa has been a creative home for thousands of artists, and resident companies, many of whom have made lasting contributions to the arts, including Blue Man Group, Bette Midler, Ed Bullins, Ping Chong, Jackie Curtis, André De Shields, Adrienne Kennedy, Harvey Fierstein, Diane Lane, Playhouse of the Ridiculous, Tom Eyen, Pan Asian Rep, Spiderwoman Theater, Tadeusz Kantor, Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, Mabou Mines, Meredith Monk, Peter Brook, David and Amy Sedaris, Julie Taymor, Kazuo Ohno, Tom O'Horgan, and Andy Warhol. La MaMa's vision of nurturing new artists and new work from all nations, cultures, races and identities remains as strong today as it was when Ellen Stewart first opened the doors in 1961.

Photo credit: Theo Cote


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