Swimming in the Dark
Martin Hennessy and I have obtained the exclusive Underlying Musical Opera Adaptation rights to Swimming in the Dark by Tomasz Jedrowski, named a Best Book of 2020 by NPR and Oprah Magazine’s list of LGBTQ fiction that will change the literary landscape. It was a Daily Express Best Book of 2020 and a Guardian Best Book of the Year 2020 Pick. The book was long listed for the Historical Writers’ Association Crown Award for 2020 and was a finalist for the Polari First Book Prize for 2021.
Set in Poland in the early 1980’s during the decline of the Communist Republic, the opera adaptation will be a tender and passionate love story of two young men who eventually find themselves on opposite side of the the political divide. The steel grey shadows of Warsaw are the backdrop for a gripping adventure of Cold War intrigue while luminous scenes of homoerotic love play out in the lush Polish countrywide. Filled with informers, opportunists and those who dream of a life in the West, the story of Ludwik & Janusz, bound by their love for James Baldwin’s seminal novel, Giovanni’s Room, evokes a nostalgia for Poland that “could be” while bringing to life the struggles of two individuals trapped in a stultifying, corrupt bureaucratic state and the difficult decisions each makes to survive.
A Thousand Splendid Suns (2023)
Seattle Opera has set the World Premiere for February, 2023 at McCaw Hall in Seattle, WA.
Arte Studio (2022)
I have been offered a writing residency for the month of October, 2022 in Assisi, Italy and will be developing a libretto for a new opera.
The Pleasing Recollection (2022)
Martin and I have created a “Cabaret Opera for Baritone & Piano.” It was workshopped at the National Opera Center in September, 2021 starring the amazing singer Michael Kelly with musical direction through the flawless fingers of Benedicte Jourdois. The stage director is my dear friend & colleague Murphy Davis. The Cabaret Opera had its South Florida premiere at the Helmerich Theaters in Key West and its New York premiere at Feinstein’s 54 Below in April, 2022. Upcoming shows are at Whyte Hall, Fire Island Pines on Memorial Day Weekend and at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg, FL in June as an official “St. Pete Pride” offering.
The 65-minute story-in-song recalls a series of youthful experiences I had early in my performing arts career, when I was a student at New York University, through my mid-20’s working in piano bars & then as a studio musician and rehearsal pianist. Along the way I met some notable figures in music & theater as I negotiated the journey. Set in the mid-1970’s through the early 1980’s it was both an extraordinary but dangerous time to be in New York.
An Incident in Sutton Square (April, 2021)
A new production of Martin and my opera-theater monologue as part of a four short operas program reimagined for the World’s Fair Park Amphitheater in Knoxville, TN
Tandy Talks Tennessee (March, 2021)
As an Artistic Associate of the Tennessee Williams Key West Museum I produce an event each March as part of the month-long celebration of Tennessee Williams Birthday. This year I sit down with Tandy Cronyn, actor and daughter of Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn who both were influential figures in the life of Tennessee Williams.
West Side Story: A Cultural Perspective on an American Tragedy with Stephen Kitsakos
ONLINE WORKSHOP: 3 MONDAYS APR 12-26, 4-5:30PM EST
Is it racism that precipitated the tragedy in West Side Story and not just miscommunication as in Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet? How does the marginalization of outsiders keep repeating itself in the story of America? How did four gay men: Bernstein, Sondheim, Laurents & Robbins create a musical which captures the universality of the immigrant experience and provide the basis for racial conflict in mid-20th century urban life?