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a moment on the way to the bright lights.
by Peter Link
Lyrics by Joe Bravaco & Larry
Book by Larry Rossler
Check out Sundown's official website:
eight men faced off on a dusty street in Tombstone, Arizona,
1881, they had no idea that their fight would launch them
into legend. The Gunfight at the OK Corral lasted less than
sixty seconds. But those fleeting moments grew rapidly into
an American myth, one that informs our national character
to this day, SUNDOWN explores the myth and the men who unwittingly
formed it: the Earps, the Clantons, the McLaurys, and the
unlikely outlaw known as Doc Holliday. His story is an American
romance - the romance of the gun. Sundown tells the story
of Doc Holliday, the notorious gambler and gunfighter, and
his fateful meeting with Wyatt Earp in Tombstone, Arizona.
larger than life figures play a part in one of the most
compelling legends of the American West -- the Gunfight
at the OK Corral. However, Sundown takes another look
at the legend in a musical that's filled with poignancy
and humor. Here, Doc Holliday is seen as a modern man
struggling to reform but making all the wrong choices.
Then, just when he finds the one good thing in his life,
an intriguing woman known as Cattle Kate, he discovers
that time has run out and, perhaps, his fate had long
ago been sealed. The musical was developed in workshops at ASCAP and the York Theatre
in Manhattan and received it's world premier at Lyric Stage
to Peter Filichia, theatre critic of New Jersey's premier
paper, the Star Ledger, and internet columnist for Theatremania.com,
the lively country-based score is Link's best work.
Music from the Sundown Studio Cast CD
on links below to listen to samples of the music:
sung by Steve Blanchard and men's chorus
sung by Judy McLane
We Ain't Never
Had It So Good
sung by Joe Lutton, Bob Aronson, Jeffrey Wolf and Peter Link
One More Drink
sung by Joe Lutton, Judy McLane and men
sung by the entire cast
sung by Dennis Deal, Jimmy Bennet and Patrick Ryan Sullivan
sung by Judy McLane
The Rest Of My Life
sung by Steve Blanchard
with Patrick Ryan Sullivan
sung by Steve Blanchard
with Julia Wade
& Steve Blanchard
From The ASCAP Workshop:
" We are accustomed in westerns to having good guys and bad guys. There's
Marshall Dillon, who's keeping law in town, and then there are the bad guys."
"Here you have a show where everybody's behavior is extremely morally ambiguous.
They are all bad guys. The guy who's the sheriff two seconds ago is planning
to hit the stage. There is something interesting about that. It is an asset because
it makes it more true to life, more adult. Moral ambiguity is very interesting.
The music is terrific. It's nice to hear theater music written around a guitar.
It's very refreshing. What you have here is something that is clearly a tuneful
show in a place and time. It's a fresh thing to do for the musical theater. It
feels fresh, musically, for the genre. You have compelling characters. You are
already far ahead of the game. You guys are skilled at doing this."
SCHWARTZ (Academy Award winning composer/lyricist):
of all, I can tell you that I'm delighted with what I heard.
I'm really intrigued by what you're doing. I happen to
be immensely fond of westerns. Like the musical, this is
an American art form. There's something very exciting about
any musical that's a western. You have many elements in
place. You have beautiful songs. 'Sundown' is haunting,
'Bridges' the same. You've got your key songs, your boisterous
songs, songs that reflect the people. I look forward to
hearing this show in some form when you present it again.
I would pay top dollar to see the show. Snatch victory
from the jaws of victory."
(Tony Award winning composer/lyricist):
"The score and book are excellent. You need a worthy regional theatre to
salute this play and give it a full production."
TED TULCHIN (Produced the
Pulitzer Prize winning play Dinner With Friends)
CLASSIC HITS THE MARK AS MUSICAL "Ah, the joys of live
theater: the roar of the crowd, the smell of the greasepaint
and the gunsmoke ... In Sundown, authors Joe Bravaco and Larry
Rosler focus on John 'Doc' Holliday, the Baltimore dentist
who moved to Arizona for his health and became a legendary
gunfighter. His saga works well as a musical, Doc himself being
worthy of an opera".
PERRY STEWART / Special
to the Star-Telegram -- Dallas
COMBINES GRIT AND BEAUTY
"This show stands head and shoulders above any western-type musical I can
remember, including such a favorite as Oklahoma. Actually, to compare Sundown
to other western musicals is probably unfair to all. Sundown, although containing
singing, dancing, and some pretty funny bits, has a gritty, almost morbid reality
to it that befits its subject, a shootout more of an ambush, really that resulted
in the immediate deaths of three men, the severe wounding of two more, and, probably,
the final curtain call on what we today know as The Old West. This play has several
fantastic songs, probably the best of which is the first: Arizona Morning sung
by Holliday (Hardy) and the ensemble. Other notable numbers include We Aint Never
Had It So Good, Politickin, Bridges, sung by Kate, and Another Time, by Kate
ROBERT McKINNEY / Bristol Herald
end result is another artistic gem of a production. From the
opening act number of foreshadowing, to the cryptic and dark
ending of Act One, to the tour de force Act Two that has the
elements of blocking, vision, costume, lighting, set, and cast
that is just breath taking. Take my word, from the beginning
number "Poisoned Water" to the end, it is magical
theater at its finest!"
JOHN GARCIA / The Column --
TALE, TUNES FLY AT OK CORRAL
“Sundown” corrals some great songs
Shootout makes bang up musical
Sundown has some great songs. In fact, Peter Link's score may be Lyric
Stage's strongest discovery to date."
LAWSON TAITTE / The Dallas
pictures from The Barter Theater, Abingdon, VA
GREAT TALE, TUNES FLY AT OK
CORRAL LAWSON TAITTE
(The Dallas Morning News)
- These days, you don't have to have great songs to make a
musical – just look at The Producers. The essential thing
is a strong story, well told. On Saturday, Irving's company
devoted to new or seldom-performed musicals opened Sundown,
its ninth world premiere in the last six years. Sundown has
some great songs. In fact, Peter Link's score may be Lyric
Stage's strongest discovery to date.
Fortunately, it also has one of the best stories from the Old West, the
gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Ariz. Joe Bravaco and Larry Rosler
have compressed it into a manageable package for the theater, and Mr.
Rosler's lyrics, though seldom memorable in their own right, push the
Doc Holliday (played by Kevin Varner)
occupies center stage in this telling. As the curtain
rises, Doc has decided to give up gambling and return
to his native Baltimore. But his old pals the Earp brothers
show up and lure him into staying – even after
he has met a woman he wants to take back East (Gina Biancardi).
For the first half-hour, Sundown inspires fear that it's one of those
competent musicals that don't give their characters reason to sing rather
than talk (like Broadway's current Sweet Smell of Success. The device
of having a woman in black(Candace Evans) represent Doc's obsession with
death doesn't quite work either.
By the time the fifth of the 17 songs rolls around, all doubts are banished.
The second half of the first act provides one good tune after another,
especially the title number right before intermission.
It helps that director Cheryl Denson
has cast the show perfectly. Each of the actors in the
three rival families has an individual look, moves comfortably
and can sing. Steve Barcus plays Wyatt Earp as a bantam
cock out for glory.
Sundown is really Mr. Varner and Ms. Biancardi's show, though. This role
establishes her among our top musical leading ladies, even though the
script's motivations are sometimes far-fetched and the performer's hairdo
is way out of period. Mr. Varner is terrific in his big moments, attacking
his song "Sundown" with emotional power and fine pipes. He
doesn't always look comfortable when just standing around, though.
A week or two more of rehearsals would probably have solved that problem.
It might have given the designers and technical staff time to polish
up some things like some crude lighting cues. Giva Taylor's costumes,
though, look perfect and establish a new standard for Lyric Stage.
WESTERN CLASSIC HITS THE MARK AS MUSICAL
Posted on Mon, Apr. 22, 2002
By PERRY STEWART
Special to the Star-Telegram
IRVING - Ah, the joys of live theater: the roar of the crowd, the smell
of the greasepaint and the gunsmoke ...Yep, gunsmoke. The actors
at Lyric Stage are packing real six-shooters. That's only fitting
for a new musical that climaxes with the gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
In Sundown, authors Joe Bravaco and Larry Rosler focus on John "Doc" Holliday,
the Baltimore dentist who moved to Arizona for his health and became
a legendary gunfighter. His saga works well as a musical, Doc
himself being worthy of an opera.
The best singers in producer Steven Jones' premiere staging are Kevin
Varner as Doc and Gina Biancardi as a version of Katie Elder. Recall
Biancardi's maternal figure in Allegro and you'll appreciate her acting
stretch here as a bawdy belle always ready for One More Drink. That number
leads to a hangover of Olympic scope, and Biancardi plays it down and
dirty. She fires the show's first big solo salvo on Bridges, tops herself
with Prisoner, then joins Varner on the soaring Another Time. Bradley
Campbell is both menacing and comical as Ike Clanton, accustomed to calling
the shots in Tombstone.
When the U.S. marshal, Virgil Earp,
installs his brother Wyatt as sheriff, the Clanton clan
regards that as a Fly in the Ointment. Steve Barcus is
a peppery, revisionist Wyatt Earp. Candace Evans is compelling
in one of the script's better twists: an elegantly sexy
Grim Reaper. Jon Morehouse is charmingly droll. And Chip
Wood is solid as an evil Clanton henchman - this despite
an opening-night mishap that this actor will probably
remember as The Holster From Hell. Cheryl Denson directs
with a feel for pacing and an eye for the heroic tableau,
which designers Susan A. White and Wade Giampa achieve.
Musical director Nyela Basney's small combo can't do
justice to Peter Link's score. (A fiddle would work wonders.)
WORLD PREMIERE SUNDOWN**
John Garcia's THE COLUMN
April 23, 2002
**Reviewed 04-20-02 performance
new laurels and accolades can we bestow on Lyric Stage that
hasn't already been said? Lyric Stage is the only theater company
in Texas that has the bulk of their productions mounted that
are totally fresh and new, never to have been produced before.
Now, while the company does produced off and on a well known
show,(past titles include Gypsy & Brigadoon), they primarily
produced brand new musicals. This makes any musical theater
fan (both in the audience and on stage) yelp with glee! Lyric
Stage has brought to life some of the finest musical theater
productions to its audiences. Some of these include Richard
Cory and Abyissina. The company has now even ventured into
New York with co-producing with the York Theater Company the
musical Roadside, which we metroplex audiences had first dibs
to see when it was produced here earlier this season.
Lyric Stage this time around presents
the world premiere of the new musical, Sundown, which
centers around Doc Holliday and that well known shootout
at the OK Corral. I must confess that I am not a huge
fan of those John Wayne western films, to the point that
I really haven't seen that many films dealing with cowboys,
gunslingers, and the such. So I walked into the Dupree
theater really not knowing a lot about Holliday and the
OK battle. While this is quite a different subject to
write a musical around, there have been stranger subjects.
I mean take a gander at past broadway musicals, they
went way out there once and brought to life a musical
about Carrie! So why not Doc Holliday?! It was quite
interesting to know that Holliday wanted to leave Tombstone,Arizona
to become a Dental doctor, only to be sidelined by the
Earp Brothers into staying in town for a little longer.
Director Cheryl Denson continues to take artistic risks and has not once
dropped the ball! She is assigned constantly new or hardly ever produced
musicals and the end result is another artistic gem of a production.
Denson has a grand eye for visual enhancement to the emotion of the piece
that she is working on, and in Sundown you see it.
From the opening act number of
foreshadowing, to the cryptic and dark ending of Act
one, to the tour de force Act Two that has the elements
of blocking, vision, costume, lighting, set, and cast
that is just breath taking. Take my word, from the number "Poisoned
Water" to the end, it is magical theater at its
One of the best elements of the production is the score itself. There
are nineteen songs interspread within the book, and they are both powerful
and beautifully written pieces of music. The score's best moments come
from the solos sung throughout the evening.But Peter Link's score does
for the most hit great emotional arch and the music coming from the orchestra
pit (conducted again by the marvelous Nyela Basney) is both impressive
and exquisite. Easily the best ensemble number of the evening is "Poisoned
Water", with its lush harmonies of the singers and the commitment
of the entire cast on understanding the emotion of the number is wonderful
to both see and hear. Link's strongest work is in the majestic solos
for various characters. Some of my favorite arias included, "Arizona
Morning", "The Rest of My Life", "Bridges", "Sundown", "Prisoner", "Men
Aint What They Used to Be", and the haunting "Another Time".
Each of these solos are gold nuggets! The music written for them is moving,
with a light air of country & western mixed in with a light dusting
of pop/rock overtones. I wished though that the character "Woman
in Black" had a solo of her own. The character truly begs for one.
It takes awhile to realize that the character is the Angel of Death,
but she has not one song to establish her purpose or reason within the
plot. Which is too bad, because I honestly think this is a great idea
of having this character in the piece.
Gina Biancardi is both tough and loving as "Kate", she is divine!
As for the kudos to the best performances of the evening, those would
belong to Kevin Varner (Doc Holliday) and Steve Barcus (Wyatt Earp).
The book, score, and characters all circle around one major character-that
of Doc Holliday, which is performed here with brilliance by Kevin Varner.Varner
also has the best songs of the evening to sing. From the light and airy "Arizona
Morning"; to the fun and festive up-tempo "The Rest of My Life";
to the tour de force and deeply emotional act one finale, "Sundown".
The actor sings with passion and gives total commitment to his character.
As you may remember, Wyatt was quite ill, thus Varner brings this element
as well to the table. His harsh coughing and wheezing is extremely realistic
and gives his Act one and Act two finales great subtext. Varner is magnificent
in the role.
The cast and director are greatly aided by the creative design team as
well. Giva Taylor and Susan Mayes' costumes are perfect in period and
detail. Susan A. White's lighting design could rival any broadway production!
Her design of creating "emotional color" is to be admired greatly.
Her design of Act two 's battle at the OK Corral is worth the price of
admission alone! I loved it!Wade Giampa's set involves platforms and
two major turntables on either side of the stage. The sets are designed
with authenticity and are painted to reflect sun burned ,worn out wood
that actually looks like these buildings have been sitting out in the
hot, western sun for years. Not many cities in the United States have
theater companies that produced new musicals from scratch. New York has
Encores, Los Angeles has Reprise, both are companies that do new or hardly
ever seen musicals. We are indeed VERY lucky to have our very own such
company right here in Dallas! Lyric Stage is currently in its ninth season,
and with productions like SUNDOWN, they will be here for another ten
years! And for that, both audiences and our metroplex artistic family
are very fortunate to have.
SUNDOWN COMBINES GRIT AND BEAUTY
by Robert McKinney / BRISTOL HERALD COURIER
Barter Theatre has been selected for
the East Coast premier of Sundown, a wonderful new musical
drama that recounts the events leading up to the famous Gunfight
At The O.K. Corral, in October of 1881, the gunfight itself
that lasted all of 90 seconds, and a brief glance at the
legend it became. This show stands head and shoulders above
any western-type musical I can remember, including such a
favorite as Oklahoma. Actually, to compare Sundown to other
western musicals is probably unfair to all. Sundown, although
containing singing, dancing, and some pretty funny bits,
has a gritty, almost morbid reality to it that befits its
subject, a shootout more of an ambush, really that resulted
in the immediate deaths of three men, the severe wounding
of two more, and, probably, the final curtain call on what
we today know as The Old West.
The Barters own John Hardy plays Doc Holliday, the tubercular Georgia
dentist turned cardsharp, alleged Wells-Fargo stagecoach robber, and
ladies man. Hardy is perfectly cast as Holliday, a man keenly aware of
his own legend, yet grappling with the fact that he is dying of bloody
consumption. It is primarily from the viewpoint of Holliday that we see
the escalation into violence of what amounted, some historians believe,
to little more than an ongoing feud between two rival groups, the Earp
brothers, Morgan, Virgil, and Wyatt, along with Doc Holliday, and their
rivals consisting primarily of Billy and Ike Clanton and Frank and Tom
McLaury. The truth about who was in the right, if anybody probably nobody;
who fired first; and whether justice or vengeance was served has long
ago blown away in the dusty Arizona wind. Even at the time few people
agreed whether Wyatt Earp, who had been briefly the sheriff of Tombstone,
was an upstanding citizen defending the town against a marauding gang
or if he was, in fact, little better than the gang himself. This is not
a story about saints.
Derek Davidson plays Wyatt Earp,
Chris Ross plays Morgan Earp, and John Hedges plays Virgil
Earp. Dressed all in black, the Earps and Doc Holliday,
very nicely counter play the good guys cliques, while
the Clantons and McLaurys, supposedly the bad guys, look
far less sinister. Mike Ostroski plays Billy Clanton,
Eugene Wolf plays Ike Clanton, Peter Yonka plays Frank
McLaury, and JJ Musgrove plays Tom McLaury. Nicholas
Piper, whose absence from Barter casts has been noted
for the past couple of years, is back as John Behan,
a friend of the Clantons and McLaurys, who was the sheriff
of Tombstone at the time of the famous shootout. Piper
is a fine and versatile actor and it is good to have
him home. Docs girlfriend, Kate Fisher, known as Big
Nose Kate, is played by Kathryn Foster, a beautiful newcomer
to the Barter stage. Her character, a drifting bar girl,
pickpocket, and sometimes prostitute, is nicely done
and believable. Finally, the magnificent Evalyn Baron
rounds out the cast as the Woman In Black or, if one
so chooses, Death. Her presence is felt throughout the
play, but in the end she has to wait for the dramas two
principals Wyatt Earp and Holliday. Earp would live into
a ripe old age in California as a real estate speculator
and Holliday would live at least a dozen more years before
finally dying in a sanitarium in Colorado.
play has several fantastic songs, probably the best of which
is the first: Arizona Morning sung by Holliday (Hardy) and
the ensemble. Other notable numbers include We Aint Never Had
It So Good, Politickin, Bridges, sung by Kate, and Another
Time, by Kate and Doc. This is a play that seems particularly
well cast. The set, while simple, works wonderfully. And all
the other stuff such as sound, lighting, etc. is, of course,
up to the Barters usual high standards. Richard Rose directs
and choreographed. William Perry Morgan leads the live four-piece
Sundown had its world premier in
Irving, Texas, at the Lyric Stage. The music is by Peter
Link with lyrics by Larry Rosler. The book is by Joe
Bravaco and Larry Rosler. If youd like to read a bit
more about the history of the shootout at the O.K. Corral
and the bad blood between the Earps, the Clantons, and
the McLaurys, a good Internet site is www.jcs-group.com/oldwest/towns/okcorral.html.
This site gives an 11-page history. Checking out this
site makes Sundown much more enjoyable. I do have a warning,
however, and it is an important one to note. This play
contains quite a bit of pretty realistic gunfire and
it gets quite noisy. Several times members of the cast
point their weapons (pistols and one double-barreled
shotgun) in the direction of the audience. They are not
shooting toward the audience or at the audience, but
just the fact of having a firearm, even a harmless stage
firearm, pointed in my direction is a bit unnerving.
And, please understand, I like guns, own guns, and have
shot guns all my life, including in the military. For
those among us, however, who only know firearms from
their movie or television depictioneither in shows or
on the newssuch gunplay might cause some deal of discomfort.
You are, of course, certainly never in any danger and,
by the time you read this the choreography will probably
be a bit revised to reduce the illusion of such. This
warning is not meant to keep you from attending a great
musical play and I hope it doesnt. Just go advised that
there is gunplay and it is fairly realistic. Sundown
runs through May 17 on the Barter Mainstage. For times,
dates, and reservations, call the Box Office at 276-628-3991
or visit Barter online at www.bartertheatre.com.
OF SUNDOWN, BARTER THEATRE
By Warren M. Harris / WASHINGTON COUNTY NEWS
SUBMITTED MARCH 17, 2003
The Barter Theatre’s currently running East Coast premiere of the
musical play Sundown is a rollicking, tuneful re-telling of the Old-West
tale of the gunfight at the OK Corral. The challenge of this enterprise
is to bring a fresh and engaging approach to a story so well-known as
to have become a part of mythic Americana. Joe Bravaco and Larry Rosler’s
script, Peter Link and Rosler’s songs, and Richard Rose’s
staging succeed in doing so by borrowing from several models in roughly
equal parts: the traditional stage musical, the ancient Greek myth, the
Western movie, and a Bud Light commercial.
in all good musicals, the songs consistently entertain, illuminate
character, and advance the story. With a cast of nine men and
only two women, there is, predictably, quite a bit of "rousing" male
singing. But Kathryn Foster (as Kate Fisher) uses a rich, country-style
voice in her solo opportunities to create some of the show’s
most moving and powerful moments. Musical Director Wm. Perry
Morgan effectively creates a Western atmosphere with guitar
and piano. But I did miss the pleasure of being able to see
the musicians, either on stage or in the pit. Sundown retells
the events which occurred in Tombstone, Arizona, in 1881, not
as history, but as myth, and that with an original twist.
Earp becomes a largely comic figure – drunken and infantile.
Derek Davidson in this role effectively amuses with wild eyes,
lunging movements, and whiny snarls. Sundown’s hero is
the multi-dimensional character of Doc Holliday, played with
riveting intensity by John Hardy. Holliday finds himself, like
a Wild-West Sisyphus, caught in a cruelly ironic situation,
and Hardy exploits his character’s introspective frame
of mind with impressive dramatic and musical performances,
including a hard-edged, thoroughly engrossing rendition of
the title song at the end of Act One. From the B-Western movie,
Sundown borrows several stock supporting characters. Each of
the bad-guy members of the Clanton gang has his shtick -- one
is wily, one is naïve, one is hot-headed. The (relatively)
good guys, Wyatt Earp and his brothers, are likewise stereotypical,
as are the weak-kneed sheriff and the cynical saloon temptress.
Western film format contributes visual elements as well. Cheri
Prough DeVol’s open stage design with movable set pieces
features Arizona colors and a nicely rendered background projection
representing a Western street. And (not surprisingly, given
the show’s title) there is at times a beautiful sunset
of the sort into which horse-opera heroes frequently disappear.
Amanda Aldridge’s notable 1880’s costumes feature
long overcoats, frock coats, gun belts, holsters, and a couple
sets of clanking spurs, items normally only seen at one remove
on TV or the silver screen. And yet another reminder of the
cowboy pictures is a generous use of gunfire from ubiquitous
pistols. Finally, by my reference to the model of a Bud Light
commercial, I mean that a sly, roguish humor energizes the
dialogue and action of most scenes. A significant part of the
fun resides in Rose’s choreography. It has just enough
comic bravado and rowdiness to make it a credible employment
for the he-man gunslingers who largely people Sundown. For
example, one of the dance numbers features pistol-twirling,
and another uses the gunfighting cowboy’s distinctive
leg twitches to excellent comic effect.
There may of course be legitimate moral reservations about legends of
the Old West in which problems are solved with six-shooters. But
at least for me, the high theatricalism and the overlay of humor
largely excuse Sundown from the world of ethical discourse and make
it an enjoyable musical variation on an archetypal story.
by Peter Link
Lyrics by Jacob Brackman
Book by Steve Tesich
New York Times
" Now at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, King of Hearts is about the
need for love, frivolity and grandeur. Simplicity and intimacy are recaptured
with affection, authenticity and focus. The musical is pure romantic escape – into
fantasy and into the fantastic…a celebratory rite of love’s redemptive
power. Mr. Link’s music is a fusion of classical chorales, down-home American
country style, French music hall and Viennese waltzes… Whatever may sound
derivative dissolves into the ephemera of real charm and enchantment. It is worth
Brief History of King Of Hearts
by Peter Link
follows is a brief history and some random thoughts about
KING OF HEARTS written originally by composer Peter Link
in 1980 and updated in 2003:
KING OF HEARTS has always been more than just another musical for me.
Since I first saw the film some years ago it has been more of an
obsession. When the movie was over, I sat dumbfounded in the theatre
in awe of the story and the incredible possibilities it held for
a new musical.
evolution of KING OF HEARTS has included many productions.
Each one has been somewhat different in its own way but each
one has always had at its center one major similarity -- love.
discovered that A.J. Antoon, a brilliant young American
stage director, was also very interested in adapting KING
OF HEARTS for the musical stage. We spent six months trying
to get the rights since KING OF HEARTS was a French film.
At that time there were at least ten other producers around
the world fighting for the same rights. I had fallen in
love with this story and we both had become very excited
about the possibilities of the project, so the thought
of losing the rights to someone else was a most difficult
prospect to face. Consequently we both went to Paris, wined
and dined Phillippe DeBroca, the director of the film,
for a solid week, bowled him over with our enthusiasm,
and came home with the bacon.
never forget the flight home. We were both so overjoyed we
celebrated like crazy people all the way to Kennedy International.The
first collaboration and the greatest creative period took
place over three years beginning in 1976. A.J. Antoon and
I brought together a book writer and lyricist, Steve Tesich
and Jacob Brackman, and together we began a work process
that was many times crazier than the show itself.
Tesich was then a little known Yugoslavian playwright who had
had several plays successfully produced at the American Place
Theatre in New York. Since then his career has blossomed. He
won the Oscar for his screenplay for BREAKING AWAY. We found
Jacob Brackman by reading the backs of Carly Simon record album
covers. I had always loved her lyrics and found much to my
surprise that Jacob Brackman had written quite a few of the
better ones. Jacob too is a screenwriter of some repute having
written KING OF MARVIN GARDENS with Jack Nicholson and TIMES
did I know that I already had started one of the craziest
experiences of my life. We spent three years working --
casting, writing, exploring, and developing KING OF HEARTS.
In that time I think I had one of the most intensely creative
periods of my life. To search the hearts of these lovable
people every day for three years gave me a rare insight
into the ways of lunacy. And the play's theme, "Who's
really crazy?", struck home in countless fashions. My
father fought in World War I in France in the trenches.
I had long detailed discussions with him about his experiences.
I went to several asylums to work with the inmates and
learned much from them. I studied French classical and
folk music, listened to all the pop war songs of the day
and to a great deal of the classical music of the age.
spent two years, three of four days a week, five or six hours
a day, in deep discussion about the ramifications of every
little scene, song, note, word and lyric. These meetings were
the pure joy of the experience -- and they were full of creativity,
laughs, tears, revelations, and yes, some fights too. But they
were the epitome of theatrical collaboration and I must say
they were probably the best times I ever had with KING OF HEARTS.
In the course of that time, Jake and I wrote fifty or sixty
songs together which we either threw out, rewrote and then
threw out, or rewrote, rewrote again and then kept. I think
CLOSE UPON THE HOUR is probably the only song in the show that
was begun and finished in two days. On the first day I wrote
the melody, gave it to Jake that night, and he gave it back
to me the next day with a beautiful lyric. Not a word or note
was ever changed.
that's not always how it was. I say "fortunately" because
the joy of my work often comes in the rewriting, the thickening,
the deepening. That is when the great collaborative process
of the theatre really takes shape -- when you play a new song
for the other guys and they come back at you with thirty great
new ideas and then you try to decide how to combine them all
into one poor little melody or song.
OF HEARTS first opened at the Westport County Playhouse
where it had a two week run and starred Robbie Benson.
I'd say the show was about seventy-five percent there.
The first act went like gangbusters and the second act
fell a little short. But all in all it was a very good
learning experience for everyone. We had a good idea of
where to take it after that in terms of revisions. At that
point Joe Kipness, a wonderful man, decided to produce
it on Broadway and then the downfall began.
always thought that what happens in the play happened to
the play. The outside world came in with their money and
machines and worldly ways and brought them with untold confusion.
Antoon, my dear friend and partner, was fired and replaced
by a director who never really understood the piece. The
worst mistake came the day we contracted the Minskoff Theatre,
New York's second largest, as the place to showcase this
sweet, simple, little musical against the wishes of all the
artists involved. Money then seemed to dominate the decisions
and as is the case in most Broadway shows, money rules.During
our pre-Broadway tour, we opened in Boston with a new cast
to great reviews (in a smaller, more intimate house) and
tremendous audience reception. After a four week run we came
charging into New York City with a hit. The two weeks of
previews in New York went fabulously -- sold out and standing
ovations every night.
I had blind hope, I knew in my heart that we had troubles.The
sound in that big barn of a theatre was problematic and the
theatre was just too big -- we had resculptured the show to
fit the theatre and it was now coming off big and brassy. I
feared the worst and hoped for the best. And even though the
audiences laughed, cried, and cheered, we opened to mixed reviews
in the middle of a three month newspaper strike. Two million
bucks down the drain. And an incredible sadness in my heart.
The show ran another five weeks and gained each week. The story
and heart had somehow managed to shine through all the brassy
theatre owner had his own ideas about our survival. He kicked
us out in favor of THE ICE CAPADES. Now there was a show that
belonged in the Minskoff. It would have cost another hundred
thousand to move the KING, so it closed.Consequently the musical
like the film was destined to become a cult classic.
shows that are not successful on Broadway become resigned
to oblivion. In this case, the KING would not die.The
version offered now is the result of several productions
following the demise of the Broadway one. The major changes
occurred during a production at the Royal Lyceum in Edinburgh.
Most of the Broadway "improvements" were discarded
and it became again what it had begun as -- a labor of
are several basic themes that run through the play, e.g., anti-war,
the family against the world, and there have even been those
who have suggested that the play actually promotes insanity.
To me, it is simply a play about the innocence of love -- something
beyond what we achieve in our every day life. It speaks of
the joy of living in a simple time far removed from the real
craziness of the outside world.
By Peter Link
of Hearts" is a musical version of the wildly popular
movie by Philippe de Broca and, unless I miss my guess, de
Broca's Gallic whimsey is going to dazzle everyone in sight
all over again. Deep in the center of "King of Hearts," there
is something rare and pretty magical. The score by Peter
Link, to lyrics by Jacob Brackman, is rich and full and just
plain gorgeous, a marvel in its reach, in its moods, in its
borrowed Gallic vitality and in its World War I razzmatazz. "King
of Hearts" is going to be loved by a lot of people."
KEVIN KELLEY(Boston Globe
of Hearts' is aces in anyone's game
" King of Hearts" is a warm and charming tale."
by Bonnie Goldberg (Middletown Press)
'King of Hearts' at Goodspeed
" King of Hearts," now playing at the Goodspeed Opera House, overflows
with naive charm, joyous exuberance and hearttugging poignance."
by Phyllis S. Donovan (Record-Journal)
New York Times
Evening News (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Radio Review Transcript
Music Magazine Article
Mail From a Loving Father
Photos from The Goodspeed Opera
to lease KING OF HEARTS for your theatre:
and Lyrics by Peter Link
Book by Joe Bravaco and Larry Rosler
Concept by Brent Nicholson Earle
is a four character musical that takes place in Manchioneal,
Jamaica, at an idyllic beach house set in Paradise. An American
couple Michael and Carrie, return to the romantic setting
of their marriage vows to try to find their lost relationship
- lost in the confusion and stress of the modern day world
of New York City.
rekindle their off beat relation ship with a delightful and
extraordinary Jamaican couple, Sparks and Delia, who own
and rent out their beach house. Along the way they encounter
the Island "magic" of old Moses, a Jamaican shaman
who revolutionizes their way of thinking about their lives
and their marriage.
titles to play
Come Sail Away
I Paint De Boat
Start All Over
Joe Bravaco, with Larry Rosler, co-wrote the book for the Peter
Link musical Island, which was performed at the Portland Stage
Company. Mr. Bravaco is also the co-author of Break Point, produced
by the Source Theatre in Washington, DC, and the librettist of
The Flowering Thorn, a musical adaptation of The Picture of Dorian
Gray, which played at the Cubiculo Theatre in NYC. His one-act
play Matthew's Navigator is the winner of three national one-act
Larry Rosler is the editorial director of a children's publishing
house. As an actor, he toured in the National Company of Larry
Gelbart's Sly Fox, starring Jackie Gleason and Cleavon Little,
and appeared in the Kennedy Center production of Tina Howe's Museum.
Other credits include the Circle Rep production of A. R. Gurney's
Who Killed Richard Cory? and the Broadway production of David French's
Of the Fields.
For over thirty years Brent Nicholson Earle has been a contributing
member of the artistic community in New York City as an actor,
writer, stage manager, lecturer, archivist, photographer, optical
designer, curator and art gallery administrator. Throughout the
Seventies, Earle held many positions at the New York Shakespeare
Festival that included assisting the producer Joseph Papp and the
composer Peter Link on several productions at the Public Theater,
the Delacorte Theater in Central Park and the Vivian Beaumont Theater
at Lincoln Center. He also assisted Link on such Broadway productions
as THE GOOD DOCTOR, THE MIGHTY GENTS and KING OF HEARTS. He went
on to collaborate with Peter Link, developing two contemporary
musicals with him, ISLAND and ON THE ROAD TO BABYLON, which premiered
at the Milwaukee Repertory Theater Company in Wisconsin.
In spite of his diverse creative resume, Brent Nicholson
Earle is best known as an athlete, orator and
activist. He has been on
the front lines of the battle against AIDS since the onset of
the epidemic in the early Eighties. He is the
Founder and President
of The American Run for the End of AIDS (AREA), Inc., a not-for-profit,
all volunteer AIDS education and advocacy organization. From
March 1, 1986 to October 31, 1987, he ran more
than 9,000 miles around
the perimeter of the United States to raise awareness and funds
for the fight against AIDS.
musical treasure. A very special musical filled with
joy, hope and humor. Haunting music.
UNIQUE THEATRE - FritziCohen for Newscenter
billed as a musical flight, is an evening of some thought
and an abundance of rich and wonderful music. Exciting
theatre. Good fun and great music. Take this "MUSICAL
Brunswick Times Record
will love Island. Hightly enjoyable. Many fine tunes.
Overall, it's an excellent production, highly enjoyable.
WBLM, Portland ME
some finicky comments incumbent on a reviewer, Island
is the kind of rare theatrical treat we don't get nearly
Jane Lamb, Sweet Potato
better way to celebrate spring than a "MUSICAL FLIGHT" to
the Caribbean Islands? Island is not only excellent but highly
innovative as well. Sparks and Delia are so warm they steal our
hearts almost immediately. Charming wit. The book writers were
called in after its concert version in Millwaukee to make it
a theatre piece and they have come a long way toward success.
I was reminded of classics 110 In The Shade and Michael Weller's
Loose Ends. Link's music is extraordinarily soothing. His ballads
Donna Prizzi, Portland Press Herald.
more information on ISLAND, to obtain
a perusal script, a CD or a rental contract,
e-mail us at