Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik's Arms On Fire, Starring Natalie Mendoza, Giueseppe Jones, James Barry, Premieres
By Adam Hetrick
The world premiere of Arms On Fire, a new work by Tony Award-winning Spring Awakening writers Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater, begins performances June 26 at the Chester Theatre Company in the Berkshires. Natalie Mendoza, Giueseppe Jones and James Barry star.
Artistic director Byam Stevens directs Arms On Fire, which will run through July 7. The writers are hopeful for a continued life for the project beyond the Berkshire premiere.
The three-actor play, a fusion of music and memory, features Jones and Barry (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson on Broadway) as friends Ulysses and Smith, respectively, with Mendoza (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark) as nightclub singer Josephina.
Sater and Sheik previously workshopped the play at New York Stage & Film in 2010 under the title Umbrage. The work incorporates some ten songs by Sheik and Sater, including an unheard tune, "A Boat on the Sea," which Sater revealed to be the first song the two penned together. "We decided to save it and not put it on 'Phantom Moon,'" he said. "All these years the song has been in hiding." The writers may add additional musical material for the Chester production.
Here's how it's billed: "Ulysses, a factory worker in self-imposed exile, meets Smith, a young singer on the make. As Smith spins out dreams of his future, he also draws out Ulysses' past — memories of his lost love Josephina, a passionate nightclub singer. When Josephina appears, both men must face truths about the present. A deeply moving and funny play about an unlikely friendship."
The production has set design by Travis George, lighting design by Lara Dubin, costume design by charles Schoonmaker, sound design by Hunter H. Spoede and musical direction by Joe Belmont. Jason Hart is music consultant.
Musicians include Zack Cross, Rhees Williams, Joe Fitzpatrick and Joe Belmont.
The Chester Theatre Company's 2013 season also includes Karoline Leach's Tryst, Annie Baker's Body Awareness and Lisa Peterson and Denis O'Hare's An Iliad.
For tickets to the premiere of Arms On Fire, visit chestertheatre.org.
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