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Snow Child
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Snow Child

Book by John Strand
Music by Bob Banghart and Georgia Stitt
Lyrics by Georgia Stitt
Directed by Molly Smith
Music Supervisor and Orchestrations by Lynne Shankel
Co-Production with Perseverance Theatre

Based on the novel by Eowyn Ivey
April 13 — May 20, 2018
Kreeger Theater

Eowyn Ivey’s debut novel The Snow Child, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, is reborn as a magical new musical featuring a score that combines Alaskan string-band traditions and contemporary musical theater. The 1920 Alaskan wilderness is a brutal place to try to save a marriage. Reeling from the loss of an unborn child, Mabel and Jack struggle to rebuild their lives even as the fissures between them continue to widen. But everything changes suddenly when they are visited by a wild, mysterious girl who embodies the dark woods that surround their cabin. In this beautiful and violent land, things are rarely as they appear, and what the snow child teaches them will ultimately transform them all.

Snow Child is generously sponsored by Andrew R. Ammerman and and is the recipient of an Edgerton Foundation New Play Award.

Cast

Alex AlferovALEX ALFEROV (Garrett) returns to Arena Stage after appearing as the Fiddler in Fiddler on the Roof. D.C-area credits include Everything Is Illuminated (Theater J, East Coast premiere); Secret Garden (Shakespeare Theatre Company); 110 in the Shade (Ford’s Theatre); The Diary of Anne Frank and Complete Works of Shakespeare [abridged] (Olney Theatre Center); Cerulean Time Capsule (Kennedy Center Theatre for Young Audiences); Avenue Q(Constellation Theatre Company); Lyle the Crocodile (Imagination Stage); and others. Regional credits include Secret Garden (TUTS Houston). TV credits include Difficult People (with Victor Garber), Bride Killa and I Was Possessed. Alex received a B.M. from Catholic University. www.alexalferov.com. Instagram: @alfalferov.

Matt BogartMATT BOGART (Jack) is pleased to be back at Arena Stage with Molly Smith and company, having previously performed Val in Orpheus Descending, Lancelot in Camelot (Helen Hayes nomination) and Joe in Damn Yankees. Also in D.C., Side Show and 110 in the Shade (Signature Theatre) and Paul in Company (Kennedy Center’s Sondheim Celebration). On Broadway, Matt starred in Jersey Boys, Aida, Miss Saigon, The Civil War and Smokey Joe’s Café (also filmed for TV/film). National tour credits include Camelot and Off-Broadway credits include Himself and Nora. He has performed across the US in venues including Lincoln Center, Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. TV credits include Robert Goulet in Vinyl, JFK in Smash and Law & Order: SVU. B.F.A. from Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Recordings on iTunes and www.MattBogart.com. Love to his wife, Jessica, and boys.

Dorothy JamesDOROTHY JAMES (Ensemble/ Fox) is thrilled to be making her Arena Stage debut! A Brooklyn-based puppeteer, Dorothy has performed Off-Broadway in the New York Times Critics’ Pick Made In China (Wakka Wakka, 59E59) and at Radio City Music Hall in The NY Spectacular Starring the Radio City Rockettes (dir. Mia Michaels). She has also appeared around New York in Kate Brehm’s interactive installation The Poofs. Specializing in devised puppet theater, Dorothy has developed work at St. Ann’s Warehouse, The Eugene O’Neill Theater Center and FigurTeateret in Norway. She is currently devising her new project, teacups, as part of the Object Movement Festival in New York this Spring. www.dorothy-james.com

David LandstromDAVID LANDSTROM (Ensemble/ Plow Horse/ Swan) is honored to be making his Arena Stage debut with Snow Child. He was last seen at Signature Theatre, rocking out with Jesus Christ Superstar in all his bearded glory. Some of his favorite roles include Sparky in Forever Plaid and a Bad Idea Bear in Avenue Q (Olney Theatre Center). Other favorites are Nate in Big Nate (Adventure Theatre tour) and LeFou in Beauty and the Beast (Imagination Stage). He is the proud recipient of the 2017 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Musical for his portrayal of Gabe in Next to Normal at Keegan Theatre. He wants to thank his family because he loves them. Remember: don’t joke on the ice, it might just crack up.

Dan ManningDAN MANNING (George) is thrilled to make his Arena Stage debut. D.C.-area productions include I’ll Get You Back Again and Camille (Round House); Silver Belles, Road Show, The Fix, Beaches and Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (Signature Theatre); Ragtime and Golden Age (Kennedy Center); Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (Studio Theatre); 1776 and Big River (Ford’s Theatre); Midsummer Night’s Dream (Maryland Stage Company); and A Lie of the Mind and A Shayna Maidel (Rep Stage). Dan appeared on Broadway in the 2009 revival of Ragtime, Off-Broadway in the original cast of Smoke on the Mountain and regionally at Center Stage, Court Theatre and Sacramento Music Theatre in California. Film credits include Gods and Generals, State of Play, Renaissance Man and Pretty Molly and TV credits include Veep, House of Cards, The Wire, West Wing and X-Files.

Calvin McCulloughCALVIN McCULLOUGH (Ensemble/ Plow Horse) makes his Arena Stage debut. D.C.-area credits include Jesus Christ Superstar (Signature Theatre); Godspell and Carmen (Olney Theatre Center); A Christmas Carol (Ford’s Theatre); Shrek the Musical and In the Heights (Toby’s Dinner); Miss Nelson is Missing, The Snowy Day, BIG and Mirandy and Brother Wind (Adventure Theatre); A Raisin in the Sun (Everyman Theatre); and Peter and the Wolf, Looking for Roberto Clemente, When She Had Wings and The Freshest Snow Whyte (Imagination Stage).

Christiane NollCHRISTIANE NOLL (Mabel) makes her Arena Stage debut. She won a Helen Hayes Award, and received Tony Award and Drama Desk nominations for the Kennedy Center’s revival of Ragtime on Broadway. She starred on Broadway in Chaplin (Drama Desk nomination), …Nothin But the Blues and Jekyll & Hyde and Off-Broadway in Elf (Madison Square Garden), 1776 and New Moon (Encores!) and Closer than Ever .D.C. appearances include Kid Victory, Ace and Witches of Eastwick (Signature Theatre), as well as National Opera (with Placido Domingo) and multiple concerts with National Symphony. She has toured in Urinetown, Mambo Kings, Grease, Miss Saigon and City of Angels and won awards for Next to Normal and Follies. Film/TV credits include Madam Secretary, Law & Order SVU, The Good Fight, Sound of Music Live and King & I. She has five solo CDs. www.christianenoll.com

Fina StrazzaFINA STRAZZA (Faina) makes her Arena Stage debut. A native New Yorker, Fina made her Broadway debut as the youngest to perform the title role in Matilda the Musical. She was chosen by Mariah Carey to star in Hallmark Channel’s A Christmas Melody, where she performed the hit Oh Santa. Off-Broadway/theater/workshop credits include Animal (Atlantic); A Loss of Roses (St Clements Theater); Diana (Powerhouse Theater); Anastasia; Summer and Smoke (Classic Stage); Alice Bliss (Playwrights Horizon). TV credits include Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; The Thing About Babies (Nickelodeon); Thanksgiving Day Parade; Mariah’s Merriest Christmas. Film credits include A Little Game, Early Learnings, Fracktured and major roles in feature films, Callahan, Tribe and Shadow Girl, scheduled for 2018 release. To John Mara Jr, Rachel Altman and Ellen Gilbert at Paradigm, and her increasingly flexible and supportive family, Fina is preternaturally "GRATEFUL!"

Natalie ToroNATALIE TORO (Esther) makes her Arena Stage debut. On Broadway, Natalie originated the role of Madame Defarge in A Tale of Two Cities, Sally in A Christmas Carol and was the first American to play Eponine in Les Miserables. National tour credits include Eva Peron in the 20th Anniversary Tour of Evita, Jesus Christ Superstar, CATS and In the Heights. Off- Broadway credits include The Yellow Brick Road, Zombie Prom, The Audience and Magpie. Regional credits include Benny and Joon, The Bikinis, Zorba, Blood Brothers, Frances of Guernica, Everything’s Ducky, Fame and The Fix. TV credits include Law and Order, SVU, Elementary, Person of Interest, Black Box and PBS. She has performed as a soloist with symphony orchestras and at Carnegie Hall, National Concert Hall (Dublin) and major cruise lines. Solo CD’s, Natalie Toro and Just in Time for Christmas. www.natalietoro.com

Creative

JOHN STRAND (Book)’s Arena Stage commissions include Snow Child, The Originalist, The Miser, Lovers and Executioners (MacArthur Award) and Tom Walker. Recent works include the book and lyrics for Hat! A Vaudeville (South Coast Repertory); Lincolnesque (Old Globe); and Lorenzaccio (Shakespeare Theatre Company), and the book for the musical The Highest Yellow (Signature Theatre). Additional plays are The Diaries (Signature Theatre, MacArthur nomination); Otabenga (Signature Theatre, MacArthur nomination); Three Nights in Tehran (Signature Theatre); and The Cockburn Rituals (Woolly Mammoth). Strand spent 10 years in Paris, where he worked as a journalist and drama critic, and directed NYU’s Experimental Theater Wing in Paris. His novel Commieland was published by Kiwai Media, Paris in 2013. He is currently at work on a new play about President Teddy Roosevelt for Arena Stage and on the film adaptation of The Originalist.

BOB BANGHART (Composer) has been performing throughout Alaska, Canada and the Pacific Northwest since the mid-70s. He co-founded the Alaska Folk Festival and Juneau Jazz and Classics, which are annual weeklong festivals in their 43rd and 30th years, respectively. He began composition work with the 1991 Perseverance Theatre production The Collected Works of Billy the Kid, directed by Molly Smith, and has since scored over a dozen theater productions, an opera and numerous independent TV shows and films. Recent works include The Little Prince directed by Katie Jensen, Metamorphoses directed by Dave Hunsaker and the opera Hansel and Gretel directed by Henning Hegland. Bob lives in Juneau, Alaska with his wife Laura Lucas and dog Jasmine.

GEORGIA STITT (Composer/Lyricist) is currently writing the musicals Snow Child, Blue Ridge Sky, Juliette et Romeo and a large-form choral oratorio. Other shows include The Danger Year, Big Red Sun (Arlen Award), Samantha Spade: Ace Detective (National Youth Theater Award), Mosaic and The Water. Albums include This Ordinary Thursday, Alphabet City Cycle (featuring Kate Baldwin) and My Lifelong Love. Her choral piece with hope and virtue (using text from President Obama’s 2009 inauguration speech) was featured on NPR and her orchestral piece, Waiting for Wings, co-written with husband Jason Robert Brown, was recorded by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Other credits include music director for 2016’s Sweet Charity (Off-Broadway), The Last Five Years (film) and The Sound Of Music Live! (NBC). She is on the Board of Directors for The Lilly Awards Foundation. www.georgiastitt.com

MOLLY SMITH (Director) has served as Artistic Director since 1998. Her more than 30 directing credits at Arena Stage include The Originalist, Fiddler on the Roof, Camp David, Carousel, Mother Courage and Her Children, Oklahoma!, A Moon for the Misbegotten, My Fair Lady, The Great White Hope, The Music Man, Legacy of Light, The Women of Brewster Place, Cabaret, South Pacific, All My Sons and How I Learned to Drive. Her directorial work has also been seen at Canada’s Shaw Festival, Pasadena Playhouse, The Old Globe, Asolo Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Trinity Repertory, Toronto’s Tarragon Theatre, Montreal’s Centaur Theatre and Perseverance Theater in Juneau, Alaska, which she founded and ran from 1979-1998. Molly has been a leader in new play development for over 30 years. She is a great believer in first, second and third productions of new work and has championed projects including Dear Evan Hansen; Next to Normal; Passion Play, a cycle; and How I Learned to Drive. She has worked alongside playwrights Sarah Ruhl, Paula Vogel, Wendy Wasserstein, Lawrence Wright, Karen Zacarías, John Murrell, Eric Coble, Charles Randolph-Wright and many others. She led the re-invention of Arena Stage, focusing on the architecture and creation of the Mead Center for American Theater and positioning Arena Stage as a national center for American artists. During her time with the company, Arena Stage has workshopped more than 100 productions, produced 39 world premieres, staged numerous second and third productions and been an important part of nurturing nine projects that went on to have a life on Broadway. In 2014, Molly made her Broadway debut directing The Velocity of Autumn, following its critically acclaimed run at Arena Stage. She was awarded honorary doctorates from American University and Towson University. This summer, she will direct The Originalist Off-Broadway at 59E59 Theaters.

LYNNE SHANKEL (Music Supervisor/Orchestrations) has written orchestrations and arrangements for everyone from Chita Rivera, the New York Pops and Raul Esparza to Tony Award winner/Bon Jovi member David Bryan and the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. On Broadway, she was music supervisor/arranger/orchestrator for Allegiance, music director/arranger for Cry-Baby, and resident music supervisor for the Tony Award-winning revival of Company. She was music director/arranger for the Off-Broadway hit Altar Boyz, for which she received a Drama Desk nomination for orchestrations. Lynne received a second Drama Desk nomination for The Extraordinary Ordinary (by Paul Loesel and Scott Burkell). She recently orchestrated the critically acclaimed premiere of Life After in Toronto. As a composer, credits include bare: The Musical and Postcard American Town.

WILLIAM YANESH (Music Director) returns to Arena Stage after serving as Associate Music Director on Carousel. His music and lyrics were performed Off-Broadway in Caps for Sale (New Victory Theater; National Tour). D.C.-area credits as music director include Me…Jane (Kennedy Center TYA), Floyd Collins (1st Stage), Ordinary Days (Round House), Jesus Christ Superstar and The Last Five Years (Signature Theatre, Helen Hayes nomination for music direction). His orchestrations include Man of La Mancha (Shakespeare Theatre Company) and Alexander and the Terrible…, and Miss Nelson is Missing! (Adventure Theatre MTC). William has served as associate conductor for Caroline, or Change (Round House) and A Little Night Music and West Side Story (Signature Theater). Education: Carnegie Mellon University.

JOSE C. SIMBULAN (Associate Music Director) is honored to be back at Arena Stage where he previously worked on The Music Man, South Pacific and Sunday in the Park with George. Earlier this season, he served as the music director for the acclaimed production of Lookingglass Alice at Baltimore Center Stage. On Broadway, he has been in the pits of Lestat and A Chorus Line. Other D.C.-area credits include productions at The Kennedy Center, Ford’s Theatre and Signature Theatre. Jose is a proud graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, and has been the pianist for both the Unified Professional Theatre Auditions and the Southeastern Theatre Conference for over 20 years. Twitter and IG: @JoseSPiano. Many thanks to Molly and Georgia for this opportunity, and to George for that “first” opportunity. For DAS.

ERIC WRIGHT (Puppetry Direction) is happy to return to Arena Stage, since his puppetry performance in Mabou Mines’ Peter and Wendy. He is one of the co-founders of the Puppet Kitchen, which has designed and built puppets for stage and screen productions around the world since 2008, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show, The San Diego Zoo’s Centennial Celebration and Thom Browne’s Paris Fashion Show. Eric’s performance credits include Compulsion (Public Theater), Madama Butterfly (Metropolitan Opera), Disfarmer (St. Ann’s Warehouse) and The Firebird (New York City Center). puppetkitchen.com @puppetkitchen

TODD ROSENTHAL (Set Designer)’s Broadway credits, August Osage County (Tony Award), The Motherf**cker with the Hat (Tony nomination), Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Of Mice and Men (filmed by National Theatre Live), This is Our Youth and Fish in the Dark, and the upcoming Straight White Men. Off-Broadway credits, Red Light Winter (Barrow Street), Domesticated (Lincoln Center) and Qualms (Playwrights Horizons). Designer for six years for Big Apple Circus. International credits, August Osage County (London & Australia), The Beauty Queen of Leenane (Ireland), Nice Fish and Downstate (London). Regional credits, Arena Stage, Steppenwolf (28 productions), Goodman (artistic partner), Guthrie, Berkeley Repertory and others. Museum exhibitions include “Mythbusters: The Explosive Exhibition” and “The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes.” Awards include Olivier, Helen Hayes, Ovation, Garland, Joseph Jefferson, Bay Area Critics Circle and Michael Merritt. Professor, Northwestern University. Graduate, Yale Drama.

JOSEPH P. SALASOVICH (Costume Designer) is the costume director at Arena Stage, where he has worked for 17 seasons in various capacities on over 100 productions. He most recently designed costumes for Molly Smith’s Mother Courage and Her Children and the world premiere of The Originalist. He held internships with Williamstown Theatre Festival and Actors Theatre of Louisville. Joe studied at the University of Dayton. For Karen and Marjan.

KIMBERLY PURTELL (Lighting Designer) is thrilled to be part of the creative team for Snow Child and to be making her Arena Stage debut. She is a Toronto-based lighting designer in theater, opera and dance. Kimberly first collaborated with Molly Smith at the Shaw Festival on Our Town. Recent credits include Mamma Mia (Citadel Theatre); The Humans (Theatre Calgary); Life After and Declarations (Canadian Stage Company); Madness of King George and Androcles and the Lion (Shaw Festival); Timon of Athens, The Virgin Trial and The Madwoman of Chaillot (Stratford Festival); The Barber of Seville (Pacific Opera Victoria). She designed the Canadian tour of Life Reflected (National Arts Centre Orchestra) and the North American tour for Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton. Kimberly received the Pauline McGibbon Award, three Dora Mavor Moore Awards and a Montreal English Theatre Award.

ROC LEE (Sound Designer) is a D.C.-based composer and sound designer. Arena Stage credits include The Price, The Year of Magical Thinking and Mother Courage and Her Children. Additional credits include Charm, Hooded: Or Being Black for Dummies and Ulysses On Bottles (Mosaic Theater); Aubergine, Annie, Fickle Fancy Farce and Dial M for Murder (Olney Theater Center); Curve of Departure (Studio Theatre); Love and Information (Forum Theatre); Hello My Name Is… (The Welders); The Lathe of Heaven (Spooky Action Theater and Georgetown University); Our Town (Faction of Fools); Romeo and Juliet (We Happy Few); Sleeping Beauty (Pointless Theatre); and Seneca El Raton de Biblioteca and In the Heights (Gala Hispanic Theatre). He holds a Master of Music in stage music composition from Catholic University. www.roclee.net

SHAWN DUAN (Projection Designer) is a New York-based projection designer and media consultant. Select credits include Broadway’s Chinglish (Longacre), and Off-Broadway/New York with The Public Theater and Abrons Art Center. Regional credits include The Guthrie, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, South Coast Repertory, Seattle Repertory, Berkeley Repertory, Trinity Repertory, Pittsburgh Public, Flat Rock Playhouse, North Shore Music Theatre and Virginia Stage Company. Opera credits include New York City Opera and Center for Contemporary Opera. Tours/commercial work includes An Evening with Pacino (US/international), numerous US commercial entertainment tours, Chinglish (HK Arts Festival) and numerous Las Vegas shows/concerts.

EMILY DeCOLA (Puppet Designer) works with puppets as a designer, director and performer. Favorite credits include Peter & Wendy (Arena Stage); Compulsion (The Public); ImaginOcean (national tour); The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show (Sydney Festival, New York, West End); The Soldier’s Tale and Four Seasons in Buenos Dairies (Orchestra of St. Luke’s); and the many many creatures of the San Diego Zoo Centennial Celebration. She’s a proud co-founder of the Puppet Kitchen (www.puppetkitchen.com) and is thrilled that puppets are finally hip.

LEWIS SHAW (Fight Director) returns to Arena Stage after working on Sovereignty and A Raisin in the Sun. Regional credits include A Streetcar Named DesireWait Until DarkGreat ExpectationsDeathtrap and Ruined (Everyman Theater, resident company member); Nabucco and Don Giovanni (Washington National Opera); and A Skull in CinemasSnow Falling on Cedars and Bus Stop(Baltimore Center Stage). Lewis is the owner/operator of Vulcan’s Forge, and has made weapons and action props for many regional and Broadway productions, as well as The Vampire DiariesGothamDaredevilIron Fist and the upcoming Defenders.

JOCELYN CLARKE (Dramaturg) is currently Theatre Adviser to the Arts Council of Ireland and Dramaturg at American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. He has taught dramaturgy at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Columbia University and Trinity College Dublin. He was the Commissioning and Literary Manager of the Abbey Theatre for four years, and lead theater critic with The Sunday Tribune for nine years. He is an associate artist with The Civilians and Theatre Mitu in New York. He has written six plays for Anne Bogart and the SITI Company — Bob, Alice’s Adventures Underground, Room, Score, Antigone and Trojan Women (After Euripides) – and Chess Game No. 5, his new collaboration with the company, premiered in New York in March.

ANITA MAYNARD-LOSH (Text Director) is in her 14th season at Arena Stage. She directed the world premiere of Our War and served as associate director on several productions, including Sovereignty, Carousel, Oliver! and Oklahoma. Anita trained and taught at American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, was on the faculty at Webster University in St. Louis, headed the theater department at the University of Alaska Southeast and was the associate artistic director of Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska. The Alaska Native-inspired production of Macbeth that Anita conceived and directed was performed in English and Tlingit at the National Museum of the American Indian in D.C. Through Arena Stage’s devised theater program, Voices of Now, Anita has collaborated on creating and directing original plays with communities in India and Croatia.

SUSAN R. WHITE (Stage Manager) is thrilled to be a part of Arena’s 68th season and to be working, once again, with Artistic Director Molly Smith. Congratulations to Molly on her 20th Anniversary at Arena's helm. Susan is a proud member of Actors’ Equity Association

TREVOR A. RILEY (Assistant Stage Manager)’s previous Arena Stage credits include Sovereignty, The Price, Intelligence, Carousel, Destiny of Desire and Our War. Other D.C.-area credits include My Fair Lady, The Diary of Anne Frank, Bakersfield Mist, Godspell and A Christmas Carol (Olney Theatre Center); The Jungle Book, Jack and Phil, Slayers of Giants-INC, A Year with Frog and Toad and Sinbad: The Untold Tale (Imagination Stage); and Just the Two of Each of Us, Appropriate, Detroit and The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity (Woolly Mammoth).

Video

 

Photo Gallery

Interview with the Creators of Snow Child

ARENA STAGE: John, what first sparked your interest in this story? What is the most challenging aspect of turning this novel into a musical for the stage?

JOHN: What most drew me to the story is the character who embodies the wildness and mystery of Alaska itself, the snow child. Like the land, she shapes and transforms everyone around her. When Molly Smith asked me about adapting Eowyn Ivey’s novel for the stage, I immediately said yes—but it has to be a musical. The story is rich and epic, the characters compelling, the setting magnificent. To fully translate the power and beauty of this narrative to the stage, we needed song. With Georgia and Bob’s stunning score and lyrics, we’ve got the means to transform our audiences and give them something truly memorable. The challenge is in going from novel to live performance—also a bit of a wild and mysterious transformation. All the elements of a great story are here: a woman who discovers the courage to believe in something that is beyond the logic of words, but present in song and ancient tale. Alaska is a central character, always present, glorious and unforgiving, a window into the social and political tensions of the time, the 1920s. This musical is our journey through that mythical land.

ARENA STAGE: Georgia, can you tell us a bit about your process of writing words and music for this new musical?

GEORGIA: For me, finding the voices of these characters was initially about investigating their relationships to their locale. Mabel and Jack are newcomers to Alaska; they are extremely verbal and they both have strong instincts to control everything, even when they don’t understand it. George, Esther and Garrett have been in Alaska much longer, so they live a bit more fully in harmony with the land and its seasons, its wildness, its opportunities. Faina is basically made out of the Alaskan snow itself, and she’s more comfortable with the animals than with other people. So the languages for these three sets of characters had to be different, both in terms of how “wordy” they are and how complicated their music is. I also played a lot with silence, which is an idea that Eowyn Ivey expresses so beautifully in the book. How do you musicalize the silence of being alone? Bob and I needed to create aural spaces that longed to be filled, and the stringed instruments allowed us a way to tug deeply at those emotions. That ache of making peace with your emptiness has turned out to be a major metaphor throughout the whole show, and it all starts with the very first lyric… “Hello, silence.”

ARENA STAGE: Bob, you live in Juneau, Alaska. How does the Americana music in this production help illuminate the culture and people of Alaska?

BOB: The roots music we draw from for the production comes from a number of styles that have been present in Alaska and the North for many decades. Fiddle music has a long tradition in the North since the introduction of the violin by the French and English in the 18th century. American string band traditions moved through the North with the gold rushes of the late 19th century. Adding to those influences is country and blues arriving with the first recordings and radios. In the 1970’s a large influx of new people, brought by adventure and opportunity just as the earlier waves of travelers, created music that reflected personal experiences and impression of their sense of place and community. The long winter nights and endless summer days, with gatherings in homes to share a meal and a tune or two, slowly deepened and matured the traditions that provided new opportunities for discovery. This process continues on today within the mix of music and life in the North. With the music we are reaffirming our humanity, our creative adaptability and our need for reinvention… just as our characters in the production. The music weds to the lyrics to help the characters, and us, understand our only constant is change.

ARENA STAGE: Georgia and Bob, this musical has an exciting, unique sound. Can you tell us about the process of collaborating on a musical that pulls from traditional roots as well as a contemporary musical theater sound? How do you find that balance?

BOB: The challenge for me at first was finding our common language. I come from a self-taught tradition that does not always produce a fluid knowledge of musical theory in contrast to Georgia who is highly skilled and academically trained. We had to invent a language for us to communicate the core ideas we needed to meld together to support story and character. Our first efforts were, as one would expect with two people learning to dance together… lots of stepped on toes. Once we were able to determine who would lead and where, we began to see results.

GEORGIA: I have a distinct memory of talking about a song moment and realizing that my words were not making sense to Bob. He has studied both art history and mechanical engineering and so we found a way to talk about the structure of the song — the shape of it, the colors of it, the way it builds, how it’s supported — and we drew a physical graph of the song on a cocktail napkin. It worked. We both said, “YES, that’s it!” Bob’s intelligence runs deep and his musical and theatrical instincts are quite often in the same ballpark as mine, but it did take us several months to learn how to communicate. Several cocktail napkins later, I think we have both learned a lot from each other and we’re very proud to say the score sounds like both of us.

BOB: Georgia provided lyrics, we would discuss color, meter, intent, etc… and I would go to work on first cut of music. Georgia would review and suggest changes that supported her vision of the lyrics that I had not caught, or understated / overstated. That effort would require a rewrite from me, which would then be sent back to Georgia. Once we had agreement on the basic tune, set for the most part within a roots vein, [what I describe as a traditional arch] Georgia would determine what elements/aspects of the tune lent themselves to musical theater patterns and she would expand on them.

GEORGIA: Bob composed mostly on guitar, mandolin and fiddle, but I knew we’d be working a lot with a rehearsal piano, so many of my first instincts were about figuring out how to “translate” his musical ideas onto a keyboard without losing the colors that made them authentic. And then, many times when we played the song for John, he’d have questions about a lyric and I’d go back and rewrite that. So the back-and-forth among all three of us has really proven to be exciting. I’ve never had another collaboration quite like this one.

BOB: The results have provided us both with some wonderful surprises and earned confirmations. Best part is we have been able to maintain and grow the work as collective and centered in service of character and support of story.

GEORGIA: I think it’s a real testament to Molly Smith’s vision of this piece that she sought the three of us out — each from a different background, a different city, a different point of view — and made us figure out how to function as a team. We really all just want to manifest the version of this show that makes Molly happy!

Events

Post-Show Discussions

May 2, 2018 – 12:00 p.m.
May 3, 2018 – 8:00 p.m.
May 8, 2018 – 12:00 p.m.
May 8, 2018 – 7:30 p.m.
May 9, 2018 – 12:00 p.m.

Accessibility

Audio Described

May 5, 2018 – 2:00 p.m.

Open Captioned

May 9, 2018 – 7:30 p.m.
May 12, 2018 – 2:00 p.m.
May 15, 2018 – 7:30 p.m.

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Snow Child runs approximately two hours and 10 minutes with one 15 minute intermission.

Snow Child