« The "Swingle Sound" at The Oscars | Main | Harmony Sweepstakes season begins »

March 1, 2007

Avenue X, the a cappella musical, opens in New York

Broadway World

The sounds of doo-wop, rhythm and blues, soul, and gospel will ring out as Off-Broadway's Dreamlight Theatre Company presents the first NYC revival of Avenue X, an a capella musical by John Jiler and Ray Leslee. Directed by Chip Klose, Avenue X will play a limited engagement of 16 performances from March 1 through 17 at the 45th Street Theatre (354 West 45th Street).

Avenue X will star Cheryl Alexander (Dreamgirls), JD Goldblatt (Les Mis), Mitchell Jarvis (Fiddler On The Roof), Keifer Mansfield, Megan McGettigan, Jonathan Stewart, Jeffery V. Thompson (It Ain't Nothin' But The Blues) and Anthony Wills, Jr. Peter de Mets is music director for Avenue X and features choreography by Jonathan Howard. "Set in a racially divided Brooklyn neighborhood in 1963, Avenue X captures both the nostalgic harmonies of an innocent age and the rumblings of future discord. As in New York and other American cities in the late 1950s and early 1960s, teenagers gather on stoops and sidewalks to pass the time singing together -- the best groups win contests and dream of record deals. In Avenue X, the Italian-American and African-American groups wouldn't think of singing together -- until Pasquale (Jonathan Stewart) and Milton (JD Goldblatt) find that their shared love for the music transcends the escalating racial tension," according to notes.

Avenue X premiered at Playwrights Horizons in February 1994, winning the Richard Rodgers Award in 1992 and 1993, and has been produced to great acclaim around the country at theaters like Barrington Stage Company, The Wilma Theater, Dallas Theater Center, A Contemporary Theater in Seattle, Odyssey Theater Ensemble in L.A., and Pittsburgh City Theatre Company. John Jiler wrote the book and lyrics for Avenue X, his first musical, when he was covering Brooklyn's Bensonhurst racial violence for the Village Voice. The inspiration for the play came from his assignment; saddened by the futility of urban racial groups clashing again and again. Jiler's first full-length play Sour Springs wonthe Weissberger Prize from the New Dramatists and an Emerging Playwright's Grant from the Jerome Foundation. Ray Leslee, who wrote the music for Avenue X, composed and performed Standup Shakepeare directed by Mike Nichols, which was produced in New York and Washington, and The Common Pursuit, which won the Pulitzer Prize. He has composed original music for productions at Steppenwolf Theatre, Theatre for A New Audience and others.

Posted by acapnews at March 1, 2007 9:53 PM