Amazon's streaming series Transparent is headed to the stage via Los Angeles' Center Theatre Group. The world premiere of A Transparent Musical will take the Mark Taper Forum stage May 20–June 25, with opening night set for May 31. The new work features a book by MJ Kaufman (Jagged Little Pill) and series creator Joey Soloway and a score by Faith Soloway. Tina Landau is directing with choreography by James Alsop.
As rehearsals begin, Landau is reflecting on why the world needs a Transparent musical, poised to become one of just a handful of musicals to be adapted from TV series. As she writes, the reason is horrifyingly easy to see.
"On every show I direct I might ask why," shares Landau. "I always start with why and why now, and I have a little exercise I do where I imagine myself getting up in front of an audience and standing on the edge of the stage and explain myself. So, why I am asking this many people to spend their money and give up their time and turn over their attention to this story. And I ask why for me personally. And I also ask why in terms of a theatre, like how can I justify having so many people work on this, put their hearts and souls into it have a theatre [spend] so much money on something when there's so much need in the world? And I just make sure I can answer that. On this show at this moment, I didn't even have to ask this morning when I was thinking about it. And I think that’s the first time I’ve ever felt that. I make sure that my reasoning and my justification of my purposes is here and strong enough. Because they will have to withstand what we all know happens in rehearsal process, doubt and self-doubt, and tension, stress and criticism, and pain and despair. And you know, so like those bellwethers need to be so clear and known to me because I have to like, go home and remember it. So wonderfully and sadly on this show at this moment, I didn't even have to do the exercises … the answer is so obvious and felt for me right now.
"And the answers have changed for me in the five years or so. … It centers and celebrates Jewish people. It depicts family in a way that is relatable and that offers a path towards compassion and healing in our own families. It offers a vision of a possible world that's more inclusive and more loving, and more fluid. Those all remain true for me. But as we know, it is really amazing times, how times have changed, and so my perspective. Another reason has taken precedence and it's one that I've not needed to search for… And you probably all know where I'm going with this, which is the past is not past. Once again, in human history, although it surely never actually stopped being true, lives are being attacked, and people are in danger.
"So, I wrote down here: the past has not passed, and we must sing that and shout that and stand up and stand proud and put our precious and vulnerable souls and bodies before an audience and say you're here, we are queer. We are deviant. We are different, and isn't that wonderful and miraculous and something to sing and dance about? Just as in the show. We are putting on a show that is also a party and a protest. That’s what we’re doing. This takes courage."
Go inside the first rehearsal for A Transparent Musical below:
Leading the cast as Maura Pfefferman will be Daya Curley, starring alongside Adina Verson (Only Murders in the Building) as Ali Pfefferman, Liz Larsen (Beautiful) as Shelley Pfefferman, Zachary Prince (Honeymoon in Vegas) as Josh Pfefferman, Sarah Stiles (Tootsie) as Sarah Pfefferman, Kasper (Amina) as Ezra, Peppermint (RuPaul's Drag Race, Head Over Heels) as Davina, and Murphy Taylor Smith (Love in Hate Nation) as Rabbi Raquel. Also in the cast are Samora la Perdida, Justin Rivers, Futaba Shioda, Natalie Weiss, Robert Pieranunzi, Jimmy Ray Bennett, Pat Towne, and Dahlya Glick.
The four-season series following the Pfeffermans, a Jewish family living in Los Angeles, and their lives following Maura's self discovery of being a Trans woman, concluded with a musical film titled Transparent: Musicale Finale. The stage musical will tell a new story from the perspective of the youngest Pfefferman, Ali.
The production will feature scenic design by Adam Rigg, costume design by Toni-Leslie James, lighting design by Jen Schriever, sound design by Kai Harada, projection design by Yee Eun Nam, and wig design by Matthew Armentrout. The score will feature orchestrations by John Clancy, and Julie McBride serves as arranger, music director, and conductor. Casting is by The Telsey Company's Patrick Goodwin and Charlie Hano with additional casting by Michael Donovan Casting's Michael Donovan and Richie Ferris. David S. Franklin will be production stage manager.
Tickets are currently on sale at CenterTheatreGroup.org.