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Podcast: Vol. 305 February 19, 2009 – Jesus Christ Superstar Gospel, Louis St. Louis & more!

Grab a good seat, because we have some great stuff for you this week! This episode we talk with Louis St. Louis about his reworking of JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR into a gospel piece, and we hear two NEVER-BEFORE-HEARD songs from his original demo! We also hear from Frank Blocker about SOUTHERN GOTHIC NOVEL, Bobby Funaro (Sopranos) in FRESH KILLS and Director Katherine Krause on The Bull's new take on FOOL FOR LOVE. So sit back, catch the scenery, and enjoy the ride!

On the Boards

southerngothic.jpgSouthern Gothic Novel

Frank Blocker is the creator, writer and performer in this one-man, many character piece set in Aberdeen, Mississippi. He stops by the studio to tell us about the evolution of the piece from a novel to stage work, and he performs a segment from the show.

SOUTHERN GOTHIC NOVEL is playing every Wednesday at 8pm through March 25th. Find more information at

The Callboard

ACT’s Annual Young Playwrights Festival Returns 3/19- 3/21

ACT’s annual Young Playwrights Festival (YPF) returns March 19 through 21 for a seventh year, and features a stunning mix of dramatic and comedic new works from extraordinarily talented student writers ages 14 to 18.

youngplaywrights.jpgTaking place in the Allen Theatre, ACT will present staged readings of eight new plays developed through ACT’s Young Playwrights Program (YPP). This program serves upwards of 350 middle and high school students from King, Kitsap, and Pierce counties throughout 16 greater Seattle-area schools. And for the first time, ACT’s YPF will include students attending the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center’s afterschool YPP program. Plays were selected by an artistic panel, within ACT, from a pool of approximately 300 submitted works. To prepare for the staged readings, each student playwright is partnered with a professional director, dramaturge, and actors. They participate in nearly 20 hours of rehearsal with his or her creative team. Each program is performed twice during the three-day festival. Click HERE for more information.

CHITTY CHITTY BANG BANG To Hold Local Children’s Audtion 2/26

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, one of the most fantasmagorical Broadway musical in the history of everything, is searching for six children in the Raleigh area to make their stage debut with Chittyat Memorial Auditorium when she arrives on March 31 for a 9-performance engagement through April 5!

Based on the timeless novel by famed James Bond author and creator, Ian Fleming, the production features the music and lyrics by the legendary Sherman brothers, composers of Mary Poppins. The national tour also features an original script and fresh adaptation directed by Ray Roderick. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang boasts a beloved score, including memorable classics such as “Truly Scrumptious,” “Toot Sweets,” “Hushabye Mountain” and the Oscar*-nominated title song, “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.” Click HERE for more information.

Up Close

Louis St. Louis

Jesus Christ Superstar Gospel

louisstlouis.jpgLouis St. Louis is the brainchild an arranger behind this brand-new reworking of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Tim Rice’s classic musical, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR. Currently playing in Atlanta, Louis is the first arranger ever allowed to re-work one of Webber’s musicals. More than just a revival, he completely reconceived and reworks the show into a contemporary gospel score.

As a special bonus, our listeners will get to hear two of the songs from Louis St. Louis’s demo, never before heard by the public!

Louis bio is extensive, and I’ll let his publicist’s information speak to his career:

LOUIS ST.LOUIS is a musical product of Detroit’s Pentecostal Church, where he began piano lessons at the age of seven, and by the age fourteen became the resident Music Director/ Choir Leader/ Soloist in his church. His first icon/mentor [through the radio] was the father of Contemporary Gospel Music, James Cleveland. He is the recipient of a GRAMMY AWARD, NACP Theatre Award, LA Drama Critics Award, and an Olivier Award Nomination, all for SMOKEY JOE’S CAFÉ. He produced the Movie Soundtrack for GREASE, wrote ‘SANDY’ for John Travolta – garnering him his first Grammy nomination as Producer of the Year. He also produced the Soundtrack for GREASE 2, for which he wrote five original songs. As Music Director/ jesus1.jpgArranger, he lent his musical talents to the EMMY winning TV Specials, LILY SOLD OUT, and LILY FOR PRESIDENT. Other Broadway credits include, GREASE, [original production], OVER HERE, TRUCKLOAD, RAGGEDY ANNE, ROZA. Just before he became a sought after Conductor/Music Director/ Arranger on Broadway he was an original vocal soloist in the Premiere Production of LEONARD BERNSTEIN’S ‘MASS’ [Kennedy Center Opera House] and can be heard accompanying himself on the Original Cast Album in the Blues Suite. For years now people have been humming and copying his classic ‘vocal licks’ especially heard in all productions of GREASE, such as Teen Angel’s, doo-wee-ee-ooh-ooh’ – the ‘vocal round’, We’ll always be together’, – and of course his incredibly infectious roof-raising dance music in the movie’s infamous HAND JIVE sequence! He has always been and is still in demand for his extremely sensitive Conducting prowess by all the ‘Diva’s’, i.e., Chita Rivera, Ann-Margret, Debbie Allen, Lily Tomlin, Gladys Knight, Betty Buckley, Georgia Brown, Alexis Smith, Susan Anton, Lesley Gore, Nell Carter, Jenifer Lewis, and can be seen accompanying Meryl Streep in the Movie, IRONWEED. His newest accomplishment is one of extraordinary proportion. He has, with total permission from Andrew Lloyd Webber, re-conceived and completely re-arranged the landmark Rock Opera, JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR, transporting it into the visceral world of Black Contemporary Gospel music. This new version now entitled JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR GOSPEL received its world premiere on January 21, 2009, at Atlanta’s Tony Award winning ALLIANCE Theatre. This event is another landmark in St. Louis’ career as it is the first time anyone has ever been allowed to re-conceive a living composer’s work; specially someone as iconic as Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber. Following this will be a new Musical, APAIXONADO, set in modern day Rio De Janeiro. It is a tale of grand passion, seduction, deception and death; musically based in the classically sensuous sounds of Brasil. His vast ‘hands-on’ experience in the world of Theatre, Recording, and and Concert has made him a ‘world-class musician’.


Louis had so much to talk about, that we had to break the interview into two parts! Next week we’ll hear about his involvement as Music Director on the original production and movie of GREASE! Of course he has a lot more to talk about as well!

For more information on JESUS CHRIST SUPERSTAR GOSPEL, Visit the Alliance Theatre’s Website HERE

On the Positive Side

Marty Cooper discusses The Story of My Life, new on Broadway with Will Chase and Malcolm Gets. He also mourns the passing of Musical Arranger and Director, John McGlinn and discusses many of his available recordings.

If you would like to send any comments, questions, or suggestions to Marty, email him at

On the Boards

Fresh Kills

bobbyfunaro.jpgB obby Funaro (Sopranos) stops by to talk about a new play he is appearing in at 59E59 Theatres, FRESH KILLS, By ELYZABETH GREGORY WILDER and Directed by ISAAC BYRNE. He also discusses the perils of being typecast and strategies for keeping it from defining him as an actor.

Here is what the 59E59 Website has to say about the show:

freshkills.jpgStaten Island, New York. Thirty-something Eddie is restless, his wife Marie is busy trying to impress the Women’s League with her kitchen cabinets, and their six-year-old is off camping with the local cub scouts. When Eddie meets sixteen-year-old Arnold on the internet, his life suddenly takes a turn. The two meet and it soon becomes clear that Arnold’s interests go beyond night-time encounters. Part of Working Man’s Clothes Lost Works Project, Fresh Kills received its world premiere in 2004 at London’s Royal Court Theatre. Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder (The First Day of Hunting Season, Jubilee, Tales of an Adolescent Fruit Fly, The Theory of Relativity and Gee’s Bend) is currently working on her second commission for the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and a play for the Denver Center.

FRESH KILLS plays through March 1st. For more information, visit their WEBSITE

Sunday Spotlight

Joe Schermann performing “Cold Day in Hell”


Joe Schermann is a composer who stopped by to perform at our last open mic. It turns out it was actually his first public performance in New York! Let’s hope his days as a cashier at Target are numbered! He performs his original composition, “Cold Day in Hell”.

On the Boards

foolforlove.jpgFool For Love

Director, Kathering Krause stops by to talk about The Bull’s new take on the modern classic, FOOL FOR LOVE, by Sam Shephard.

Here is what their website has to say about their production:

Fool for Love is arguably the hippest love story to hit the stage in three decades…yet recent renditions have lacked the comedy needed to lighten the weighty themes this play provides. We prefer to take it one step further into the brutal surrealism the play already offers. The characters in our version of Fool for Love are just that, characters. We see the play as fool-for-love.jpgan oft times amusing fight, not an opportunity for soul-searching pragmatism. Face it: violent, tumultuous relationships are often times sexy and our human experience with love is often times opposed to social convention. Hence, we offer a pulp version of Fool for Love. Once the Living Theater heard our vision and agreed that Sam Shepard was one of our most esteemed American playwrights, they happily agreed to co-present our revival of Fool for Love. Our rendition is joyful, sexy and mean. We hope you will join us for this knock-down, drag ‘em out fight!

The production, produced by The Bull, will play at The Living Theatre (21 Clinton Street) March 4-22. For more information, visit The Bull’s WEBSITE

Top of the Trades

Next to Normal, with Entire Arena Cast, to Play Broadway’s Longacre

Next to Normal, the acclaimed new musical seen Off-Broadway at Second Stage and more recently at Arlington’s Arena Stage, will arrive on Broadway March 27 at the Longacre Theatre, most recently the home of the Tony-winning revival of Boeing-Boeing.

Next to Normal - Arena StageOpening night is April 15.

Michael Grief, who directed both the Off-Broadway and Arena Stage productions, will direct on Broadway as well. The Broadway production will also boast the entire Arena Stage cast: Alice Ripley, J. Robert Spencer, Aaron Tveit, Jennifer Damiano, Adam Chanler-Berat and Louis Hobson. (Ripley, Tveit, Damiano and Chanler-Berat were also in the Second Stage Theatre production.)

The producers will close the balcony of the Longacre to create a more intimate feel. Instead of seating 1,100, the theatre’s capacity will now be 820. Producer David Stone told The New York Times, “We [wanted] an 800-seat theater but none were available, and this is a very emotional play and I’m a big believer in creating the theater space you need.” Click HERE for more information

Faith Prince Goes ‘Under the Sea’ as ‘Ursula’ in ‘MERMAID’ 4/7

Disney Theatrical Productions will welcome Tony Award® winner Faith Prince to the Broadway company of THE LITTLE MERMAID beginning Tuesday, April 7, 2009 (Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 205 West 46th Street, NYC). Prince will star as “Ursula,” the evil sea witch.

faithprince.jpgOne of Broadway’s most versatile leading ladies, Prince has appeared in 10 main stem shows, most recently the 2008 musical A Catered Affair, for which she received her fourth Tony and fourth Drama Desk nominations along with Outer Critics Circle and Drama League nods. She won the Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for her turn as the perennially unwed “Miss Adelaide” in the 1992 Broadway revival of Guys and Dolls. She also received a lead actress Tony nomination for her role in the revival of Bells Are Ringing and a featured actress Tony nomination for her work in Jerome Robbins’ Broadway, which marked her Broadway debut. Off-Broadway, she created roles in the original cast of Falsettoland and A Man of No Importance and regionally, she starred in the world premiere of Terrence McNally’s Unusual Acts of Devotion.

“We are beyond thrilled that Faith Prince is joining the cast of The Little Mermaid,” said Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Productions. “She is that glorious creature – a leading lady in the great Broadway tradition and we think a perfect match for the role of Ursula, one of Disney’s most uproarious villains. We can’t wait to see what happens when she dons Ursula’s trademark wig and tentacles.” Click HERE for more information.

Barbour, Cuccioli, Earley and Schuck Will Be Among Paper Mill’s 1776 Cast

Initial casting has been announced for the Paper Mill Playhouse’s upcoming production of the Tony-winning musical 1776, which will begin performances at the New Jersey venue April 15.

According to a spokesperson for the famed regional theatre, the cast will include James Barbour as Edward Rutledge, Robert Cuccioli as John Dickinson, John Schuck as Benjamin Franklin and Kevin Earley as Thomas Jefferson. Additional casting will be announced shortly. Gordon Greenberg will direct.

1776, according to the Paper Mill, “follows John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, and Richard Henry Lee and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia as they attempt to convince the members of the second Continental Congress to vote for independence from the shackles of the British monarchy by signing the Declaration of Independence.”

Performances will continue through May 17. Click HERE for more information.