By Doug Reed
Directed by Marty Mulhern
In the early 1950s, an eccentric experimental filmmaker named Harry Smith compiled an 84-song anthology from his own personal collection of 78s. He called it “The American Anthology of Folk Music”. This anthology was comprised of murder ballads, fiddle tunes and other instrumentals, gospel songs, rural Deep South blues, and tales of folk legends like Casey Jones and John Henry.
The early 60s folk music movement was heavily influenced by this anthology. Bob Dylan's early work had the fingerprints of Smith’s collection running throughout. Folkie Dave Van Ronk was quoted as saying, “We knew every song on the Anthology by heart, even the songs we didn’t like.”
Playwright Doug Reed has created a new play based on the Anthology called “Minglewood Blues”. The play looks at a number of characters who appear in the Anthology: Casey Jones and John Henry, the ubiquitous Alice Fry, the doomed lovers Frankie and Albert (better known as “Frankie and Johnny”), the crooked railroad boss Alan Catcher, Stagger Lee and Billy Lyons, John Henry's wife Sally Ann, among others. Reed puts all of these characters in the town of Minglewood. The narrative follows the characters as their destiny unfolds.
Reed is a nationally produced playwright whose works have been performed in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles as well as venues in nine other states. He moved to Madison in the late 90s and has written for Broom Street Theater, Mercury Players and Actor's Factory. He has written for nearly every Blitz since its inception and was the winner of the inaugural Blitz Smackdown. His last play at Broom Street Theater was “Just Sit Right Back And You’ll Hear A Tale” in 2006.
Director Marty Mulhern returns to direct at Broom Street for the first time since his critically acclaimed “Buck Mulligan’s Revenge” in 1995. Mulhern, who began his BST career acting in Joel Gersmann's first play at the Williamson Street location in 1977, “The Golem”, has appeared in more than 20 plays while producing seven in his tenure at Broom Street. He is also a founding member of the Madison rock band, The Apologists.
The production also features a live band—Charles Giteau and The Sharpshooters. The six-piece band features members of the folk collective, Moldy Jam, and also members of local rock groups The Rousers and The Apologists. The cast of 14 is made up of recent Broom Street actors, a few newcomers, and some seasoned veterans who return to BST for the first time in over a decade.
Produced by Broom Street Theater at Broom Street Theater, 1119 Williamson Street, Madison
Performances: August 7 - September 13, 2009
Performance Times: Fridays and Saturdays @ 8:00 p.m., Sunday matinees at 2:00 p.m.
Ticket Prices: $9 Friday and Saturday, $6 for Sunday matinee.
For more information or reservations call 608-244-8338 or go to www.broomstreet.org.