The new musical features music, lyrics and book by the mother-and-son team of Kim Saunders and Heath Saunders (who co-stars in the show) with family member Trent Saunders (Aladdin) also in the cast. The company also includes David DeWitt (national tour of The Phantom of the Opera), Rose Hemingway (How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying), Andrea Jones-Sojola (Porgy and Bess) and Rachel Kara Perez (Latin Grammy-nominated singer/actress).
Newton’s Cradle, which is billed as “a musical journey into a young man’s unique world of autism,” marks Kim Saunders' first fully staged production after changing careers; she spent 30 years in the product marketing field.
“There are stories that need to be told to change the way human beings treat each other by helping us better understand the way labels shape, enable and sometimes destroy humanity,” she said of Newton’s Cradle. “We are trying to show one person’s experience of the world, not a picture of autism. The show questions when a label like autism is helpful and when it is not.”
“I was immediately struck by the piece’s originality and beauty and the fact that they had written it together over a period of years as mother and son,” said director Clark, who won her Tony for her performance in The Light in the Piazza, a musical she has also directed. “Their close collaboration, as family and as writers, moved me as did the story of a family all coming to a deeper understanding of one another in a cabin in Alaska. The themes of acceptance and forgiveness run very deep in Newton’s Cradle and I am thrilled to direct this piece for the New York Musical Festival.”
Newton’s Cradle, according to press notes, “explores what happens when the rules one lives by no longer apply. When Evan Newton brings his girlfriend to the family’s Alaska cabin to propose, her response sets him on an adventure to connect his past to the present. Evan’s journey takes theatergoers into his world of autism. Events aren’t sequential, labels get in the way and well-defined family relationships are anything but constant. The show challenges expectations about connection. It integrates a fast-moving story with a hypnotic electronic score to create a melodic picture of a very special brain.”
The production team also includes producer Robb Nannus, associate director and choreographer Sara Brians, Tara Rubin Casting, scenic designer Luke Cantarella, costume designer Maria Hooper, lighting designer Zach Blane, sound designer Quentin Chiappetta, stage manager Melanie T. Morgan and musical director Jesse Kissel.
Tickets, priced $27.50, are available online at nymf.org/tickets or by calling (212) 664-0979, ext. 26.
(Updated August 3, 2016)