Arden Theatre Company concludes its 2011/12 Season with the premiere of TULIPOMANIA: The Musical, with Book, Music, and Lyrics by Michael Ogborn. Directed by Terrence J. Nolen, this world premiere musical will run on the F. Otto Haas Stage from May 24-July 1, 2012.
Before we had the subprime mortgage crisis or the dot com bust, Holland had the Tulip craze of 1636, the first recorded financial bubble. Six strangers in an Amsterdam hash bar recall this seedy story of love, sex, money, and power, as the story shifts seamlessly between both time periods. The music likewise carries the same influences, says composer Michael Ogborn: “The score is contemporary in sound, structure and arrangement with harmonic underpinnings of 17th century music and folk ballad forms, along with influences from Turkey and Afghanistan where the tulip was first discovered. This story gives me the opportunity to return to the themes I began exploring as a young composer: greed, forgiveness, redemption—and how one man’s actions profoundly affect those around him and history itself.”
TULIPOMANIA: The Musical marks the Arden’s third Michael Ogborn premiere, following 2001’s Baby Case (Barrymore Award for Outstanding Original Music) and 2003’s Café Puttanesca. Ogborn’s other work includes Box Office of the Damned, numerous musical pantos at People’s Light and Theatre Company, and he has received multiple awards as a cabaret performer.
At the helm of this production is Terrence J. Nolen, the company’s co-founder and Producing Artistic Director, who worked on both previous Ogborn productions at the Arden. “I find myself especially drawn to Michael’s sometimes quirky, often edgy, and at all times compassionate view on what it is to survive in a complex and often absurd world,” says Nolen. “It is especially poignant that this musical, originally inspired by the dot-com bubble, would gain renewed relevance over the course of its development with the recent subprime mortgage crisis—a fact that undeniably demonstrates that the timeless subject matter of Tulipomania.”
A host of Arden favorites comprise the ensemble cast of six strangers who seek camaraderie and anonymity on a rainy Amsterdam afternoon. These returning actors are Jeff Coon (Sunday in the Park with George, Assassins), Ben Dibble (Candide, Assassins), Adam Heller (My Name Is Asher Lev; Caroline, or Change), Joilet F. Harris (Barrymore Award for Caroline, or Change; Violet), Alex Keiper (The Flea and the Professor), and Billy Bustamante (Pacific Overtures).
The production team creating this smoky production includes set designer James Kronzer (Clybourne Park, Barrymore Award winner for Something Intangible), costume designer Rosemarie McKelvey (Barrymore Award winner for Something Intangible and Caroline, or Change), lighting designer John Stephen Hoey (Assassins, Sweeney Todd), and sound designer Jorge Cousineau (Clybourne Park, Sunday in the Park with George). Music Director Dan Kazemi leads the live band of six onstage musicians who are incorporated into the action of the on-stage hash bar.
The finaldress rehearsal of TULIPOMANIA: The Musical on Wednesday, May 23 at 8pm is open to the public as a Pay-What-You-Can performance, with all proceeds donated to the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, which motivates people toimprove the quality of life and create a sense of community through horticulture.
Tulipomania: The Musical previews begin on Thursday, May 24. Preview performances run March 24, 25, 26, 27, and 29. Opening night is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 30, 2012. The closing date is set for Sunday, July 1, 2012.
Single ticket prices are $29- $45, with discounts available for seniors, students, military and educators. Groups of 10+ enjoy significant discounts; please inquire about group rates. Call the Arden Box Office at 215.922.1122, order online at www.ardentheatre.org, or visit the box office at 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City, Philadelphia.