Controversial musical ‘Hello Again” gets two-night concert reading this weekend at RTP
The controversial and often misunderstood musical Hello Again is making its RVA debut this weekend, and the stripped down performance hopes to earn the play a full production in the future at RTP. Controversial
First staged in 1993, Hello Again, with music, lyrics and book by Michael John LaChiusa, follows 10 love affairs across 10 decades with music from each decade used along the way. While it had a number of semi-successful runs, and earned eight Drama Desk Awards, it failed to land with audiences in the long term.
Director of this weekend’s production at Richmond Triangle players, Keith Fitzgerald, is hoping this less-produced read through will change that.
Fitzgerald said the score is “loved by anyone who loves musical theatre,” but the productions dark look and lack of grandiose-dance numbers make it a rarity for the format.
“Getting people to come see it seems to be the trouble,” he said. “[But] I think its possible, people may want to see a full production of it once they hear hour beautiful the music is and how moving the story is.”
Fitzgerald has been in love with Hello Again since he first stumbled across the production in undergrad. He said its portrayal of a love affair between two men was one of the more evocative gay relationship he’d ever seen in a musical.
“You can find it sometimes in plays and dramas,” he said. “But its hard to find such a carnal relationship between two men like this.”
This carnal display is something he admits audiences can get lost in – but he thinks “the focus should be on the relationship between the characters.”
“Everybody’s looking for something in everybody else,” he said. “Those things can vary.”
RTP’s Managing Director Phil Crosby has similar hopes for the production, calling John LaChiusa one of the most acclaimed writers of musicals in the last couple of decades.
“We have always thought it might be a good fit for RTP,” said Crosby. “We thought doing this piece in a concert format would give us a way to see what our audiences react to it.”
Crosby said the highly sexualized nature of the play, as well as the cost, can be a burden when bringing it to the stage.
“It’s tough and very hard-nosed,” he said. “It takes the right fit for a theater to choose to do it.”
But this isn’t the first time a controversial performance leading to a full stage production. Bare: A Pop Opera started out similarly with a concert reading and went on to be a stand out production for RTP winning the RTCC award for Best Musical that year.
Crosby said he was happy to give the play a chance, and will consider its future depending on the audience’s reaction. But if it doesn’t happen, he’ll still be glad they got the chance to give it some stage time.
“We could be happy with the version we produced and be glad that the audiences who came saw something very rare and special,” Crosby said. “Either way is extremely gratifying.”
While Fitzgerald is hopeful for a full production, he’s similarly excited to get the two-show run.
“I’m just really glad to have aided in the Richmond audience getting to experience this music which they might not have had a chance to experience otherwise,” he said.
Hello Again will get two concert readings:
Thursday and Friday, September 17 and 18, 8 pm
Musical Direction by Kim Fox
Production Managment by Lucian Restivo
featuring Bethany Bushey, Drew Colletti, Sean Dunavant, Andrew Etheredge, Alex Farnsworth, Marisa Guida, Emily Sargent, Craig Smith, James Stover and Lanaya Van Driesen.
Reserved Seating Tickets are $15 and Proceeds Benefit the Richmond Theatre Artists’ Fund
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