Bard News & Events

Press Release


Mark Primoff
FOR ONE PERFORMANCE ONLY, ON SUNDAY, AUGUST 28, BARD REVIVES THE SHOW DESCRIBED BY THE NEW YORK DAILY MIRROR IN 1954 AS “THE MOST IMPORTANT MUSICAL SINCE OKLAHOMA!" BARD ALUMNUS AND ACADEMY AWARD–WINNER JONATHAN TUNICK CONDUCTS A CONCERT VERSION DIRECTED BY SARAH STERN ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.—The final event of Bard SummerScape 2005 will be a single concert presentation of Jerome Moross and John Latouche’s musical, The Golden Apple. The musical opened in 1954 off-Broadway and was the first off-Broadway show to receive Best New Musical from the New York Drama Critics Circle. Following universal rave reviews – John Chapman of the New York Daily News called it “the best thing that has happened in and to the theater in a very long time” – the show moved to Broadway’s Alvin Theatre and closed after only 16 weeks. The Golden Apple is based on Homer’s Odyssey, transposed to the American Northwest soon after the Spanish-American War. The reasons for the show’s inability to capture the public’s attention when it made its Broadway premiere continue to be a hotly contested debate. For many, its operatic style was considered out of fashion; others claim it was ahead of its time, and some speculate that The Golden Apple’s story line was too cerebral for a mass audience. However, for many theater aficionados today the work remains something of a cult classic. Erik Haagensen, an expert on lyricist John Latouche and on music-theater, sums up The Golden Apple, after conceding that the work is an opera: “The Golden Apple really was an unpretentious and accessible delight, consisting equally of gently satiric humor and touchingly simple sentiment. Its juxtaposition of high-flown Greek myth with folksy American settings and characters was never arcane and inherently funny. Its view of American innocence tarnished was both sly and wise. And its portrayal of Penelope and Ulysses’ loving but troubled relationship provided an honest and moving emotional core. . . . The music really is terrific, sort of an encyclopedia of popular American musical forms: ballads, cakewalks, vaudeville turns, music hall spoofs, soft-shoes, marches, even a Rodgers and Hammerstein pastiche.” John Cullum, beloved of Broadway and TV audiences alike for his roles in such musicals as Urinetown The Musical, On the Twentieth Century, 1776, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, and Shenandoah and for dramatic parts on ER, Northern Exposure, and other shows, will play the part of Hector: a bad guy, as in the Trojan Wars. Howard McGillin as Ulysses is the Odyssean hero, and Kate Baldwin portrays Helen, the unintended casus belli. Nancy Opel is Lovey Mars, a ringleader among the townsfolk of Angel’s Roost, Washington, a town at the foot of Mount Olympus, undergoing bizarre changes and events in the aftermath of the Spanish-American War. Penelope is performed by two-time Tony Award–nominee, Crista Moore. Bard SummerScape’s acclaimed operatic presentation this summer, Marc Blitzstein’s Regina, is another example of an important work that couldn’t be pigeon-holed by critics or public as either a “show” or an “opera” and suffered an unjust fate similar to The Golden Apple. Critics applauding Bard’s revival of Regina include David Patrick Stearns of the Philadelphia Inquirer, who wrote, “Always an attractively pastoral destination, the Bard SummerScape 2005 festival is a near-mandatory visit for those wanting to reencounter the would-be greatness of composer Marc Blitzstein.” Writing for the New York Times, Anne Midgette called the production “spare, elegant and classy.” Details of the cast and a synopsis of The Golden Apple are below. The Golden Apple Music by Jerome Moross Book and lyrics by John Latouche Performed by the American Symphony Orchestra Conducted by Jonathan Tunick Directed by Sarah Stern Sunday, August 28 at 3:00 pm Sosnoff Theater Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts Tickets: $25, $40, $55 Cast Hector (Mayor of Rhododendron): John Cullum Ulysses (a veteran): Howard McGillin Helen (a farmer’s daughter): Kate Baldwin Penelope: Crista Moore Lovey Mars (the local matchmaker): Nancy Opel Mrs. Juniper (the mayor’s wife): Ann Crumb Miss Minerva Oliver (the village schoolmarm): Cheryl Stern Menelaus (the old sheriff): Daniel Marcus Mother Hare (the local mystic): To be announced Heroes: David Staller, Brandon Victor Dixon, David Hess, Ken Jennings, Drew McVety, and Sinclair Mitchell Synopsis This musical is based on the Iliad and the Odyssey. The story has been transplanted to the town of Angel’s Roost, Washington, at the foot of Mt. Olympus just after the Spanish-American war. Adventure-loving Ulysses and his men return triumphant to their various women, including Ulysses’s wife Penelope and Helen, a young woman married to the old Sheriff Menelaus. In honor of the returning soldiers, the townsfolk organize a fair, in which there will be a baking competition. Old Mother Hare, who supplies the women with herbs and prophecies, is left out of the festivities, but she shows up anyway. She has an apple made of gold wire that she will award to the best baker. Three important townswomen, Miss Minerva, Mrs. Juniper, and Lovey Mars, elect Paris, a balloon-riding traveling salesman to judge the contest, then promptly try to influence his vote. Lovey Mars wins because she promises him Helen. Soon Paris and Helen are wafting away to Rhododendron, the big city, as Mother Hare gleefully waves goodbye. Although Ulysses had promised Penelope that he’d stay home for a change, he immediately gathers his men and goes off to retrieve Helen. Helen is the toast of Rhododendron for a while, until the Angel’s Roost men show up and take over. Ulysses bundles her back off to Menelaus, but he and his men want to see the big city before they return. Rhododendron is mayor, Hector, sees this as his chance for revenge against the conquerors. Their late-night bender lasts 10 years, and his men vanish one by one into the maw of the city and its sinful inhabitants: Calypso (a nymph/social climber), Scylla and Charybdis (greedy stockbrokers), the Sirens (prostitutes), a crazy lady scientist who shoots men into space but can’t get them back, and Circe (a magician’s lady sidekick). Ulysses’s last hero, Achilles, intercepts a knife aimed at him by Paris, leaving the commander the sole survivor. He does some soul-searching and returns to Penelope, who is none too pleased with him after his 10-year absence. However, he convinces her that he is staying for good this time. For more information contact the Bard box office at 845-758-7900 or visit the Bard websites:

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This event was last updated on 08-29-2005