To coincide with Futurity, FEED’s second post-show thematic chat looked at two examples of music-theater pieces that are consciously pushing the genre into new places. How does a musical such as Futurity buck the traditionalist trend whilst straddling a series of genres? In this discussion, Editor-in-Chief of American Theatre magazine Rob Weinert-Kendt interviews César Alvarez – composer, librettist and star of Futurity – along with Lisa Kron – librettist and book writer of another left-of-center musical – the Tony Award-winning Fun Home.
César Alvarez is a New York-based composer, lyricist, and writer. His recent composition credits include Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon (Soho Rep., TFANA; Drama Desk nomination), Washeteria (Soho Rep.), The Foundry Theatre’s Good Person of Szechwan (LaMaMa, Public Theater; Drama Desk nomination), Mac Wellman’s 3 2’s; or AFAR (Dixon Place), and Full Still Hungry for Contra-Tiempo (Ford Amphitheater, Dance Motion USA). In development: The Universe is a Small Hat, a multi-player participatory musical (Berkeley Rep Ground Floor, Civilians R&D Group, PRELUDE NYC, Babycastles); The Elementary Spacetime Show (Ars Nova Uncharted, EST/Sloan Commission, Polyphone); Castro with Lucas Hnath (Berkeley Rep Ground Floor and Space at Ryder Farm). Alvarez is an Artist-in-Residence at The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and the Artistic Director of Polyphone, a festival of the emerging musical at UArts.
Lisa Kron has been writing and performing theater since coming to New York from Michigan in 1984. Her work has been widely produced in New York, regionally, and internationally. Her plays include the musical Fun Home, a musical written with composer Jeanine Tesori and based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel; The Ver**zon Play, which premiered 2012 Humana Festival; In The Wake which received Lortel and GLAAD Media Award nominations, was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, named a “Best Play of 2010” by TimeOut and Backstage, and was included in the Best Plays Theater Yearbook 2010-2011; Well, which premiered at the Public Theater, was named a “Best Play of 2004” by the New York Times, the Associated Press, the Newark Star Ledger, Backstage, and the Advocate, included in the Best Plays Theater Yearbook of 2003-2004, and moved to Broadway where both she and Jayne Houdyshell received Tony nominations for their performances. 2.5 Minute Ride, which had its New York premiere at the Public Theater, received OBIE, L.A. Drama-Logue, New York Press, and GLAAD Media Awards, and continues to be performed by Lisa and others all over the world; 101 Humiliating Stories, which received a Drama Desk nomination for its PS122 premiere andwas a part of Lincoln Center’s 1993 “Serious Fun!” performance series.
Rob Weinert-Kendt (moderator) is editor-in-chief of American Theatre. He was the founding editor-in-chief of Back Stage West and writes about theatre for the New York Times, Time Out NY, and the Los Angeles Times. He studied film at USC and is a composer member of the BMI Lehman Engel Musical Theater Workshop.