Something I wrote last year made it onto a Best of 2019 list! Thank you to WQXR and David Patrick Stearns for being a fan of our work and writing about it throughout the year. I’m honored to have been a part of this project and recognized with all the great writers who got to explore The Stonewall Riots in operatic form on this historic anniversary.
“Stonewall 50 operas: I saw five — the big one, in June, being New York City Opera’s Stonewall, created by composer Iain Bell, librettist Mark Campbell, and director Leonard Foglia. How can you not walk in with pre-conceived notions? Though expecting something treacly, I was completely swept up by it, and looking at the production photos now brings it all back, especially the shady Mafia-controlled culture of the West Village at that time. What also makes Stonewall fascinating is that nobody is all that clear about how the riots unfolded. The chaos — not to mention the partying that led up to it — means that this great historic occasion was incredibly murky. And with the four one-act operas produced by American Opera Projects, you also saw how gays were so low on the social totem pole that they had nothing to lose by fighting back.”
Baby Universe: A Puppet Odyssey, January 7, 2011 Wakka Wakka Productions at Baruch Performing Arts Center Wakka Wakka has become one of my favorite theater companies, and it all began with their production of Baby Universe in 2011. Both wildly innovative and incredibly emotional, the show used puppets to tell the tale of a government program to save the population of an unnamed, dying planet in a dying universe. I have since seen Wakka Wakka’s SAGA and Made in China, which were wonderful, but the expansiveness of Baby Universe eclipses them, and I still think back on that production as one of the most beautiful shows I’ve ever seen. It felt like these were puppets doing what they were born to do. Wakka Wakka doesn’t usually revive their shows in NYC, but I wish they’d bring back this one.
Last year I saw 65 shows, my lowest yet. This year I saw 89. I don’t know whether to congratulate myself for increasing my number by more than 20 and getting back to where I’d been in previous years or chastise myself for spending too much time at the theater and not enough on my own writing and other things. Last year I’d accepted the fact that I was now only going to be seeing 60-70 shows a year. However, last fall I was incredibly busy with my own shows, so I did miss a lot that I’d wanted to see. Would I rather see less and do my own writing and shows more? I don’t have an answer.
Well, I really stepped up my game this year. Last year I saw 5 movies, a new low, and that was with the streaming movies. This year I saw 15 movies in theaters! I’m really proud of myself for seeing more films and also proud of the movie industry for making and re-showing more films I want to see.
On Friday, October 25th, at 7pm, join me for Days of Rage in Concert at the beautiful Green Room 42 (42nd Street and 10th Avenue). Days of Rage has music and book by Hyeyoung Kim, with lyrics by me, and this concert will feature 14 of our beautiful and powerful songs. We’re so excited, and we hope you can be there.
My one-woman show, NOT COMING BACK, well, came back on September 16th at the Duplex Cabaret Theater. I perform the entire 60-minute show, which includes both original songs and a few songs from musicals and popular songs. I love working on and performing this show, which has music by seven composers that I’ve worked with: Gaby Alter, Eric Day, Rob Hartmann, Gregory Jacobs-Roseman, Hyeyoung Kim, Julia Meinwald, and Russell Stern. Each song has a different feel and yet is totally of the piece. I was also lucky to work again with my director Lori Steinberg and my music director Christopher D. Littlefield and an awesome band, 2/3 of which were able to return for this showing. Video clips are coming soon!
Renewable Energy is coming to the New York Musical Festival–in the form of the new musical Black Hole Wedding. In this satire of energy politics, a corrupt oil baron battles a shy geek and his fiancé in the face of a large and powerful black hole. I talked to writers Katherine Brann Fredricks (words) and Paul E. Nelson (music) about musicalizing a black hole, researching and writing about a chicken bone fuel generator and an electronic sniffer, and why you shouldn’t call this a sci-fi musical.
Shoshana Greenberg: Where did this idea come from?
Katherine Fredricks: Paul wanted to do an office musical, something set in an office. He mentioned Dilbert, and I said, ‘Yeah, but we don’t have the rights to that.’ And so we were talking, and he said something about a black hole trash compactor, and I just fell over laughing. And so we were like, we have no idea what the show is, we have no clue, but yes, we’re writing something about a black hole trash compactor.
Paul Nelson: My original idea, because I’ve started a couple of companies, was to have the world’s worst start-up company make a black hole trash compactor, and because the company’s so dysfunctional they threaten the entire earth. That was the genesis of the idea. It ended up going in a much more political direction, appropriately, I think. It was an interesting blend of both of our ideas.
I’m so excited to have been involved in this program! My 30-minute opera with composer Kevin Cummines goes up this Saturday, May 18th, with additional performances on May 19th and May 20th at the Stonewall Inn itself.
There are four half-hour long mini-operas inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots will making their world premiere at NYU’s Shubert Theatre and the Stonewall Inn. The four operas performed will conclude NYU’s Stonewall at 50 Series, a collection of panels, performances, events, and discussions commemorating the riots and their legacy.
Our opera is called “The Community,” and it is directed by I-Chen Wang. It’s 400 years in the future, and humanity has rebuilt itself after an apocalyptic event that sent the survivors into another dark age. The only artifact they have from the previous civilization is a book on the history of the Stonewall Uprising. A madcap dystopian comedy that asks, what happens when a society is built on the story of Stonewall and what happens when someone wants to deviate from the norms?