The Hunchback Variations Opera
This show was performed in Chicago at the
VICTORY GARDENS BIOGRAPH THEATER
January 25–March 11, 2012
Thursday-Saturday at 8pm
Sunday at 4pm.
And in New York City at
June 1 – July 1, 2012
The Hunchback Variations is “a moving meditation on collaboration and the creative process.” –Jack Helbig, Chicago Reader, on the play’s 2001 debut
“This is not the stuff of standard theater, much less standard opera. It is the stuff of an absurdist masterpiece.” —Chicago Stage Review’s Venus Zarris, on a 2011 workshop production of The Hunchback Variations Opera
That’s right. It’s happening. Theater Oobleck is doing its first opera.
“Cerebral, comic, and just plain weird,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2002) Mickle Maher‘s The Hunchback Variations (2001) has been one of the most successful productions in Oobleck’s 23-year history—presented to critical acclaim over the last decade in Chicago, St. Louis, Washington D.C., and Hamburg, Germany.
The Hunchback Variations takes the form of a panel discussion between Quasimodo, hunchback of Notre Dame, and Ludwig van Beethoven, composer, on their attempt to create a mysterious sound effect called for in Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. Playing out over 11 scenes, or “variations,” the story details the duo’s collaboration—one doomed by their mutual deafness, their unpleasant working conditions, and the fact that Beethoven has not yet finished reading the The Cherry Orchard.
A deft deconstruction of the creative process, and a fearless investigation of artistic collaboration, Hunchback is driven by questions about the nature of music and sound and performance. So, what could be more natural than to throw it fully – collaboratively!—into the embrace of music and sound and performance by giving it over to the wildly innovative mind of composer Mark Messing, the genius behind the scores of numerous Redmoon productions, and co-founder of the mad, brilliant marching band, Mucca Pazza?
With George Andrew Wolff (tenor) as Beethoven, Larry Adams (bass) as Quasimodo, Tim Lenihan on piano, and Paul Ghica on cello.
Lighting design by Chris Wooten. Stage Management by Melinda Evans. Graphic design by Colm O’Reilly. Photography by Jim Newberry.
Please direct all media requests for tickets, photos, etcetera to Publicist Martha Bayne
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts
*Quick ticket explanation: You can get your “more if you’ve got it, free if you’re broke” tickets (as per Theater Oobleck tradition) by calling the box office 773-871-3000. For on-line tickets, click on the link above, then click on the day you want. Then in the next screen you indicate how many tickets you want. Then in the NEXT screen you are given the option of a “Regular Price” (that would be $20), a $10, or a $1 ticket.
photo by Jim Newberry
Mark Messing is cofounder of Mucca Pazza, a 30 piece mobile orchestra/marching band and Opera-Matic which performs Lullaby Parades on bicycle powered floats in Chicago neighborhoods at twilight. Recently he wrote new music for the Tony Kushner translation of Mother Courage performed by the Bricklayers Theater, music for Chicago Children’s Theater’s The Houdini Box based on the book by Brian Selsnick and music for The Thief of Bagdad for The Ljubljana Puppet Theater. He has also composed for Redmoon, Lookingglass Theater, Walkabout Theater, Lucky Plush Dance Company, Shirley Mordine and Company, and for numerous independent films including The First Breath of Tengan Rei (2009) by Junko Kajino and Ed M. Koziarski.
photo by Kristin Basta
Mickle Maher is a cofounder of Chicago’s Theater Oobleck and the author of numerous plays, including An Apology for the Course and Outcome of Certain Events Delivered by Doctor John Faustus on This His Final Evening; The Hunchback Variations; The Strangerer; Spirits to Enforce; Cyrano (translator); The Cabinet; and Lady Madeline. His plays have appeared Off-Broadway and in numerous theaters around the world. He has been the recipient of a Creative Capital grant (for The Strangerer) and, recently, an NEA grant to for The Hunchback Variations Opera, and a MAP Fund grant (through Catastrophic Theatre) to write a play about a man with a talking hand. He currently teaches play writing and related subjects at the University of Chicago, and Columbia College. For the University of Chicago he is adapting Stanislavski’s An Actor Prepares for production at the university’s Logan Cultural Center in 2012. His plays are published by Hope and Nonthings.
Larry Adams – has worked in various musical styles throughout his career. He has performed a number of musical genres, including opera, musical theatre, pop and minimalism. Companies with which he has worked include: Drury Lane Theatre, Light Opera Works, Theatre at the Center, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Lincoln Center, La MaMa, Chicago Shakespeare Theatre, Michigan Opera Theatre, Lake George Opera, Fulton Theatre, Pennsylvania Opera Theatre, among others. He has performed on Broadway in The Phantom of the Opera, and has toured Nationally in various productions. Larry was an original member of The Cummings Ensemble, a minimalist group featured on the CRI Label; which performed throughout New York City and the country. He is delighted to be a part of this exceptional piece created by Mark Messing and Mickle Maher, and is proud to share the stage with George, Tim and Paul.
Tim Lenihan is a freelance pianist/keyboardist in Chicago. He has played in the pit orchestras for Wicked, Billy Elliot (Oriental Theater), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Drury Lane Water Tower), Mame, Miss Saigon, Spamalot, Aida (Drury Lane Oakbrook), and Aladdin (Chicago Shakespeare Theater). Tim has also served as music director for Five Guys Named Moe (Fleetwood Jordain Theater), and Penny Serenade (Towle Theater). He has also worked as an accompanist for vocalists at the Lyric Opera Center for American Artists. As an orchestral pianist, Tim has performed with Elgin Symphony, Northwest Indiana Symphony, New Philharmonic, Chicago Sinfonietta and Civic Symphony Orchestras.
Romanian cellist Paul Ghica began studying cello with his father at the age of eight. He spent his formative years in Los Angeles under the tutelage of Corneliu Rădulescu, before moving to Chicago. At fifteen, he played in concert with Emanuel Ax, and soon afterwards made his solo debut with the Merit Chamber Orchestra.
Paul brings with him his chamber music experience as a member of the Van Buren Quartet, Trio Sfacciato, and the Millennium Chamber Players. He has also served as co-principal cellist of the Civic Orchestra of Chicago, and collaborated with Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project. Today, he teaches at Logos School of Music, serves on the board of directors of the Chicago Cello Society, and can be heard honing his craft at The Peninsula or on 98.7 WFMT.
An active proponent of versatility in music, Paul enjoys a diverse career as a cellist, “jamming” regularly with groups outside the realm of classical music. He appears regularly anywhere from local churches to the House of Blues, and records regularly for pop, rock, and Christian albums.
Paul received his Bachelor of Music in Cello Performance from the Music Conservatory at Roosevelt University.
George Andrew Wolff
George Andrew Wolff (Beethoven), tenor, is thrilled to be working on such an exciting new collaboration. Opera and Theatre credits include: A Christmas Story, The Musical (1st National Tour),
Sweeney Todd, Ragtime (Drury Lane Theatre), Guys and Dolls, Hairspray, A Christmas Carol, Light in the Piazza, The Producers, Sunset Boulevard (Marriott Theatre), Die Fledermaus, Yeomen of the Guard, Countess Maritza (Light Opera Works), Willy Wonka and The Emperor’s New Clothes (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Chicago National), Albert Herring (Monteux Opera Festival), Bon Appetit (Anchorage Opera), Cats (TATC), Treasure Island (Fulton), The Hunchback of Notre Dame (Bailiwick Repertory), Annie Get Your Gun and Camelot (Ravinia Festival) and Side by Side by Sondheim (Light Opera Works Second Stage) for which he earned a Jeff Award Nomination. He is a proud ONU graduate, and this spring, will be seen in Drury Lane’s production of Hairspray. George is grateful to Mark and Mickle and the Oobleck community for welcoming him into their fascinating process.