Amas Musical Theatre Presents New Musical DISTANT THUNDER in December
Amas Musical Theatre, in celebration of its 50th season, will present Distant Thunder with book by Lynne Taylor-Corbett and Shaun Taylor-Corbett, music and lyrics by Chris Wiseman and Shaun Taylor-Corbett, with additional music and lyrics by Robert Lindsey-Nassif and Michael Moricz, the fourth and final new musical in development included in this year's "Dare to Be Different" series. Performances are Thursday, December 6 at 3pm & 7pm and Friday, December 7 at 3pm at A.R.T./New York Theatres (502 West 53rd Street - 10th Avenue & 53rd Street).
In Distant Thunder, Darrell Waters, a brash young attorney, returns to his childhood home in Montana to broker a deal between a large energy company and the impoverished Blackfeet Nation. In the process, he is forced to confront his reclusive father about their painful past. Through a childhood sweetheart, Dorothy Dark Eyes, he rediscovers his identity and feels his perspective shift: his clever business deal will destroy her language school, further erode Blackfeet culture and taint their land. Darrell must grapple with the paradigm of being Native American in America.
Directed by Lynne Taylor-Corbett, Distant Thunder features cast members who are descendants of Seminole, Choctaw, Blackfeet, Cherokee, Prairie Indian, Tigua, Wasco, Warm Springs and Shawnee tribes. Among them are Kelli Barrett (Dr. Zhivago, Wicked), Shaun Taylor-Corbett (In the Heights, Jersey Boys), April Ortiz (In the Heights), MTV award-winning singer-songwriter Spencer Battiest, Ryan Duncan (Gettin' the Band Back Together, Shrek), Román Zaragoza (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), Shayna Jackson (whose debut album is soon to be released), and Xander Chauncey (Co-creator of "The Molok"). Also featured are Tony Award nominee and Drama Desk winner, Martin Vidnovic (Brigadoon, Baby), Christine LaDuca (Rothschild & Sons), Frank Zagottis (Eric Bogosian's Wake Up and Smell the Coffee), and Chelsea Zeno (1st National of Priscilla Queen of the Desert). Completing the cast are actor, Sitwailapum Brent Florendo, (Oregon Shakespeare Festival) and his daughter, Chava Florendo, both accomplished powwow singers, and boy Fancy Dancer, Kodiak Tarrant of the Shinnecock Nation. Geraldine Keams, renowned Navajo storyteller plays Grandma Jingle Dress. Beth Falcone (Wanda's World) is Music Director. The Production Stage Manager is Susan Whelan.
"We are so excited to continue the development of this unique and original show," says artistic producer, Donna Trinkoff. "This is a story of a world and a culture most people don't have any experience of; and sad to say, many of its inhabitants are living in the equivalent of a third world country right here on American soil. And it's a universal story in a setting that has never before been explored in a musical. It has so much to recommend itself and there are so many forces at work that we believe the time has come for this important musical. We are especially thrilled to have the support of Lou Diamond Phillips who states, 'this story could help people understand why the preservation of Native culture is essential to our future as a whole country'."
Distant Thunder was first developed at a writer's retreat at Native Voices in Los Angeles, received its first of two Labs at Amas Musical Theatre, and, subsequently, a development and public presentation at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Along the way, there was guidance from Kent Nicholson at Playwrights Horizons and Michael Baron at the Lyric Theatre in Oklahoma, historically the end of the "Trail of Tears." The writers wish to thank elders Darrell Robes Kipp, Robert Greygrass and Joseph Fire Crow for their guidance and inspiration on the long road, and especially Donna Trinkoff for her unflagging belief in the project.
"For 50 years, Amas has been a pioneer in multi-ethnic casting and has been devoted to the creation, development and professional production of new American musicals through the celebration of diversity and minority perspectives, and the emergence of new artistic talent, says Ms. Trinkoff. "We want to continue to present this series featuring new musicals and special one-night events that explore the stories of people who dare to be different and to give our audiences the chance to get in at the ground floor in the development process of our talented artists in an intimate and up-close and personal setting."
Tickets for Distant Thunder are FREE, but reservations are required and may be made by visiting www.amasmusical.org or by calling (212) 563-2565. Seating is limited.
For information about upcoming events part of the Amas 50th Anniversary Celebration, please visit www.amasmusical.org.