Georgetown Meets Go-Go in New Musical 'WIND ME UP, MARIA!'
Georgetown meets DC's own percussion-driven go-go music, an offshoot of funk, in a booty-shaking new musical created by "singular playwright-director" (Boston Globe) Professor Natsu Onoda Power, a faculty member of Georgetown University's Theater & Performance Studies Program and artistic director of the Davis Performing Arts Center, and Charles "Shorty Corleone" Garris, music producer/educator, and lead singer of DC Go-Go band Rare Essence.
"Wind Me Up, Maria! A Go-Go Musical" runs November 3-12, 2016 in the Davis Performing Arts Center's Gonda Theatre, located on Georgetown University's main campus. Presented by the Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program with student groups Mask & Bauble Dramatic Society and Black Theatre Ensemble, the production is part of the Davis Center's 2016-17 season, Discover and Celebrate.
Power, who has been praised by the Washington Post for her "breathtakingly imaginative, eye-delighting" work and by the Boston Globe for "a whirling theatrical language all her own, one that is playful, idiosyncratic . . . bursting with energy, heart, and ideas," directs the show. The story follows Maria, a DC native and a rising senior at Georgetown, who has a dilemma; it is the summer and she has not landed a job or an internship, but all she wants to do is to write and perform Go-Go music. When she finally finds employment as a live-in tutor for six children in a wealthy Georgetown household, she begins teaching the kids about Go-Go. In an uncanny riff on nanny storylines of musicals such as "The Sound of Music" or "Mary Poppins," the show features a cast of Georgetown students with guest appearance by the Capital Kidds, an educational children's go-go group run by Garris as part of the Innovative School of Performing Arts he founded, which has previously partnered with District of Columbia Public Schools and Department of Parks and Recreation. A blended ensemble of professional go-go musicians and Georgetown students performs live every night as The Graveyard Band (a simultaneous nod to the Davis Center's location overlooking a Jesuit cemetery and to well-known go-go groups such as the Junkyard Band and the Backyard Band); the band changes its name to The Groove Yard Band during the course of the show, a symbolic gesture indicating how go-go will never be in its grave, but will keep on grooving! Maria and the children perform original go-go songs in scenes ranging from a tutoring session for standardized test prep ("SAT song") to discovery and exploration of D.C. ("In the District").
Go-Go-so named by Godfather of the genre Chuck Brown because the music keeps going and going, without breaks-features a non-stop party groove fueled by congas, cowbells, timbales, and call and response interactions with the audience. Prof. Onoda Power and her husband, chef/owner Tom Power of DC restaurants Corduroy and Baby Wale, are long-time go-go fans; at their 2008 wedding, Chuck Brown performed at the reception. The DC legend, who passed away in 2012, also appears as a character in a dream sequence of the musical.
Onoda Power says of "Wind Me Up, Maria!": "This show is about Georgetown encountering go-go, and go-go encountering Georgetown, both in content and the process. What we are learning in this unlikely collaboration has been incredible. I hope people come in with open minds and in comfortable shoes, in case they want to get up on stage and dance!"
Garris says, "to be able to have the genre of go-go music integrated into a musical is great for the culture and the city. It's been brought up, is go-go dead, over? Will it survive? This project gives it a new platform, and shows that go-go is standing the test of time yet again."
Showtimes include the following:
Thursday-Saturday, November 3-5 at 8 p.m.
Sunday, November 6 at 2 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday, November 10-12 at 8 p.m.
The November 6 matinee will be followed by a Doyle Engaging Difference Program event, featuring live music, food from iconic DC landmark Ben's Chili Bowl (a location also featured in the show), and conversation with the band, cast members, and Georgetown faculty and staff.
Ticket prices for "Wind Me Up, Maria! A Go-Go Musical" are as follows:
Fri./Sat. evening: $18 general | $15 faculty, staff, alumni, senior | $10 student
All other performances: $15 general | $12 faculty, staff, alumni, senior | $7 student
To order tickets, visit performingarts.georgetown.edu or call 202-687-ARTS (2787) Monday through Friday, 3-6 p.m. Georgetown University's main campus is located at 3700 O St. NW, in Washington, D.C. Additionally, space-available GU student tickets for opening night on Nov. 12 are free (limit one), I.D. required at pickup.
Other productions in the Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program's Discover and Celebrate season include "The Phantom Tollbooth" by Susan Nanus, based on a book by Norton Juster, and directed by Mollie Rodgers (COL '17) (January 26-February 4); and "In the Next Room, or the vibrator play" (March 30-April 6), directed by Prof. Derek Goldman.
NATSU ONODA POWER is an Associate Professor in the Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program. Recent writing/directing credits include: "The T Party" (Forum Theatre; Company One Theatre, Boston), "A Trip to the Moon" (Synetic Theatre), "Astro Boy and the God of Comics" (Studio Theatre 2nd Stage; Company One, Boston). On Georgetown's campus, she has directed "War with the Newts" (adapted from Karel ?apek); "On the Origin of Species" (adapted from Charles Darwin); "The Omnivore's Dilemma" (adapted from Michael Pollan), "Madness and Civilization" (adapted from Michel Foucault); "Trees and Ghosts" (adapted from Osamu Tezuka); and "Swimmy and Other Stories" (adapted from Leo Lionni). Her set design has been seen locally at Imagination Stage, Synetic Theatre, the Hub Theatre, Forum Theatre. Onoda Power holds a Ph.D. in Performance Studies from Northwestern University, and is the author of "God of Comics: Osamu Tezuka and the Creation of Post-World War II Manga" (The University Press of Mississippi in 2009). She is the Artistic Director of the Davis Performing Arts Center, since spring 2016.
R&B, Soul and Go-Go artist CHARLES "SHORTY CORLEONE" GARRIS is widely recognized for his distinctive singing voice, flair for creative production, and wide range of performances and recordings. For more than 10 years he has served as the lead vocalist of Washington, D.C.'s Go-Go band, Rare Essence, engaging audiences with his unique sound and captivating style. Shorty is credited with formulating many hit songs for the group including "Body Snatchers," which hit # 50 on Billboard Magazine's Top 100 Chart. His single "Ain't No Way" also reached #1 on the Billboard indie R&B Charts. Influenced by a religious upbringing incorporating gospel sounds, mixed with the soulfulness of Motown and the unparalleled creativity of Go-Go music, Shorty often draws comparisons to his influences, Maurice White, Charlie Wilson, Teddy Pendergrass, Frankie Beverly, Wilson Pickett, Gerald Levert, and another D.C. native, Johnny Gill.
Innovative Recordings, a record label established by Shorty Corleone early in his career, released his debut single; "Somebody's with You" along with his solo album, "Heat," which included a hot rendition of Frankie Beverly's "While I'm Alone." Several other projects were released over the years.
In addition to the current production slate, Shorty is mentoring and producing the next wave of artists from Washington, D.C., Which includes The Capital Kidds, a group performing positive music compositions and community-based presentations in support of education, fitness and nutrition.
Housed in the Davis Performing Arts Center, the Georgetown University Theater & Performance Studies Program features a nationally recognized faculty of leading scholar/artists and professional practitioners who offer a dynamic interdisciplinary major that emphasizes the interaction of artistic and analytic inquiry. The Program has rapidly attracted significant national attention for its distinctive curriculum, which integrates the political and international character of Georgetown, a commitment to social justice, and high-quality, cutting-edge production seasons, including world premieres. In 2012, Backstage selected the Program as one of the top five college theater programs outside of New York City.
The Theater & Performance Studies Program provides unique focus on adapting, devising and developing new work, interdisciplinary research-to-performance projects, cross-cultural performance studies, and innovative approaches to design and multi-media, as well as playwriting, directing, dramaturgy, ensemble, and solo performance. The Program invests in a distinctive array of professional partnerships and collaborations, including with Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, with a growing focus on global performance and politics, as represented by international residencies (DAH Teatar, Ping Chong, Timberlake Wertenbaker) and by the establishment of the Laboratory of Global Performance and Politics, a collaborative initiative with the School of Foreign Service. Each year the Program hosts residencies with guest artists who collaborate deeply with students. Our major prepares students for lives as professional theater artists, scholars, activists and entrepreneurs, as well as for careers in the wider fields of education, cultural criticism, and public service.
Photo of Natsu Onoda Power and Charles "Shorty Corleone" Garris by Shannon Finney Photography.