A.C.T. Young Conservatory Presents BEAUTIFUL CHILD 5/14-29
The A.C.T. Young Conservatory proudly presents the world premiere of Beautiful Child: The Music of Rufus Wainwright, featuring a book written by Craig Slaight, direction by A.C.T. Associate Artist Domenique Lozano, musical direction by Jane Hammett, and choreography by Christine Mattison. The "disarmingly beautiful" (The New York Times) music of Rufus Wainwright takes center stage as A.C.T.'s Young Conservatory continues its exploration of modern composers in this theatrical tribute to the acclaimed singer-songwriter.
Shamed by his father's arrest during the Panic of 1893, young New York socialite Josiah Matliff flees to Chicago. As he traverses the American railways, he meets other teenage runaways from the fringes of society who are escaping their own pasts. Wainwright's haunting melodies and emotionally charged lyrics shape Beautiful Child into an original and unforgettable story of independence and awakening.
Presented in collaboration with Bird School of Music, Beautiful Child plays May 14-29, 2010, at Zeum Theater (Yerba Buena Gardens, Fourth and Howard streets, San Francisco, CA). Tickets are $15.50-$20.50 and are available by calling A.C.T. Ticket Services at 415.749.2228 or online at www.act-sf.org.
Rufus Wainwright, an artist who has risen quickly to iconic status, joins a wide-ranging list of musicians who have been the focus of Young Conservatory tributes, including Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Lennon and McCartney, Sting, Elton John, Jacques Brel, and Noël Coward. Book writer and Young Conservatory Director Craig Slaight says: "It was Laurie Ubben, my fabulous collaborator at Bird, who first got me excited about Wainwright's music. I recall more than one concert with Laurie where I turned to her and said, ‘His songs are so personal and just call out to be staged.' Wainwright's beautiful lyrics are rife with disappointment, failed love, and longing for a better place. These themes carry universal weight but have a particular relevance to the journey of growing up."
A talented group of young Bay Area actors makes up the cast and band for Beautiful Child. The cast features Mackenzie Adams (San Rafael High School), Danielle Bowen (Tamalpais High School), Olivia Brown (University High School), Christopher Garber (Crystal Springs Uplands School), Simone Hudson (The Urban School of San Francisco), Colin Ketcham (San Francisco School of the Arts), Adam Maggio (San Francisco School of the Arts), Del Montgomery (Piedmont High School), Jadyn Petterson-Rae (Drew), Haley Reicher (Piedmont High School), and Katie Yeilding (The Bay School of San Francisco). Jenna Johnson and Richardson Jones, both members of the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program class of 2011, complete the ensemble. The band is comprised of young musicians who train at Bird School of Music: Nicholas Perloff-Giles (University High School), Charlie Lazarus (Drew), Maranda Seney (Lowell High School), and Talia Storey-Cuddeback (Drew). Beautiful Child features the design talents of Craig Slaight (scenic designer), Ian Smith (lighting designer), and Jef Valentine (costume designer).
Affectionately referred to by Elton John as "the greatest songwriter on the planet" and praised by the New York Times for his "genuine originality," Rufus Wainwright has established himself as one of the great male vocalists and songwriters of his generation. Wainwright's much-acclaimed first opera, Prima Donna, premiered at the Manchester International Festival in July 2009. The opera makes its London debut at Sadler's Wells Theatre in April 2010; its North American debut will follow at Toronto's Luminato festival in June 2010. Sonette, Wainwright's musical adaptation of Shakespeare's sonnets with noted avant-garde director Robert Wilson and the Berliner Ensemble, premiered in April 2009 and continues to play to sold-out houses. Wainwright has released eight albums and two DVDs to date, has appeared on numerous soundtracks and compilations, and has collaborated with such diverse artists as Elton John, David Byrne, Rosanne Cash, and Keane. His newest album, All Days Are Nights: Songs for Lulu, was just released, following Milwaukee at Last!!!, a live recording from his Release the Stars tour. Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall, which captured his celebrated Judy Garland tribute performance at the London Palladium in 2007, was nominated for a Grammy Award and released together with a live DVD (Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does Judy! Judy! Judy!). Another earlier album, Release the Stars, went gold in both Canada and the United Kingdom. Wainwright received Juno Awards for Best Alternative Album in 1999 and 2002 for Rufus Wainwright and Poses, respectively, and received Juno Award nominations for his albums Want Two (2005) and Release the Stars (2008), which earned him a nomination for Songwriter of the Year. He also composed original music for choreographer Stephen Petronio's BLOOM, which has toured across the United States. In addition to his musical pursuits, Wainwright has made his mark on-screen, acting in Academy Award-winning director Deny Arcand's film L'âge des ténèbres (2007), the Merchant Ivory film Heights (2005), and the blockbuster The Aviator (2004), directed by Martin Scorsese. At age 14, he composed and sang a song in the film Tommy Tricker and the Stamp Traveller, which earned him nominations for the 1989 Genie Award (Canada) for Best Original Song and for the 1990 Juno Award for Most Promising Male Vocalist of the Year.
Craig Slaight is an associate artist and the director of the Young Conservatory at American Conservatory Theater. Slaight assumed the leadership of the Young Conservatory in 1988. During his time at A.C.T., he has taught in all of the conservatory programs and served as a resident director on A.C.T. mainstage productions and as a member of the artistic team of the company. Slaight began the Young Conservatory's New Plays Program in 1989 with the mission to develop plays by outstanding professional playwrights that view the world through the eyes of the young. To date 37 new plays by leading American and British playwrights have been developed and produced. With A.C.T.'s Jack Sharrar, Slaight has edited numerous anthologies of scenes and monologues for actors and is the editor of five volumes of New Plays from A.C.T.'s Young Conservatory. Before coming to A.C.T., Slaight was an award-winning professional director in Los Angeles. He has also directed in England at the National Theatre and Theatre Royal Bath.
Domenique Lozano directed the last two years' productions of A Christmas Carol at A.C.T. Other directing credits include The Countess with Center REPertory Company; Two for the Seesaw with Marin Theatre Company; Inspecting Carol and the West Coast premiere of Jane Martin's Anton in Show Business with San Jose Stage Company; and The Norman Conquests, Holiday, The Real Thing, and She Loves Me with Napa Valley Repertory Theatre, of which she was a founding member and associate artistic director. An associate artist at A.C.T., Lozano teaches in numerous programs and has directed many projects with the Young Conservatory and M.F.A. Program. Her Young Conservatory projects include the American premiere of After Juliet; the world premieres of Sarah Daniel's Dust and Constance Congdon's Nightingales; a coproduction with the Hochschule für Musik und Theater in Zürich of Paul Steinmann's Only Victory; and the West Coast premieres of Jeffrey Hatcher's Korczak's Children and Wendy MacLeod's School Girl Figure. Her directing work with the M.F.A. Program includes Caught with Her Pants Down, Richard III, and numerous graduating class showcases, as well as the M.F.A. Program/Young Conservatory coproduction of Amy Herzog's The Wendy Play. Acting credits include work with such theaters as California Shakespeare Theater, where she is an artistic associate, A.C.T., Berkeley Repertory Theatre, San Jose Repertory Theatre, San Jose Stage Company, and the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Lozano has also taught throughout the Bay Area at such institutions as Saint Mary's College, UC Davis, California Shakespeare Theater, and Berkeley Repertory Theatre.
The A.C.T. Young Conservatory offers a broad range of theater training for young people aged 8 to 19. The ten sessions and four public productions offered throughout the year are designed to develop talent and creativity, as well as communication and cooperation skills, for young people with all levels of theater background. Working professional actors and directors lead students in a spectrum of classes, including acting, directing, voice and speech, musical theater, audition, and improvisation. Call 415.439.2444 or visit act-sf.org/conservatory for applications and information.
A.C.T.'s stage at Zeum Theater is dedicated to the development of new works, new forms, and new artists. A.C.T.@Zeum was launched in October 2001 with the A.C.T. Master of Fine Arts Program's world-premiere staging of Marc Blitzstein's No for an Answer, directed by A.C.T. Artistic Director Carey Perloff. Zeum Theater is the current home of the Young Conservatory New Plays Program and gives A.C.T. an additional stage for readings, workshops, rehearsals, and other aspects of new play and production development.
Beautiful Child is made possible by a generous grant from The Bernard Osher Foundation. Additional support is provided by the Crescent Porter Hale Foundation; The Craig Slaight Young Conservatory New Plays Fund, an endowed fund of The Next Generation Campaign; and donors to A.C.T.'s season gala, the Crystal Ball.