A Madison musical hit journeys to NYC
One of the misconceptions one sometimes encounters about the arts in the "Outback" is that there is little original work being created here, or that people in smaller communities are in "trickle down" mode, waiting for touring shows or performers from bigger cities to make it here.
Of course, it's not news to those in smaller and mid-size cities that there is quite a lot of original work being created, much of it of high quality. In that spirit, I wanted to share a story in today's Wisconsin State Journal about the Off-Broadway debut in New York of the Madison-made musical "Walmartopia," a zany yet pointed spoof of the mass retailer and global economic force that enjoyed a successful run at Madison's Bartell Community Theatre in 2005 (under the auspices of Mercury Players Theatre). It was one of my favorite local shows of that year.
After a brief extra run locally at the Barrymore Theatre, "Walmartopia" moved on to New York's Fringe Festival and is now Off-Broadway.
While the whole story by Katjusa Cisar is well worth reading, this part seemed most germane to our concerns here on Flyover:
[Co-creators Catherine] Capellaro and [Andrew] Rohn stress that it was the enthusiasm of people in Madison, not money, that got them to Off-Broadway.
"It bounced us to the Fringe Festival (in New York) and then bounced us here," says Capellaro.
Rohn adds, "I keep wanting to convey to people who do art in Madison and other small places that I don't think there's a qualitative difference between here and there. The soul and spirit of performers is the same."
For any New Yorkers who happen to be reading Flyover, I highly recommend checking out this show--and feel free to post your thoughts about it in the comments (I'm curious about changes from the Madison version). And in the meantime, we Madisonians will have to await Rohn and Capellaro's musical about intelligent design and creationism--if their previous work is any indication, it should be a hoot.
Update: Here's some additional coverage of the New York version of "Walmartopia" from Madison's alternative weekly, Isthmus, the Guardian, the New York Times (which gave a quite negative review) and MSNBC.
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