New Musical Features Score of Composer Whose Music is "Appealing as Hell," Says Charles Strouse
Composer Works At Boston Symphony Orchestra
For Immediate Release
BOSTON (PRWEB) December 7, 2003, A new musical from Boston features the score of a composer whose music is "appealing as hell," says Charles Strouse, the composer of Broadway hits "Annie" and "Bye, Bye Birdie." "Testing the Musical" follows in the tradition of Strouse's Broadway and is based on the "Don Quixote" short story "The Man Who Was Too Curious For His Own Good." Set on a summer island outside New York City, "Testing" is a modern treatment of a classic story about a man who asks his best friend to test the virtues of his girlfriend. The concept is similar to that of Mozart's "Cosi Fan Tutte."
Originally a play without music, "Testing" received early support from Mark Van Doren, the legendary professor at Columbia University who was portrayed in the 1994 film "Quiz Show." Van Doren spent a lecture praising the merits of Alvin Aronson's play, avowing its Broadway potential. Aronson, a Columbia student at the time, was both stunned and honored by the endorsement. The event set the young writer's sights on Broadway.
For three years, Aronson worked with Broadway producer and director Theodore Mann at the Circle in the Square Theatre. While there, he worked on the famous staging of Tennesse Williams's "Summer and Smoke," starring Geraldine Page (winner of the 1986 Best Actress Oscar for "Trip to Bountiful"). Through that connection, Page starred in Aronson's "The Enormous Lie" at the Actor's Studio in 1962. Then for three years he worked hands-on in the creation of "On A Clear Day You Can See Forever," acting as assistant to legendary bookwriter and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner ("My Fair Lady").
In 1966, with experience and connections under his belt, Aronson produced his play, "The Pocket Watch," at the Mermaid Theater on West 42nd Street. The play ran for 725 performances, setting a record as the longest running off-Broadway show in New York. The sequel, "Nighthawks," played at the Mermaid in 1968. Despite early support, however, it took another thirty years to get "Testing" off the ground.
Aronson was impressed with a young composer working at the Boston Symphony Orchestra. After the playwright attended the orchestra premiere of "Hit Tha Town," the conductor announced, "There is hope for American music." On a whim, Aronson showed composer Mark Perreault the script of "Testing." The musician recognized its Broadway potential, and together they adapted the play into a musical. In doing so, the structure was reworked, the ending was developed, and music and lyrics were created for fifteen numbers.
Full of syncopated jazz rhythms, the music captures the style of Strouse, Bernstein, and Gershwin's Broadway. Participating in the recording of the musical, Boston Pops violinst Kristina Nilsson called the music "charming." She and the Newton Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of conductor Jeffrey Rink, recorded a suite from "Testing" in April. During the same month, the songs were recorded with vocalists at Symphony Hall.
With a blend of romance and nostalgia, "Testing" recaptures the youthful optimism of yesterday's stage. Rodgers and Hammerstein embraced beauty, love, and hope in musicals that can still sell-out the box office, but where are those values in shows written today? "Testing the Musical" celebrates those values of the American spirit and aims to fill a void on Broadway. The score is now available on "The Testing LP."