Easily the largest undertaking in our history, we are assembling all the elements for this musical this weekend for the first time and, while slow and laborious, what we’re seeing and hearing is pretty spectacular. The costumes, designed by the inimitable Reggie Ray and a his team from Howard University are so confident, so outrageously post-modern, so interestingly conceived by Reggie, and director Nick Olcott picking on the suggestions in playwright Yehuda Hyman’s libretto, that the entire production seems to rest on the very audaciousness of this zig-zagging through the centuries, having a strapping David in biblical tunic, a servant to King Saul wearing a Jeeves/valet/butler tux and speaking in a clipped British dialect, a punk rock Goliath in pleather pants, a modern military officer’s jacket and black sunglasses for the battle figure of Uriah, and so on. The principal circle of characters who make up the family of Saul and David are dressed in stylish archaic biblical with only spare modern touches. The surrounding figures and players bring us much more up-to-date. Colin Bills‘ lights bring the shadow screen imagery into huge theatrical relief. This is Colin’s most ambitious lighting plot for us, just as it’s the most impressive score and most incredible gathering of musicians we’ve ever assembled. It is huge and quite glorious when it works and comes together.
(I’ll run a full list of the incredible design team when I have the correct spelling in front of me!)
On the other hand, we’re hours behind where we’d like to be. We probably won’t finish our tech of the entire show tonight. We’ve allowed for the process to continue on Tuesday and we’ll hopefully get through a first run-through, a first dress rehearsal, on Tuesday night. Wednesday is now our first and only Pay What You Can Preview. We’ll learn a lot from that run through, even if we’re not really ready for it. We’ll see what we have in front of an audience. And then, with Thursday’s preview cut in favor of a more evaluative working session, we’ll have three rehearsal sessions to refine, cut, adjust before our 2nd preview on Saturday night. We’ve taken a lot of the pressure out of this first week of previews so as to ensure that we keep building this big show in calm, careful, deliberate, painstaking fashion.
I wish we had a clip to show; a video or audio file that might give a sense of what we’ve got cooking here. Instead, let me just give you the cast of characters, which is fascinating all by itself. And then refer you over to the website to read much more about the show.
DAVID IN SHADOW AND LIGHT
CAST OF CHARACTERS
METATRON – an Archangel
ADAM – the first human
SAMUEL – a prophet
DAVID – a shepherd, then the second king of the Hebrews
SAUL – the first king of the Hebrews
SERVANT – valet to King Saul
MICHAL – a princess, Saul’s daughter
JONATHAN – a prince, Saul’s son
GOLIATH – a Philistine soldier
GOLIATH’s MOTHER – a Philistine of Moabite heritage
URIAH – a Hittite soldier in the Hebrew army
NATHAN – a prophet
AMNON – first born son of King David
TAMAR – daughter of King David
ABSALOM – youngest son of King David
BATSHEVA – wife of Uriah, and wife of King David
SOLOMON – son of Batsheva and King David
YOAV – a General.
All actors are PLAYERS, most enact several roles. The roles are assigned as follows:
PLAYER ONE: METATRON
PLAYER TWO: ADAM
PLAYER THREE: SAMUEL/URIAH
PLAYER FOUR: DAVID/SOLOMON
PLAYER FIVE: SAUL/DAVID (older David, middle Act Two)
PLAYER SIX: MICHAL/TAMAR
PLAYER SEVEN: GOLIATH/YOAV
PLAYER EIGHT: JONATHAN/ABSALOM
PLAYER NINE: GOLIATH’s MOTHER/BATSHEVA
PLAYER TEN: SERVANT/AMNON/NATHAN
Oh, and here’s a fun little Facebook page about our upcoming preview week. Check in out!