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Thursday, March 8, 2012

“The Cradle Will Rock,” by Marc Blitzstein @ WSU (Ogden: March 23 - 31)


The Cradle Will Rock

Who: Weber State University Department of Performing Arts
What: “The Cradle Will Rock,” by Marc Blitzstein, directed by Trent Cox
When: March 23, 24, 27-31, 7:30 p.m. •  2:00 pm matinee: March 31 
Where: Eccles Theater, Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts

Weber State University Department of Performing Arts presents “The Cradle Will Rock,” by Marc Blitzstein, directed by Trent Cox. The production runs March 23, 24, 27-31, 7:30 p.m., with a 2:00 pm matinee on March 31, in the Eccles Theater, Val A. Browning Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets are $11 and $8 for all shows and are available in advance at Dee Events Center Tickets, 1-800-WSU-TIKS, weberstatetickets.com or at the door beginning one hour before the performance.  The production contains adult situations and language. 

An allegory of corruption and corporate greed, this play was written in 1937, directed by Orson Welles and produced by John Housemen as part of the Federal Theatre Project.* Set in “Steeltown, USA”, Larry Foreman tries to unionize the town’s workers and combat greedy businessman Mr. Mister, who controls the town’s factory, press, church and social organization.

Cox says, “When AAT selected “The Cradle Will Rock,” we all agreed that this piece of theatre history would be wonderful for our generation to see.  It’s place in theatre history is a very important one.  Cradle was a part of the Federal Theatre Project whose mission was give jobs to unemployed artists and to create art.  When The Cradle Will Rock was originally produced in June of 1937 the political overtones in the show scared the government enough send in workers of the W.P.A. (Works Progress Administration) to forcefully shut down the show.  

“One of the main themes in the show is prostitution; prostitution of ones self, the government, the church, the press, etc.  Although the content of this show was politically heavy for it’s day, it translates to today’s audiences as well.  This show deals with themes of the Occupy Movement.  Mr. Mister owns Steeltown’s press, church and all of the town’s factories.  He is the one percent . . .  

“One of Marc Blitzstein’s major influences while creating Cradle was Bertolt Brecht.  I am using a few different “brechtian” styles in my directing. . . Elements that we are using to create this are music, minimal set, projections, live sound, and cast doubling: 29 different characters are portrayed by 16 actors.  90 percent of the show is either sung or has musical underscoring - a great challenge.  Luckily I have a very skilled music director, Rick Rea, and 16 incredibly talented actors to make this show seem like a piece of cake.”

The Federal Theatre Project was “one of five Federal One projects sponsored by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). The FTP’s primary goal was employment of out-of-work artists, writers and directors, with the secondary aim of entertaining poor families and creating relevant art.” (wikipedia) 
When the WPA shut down “The Cradle Will Rock,” forbidding the producers to use the costumes or sets or the actors to appear on stage, Welles, Houseman, and Blitzstein rented another theatre, intending Blitzstein to sing/play/read the entire musical. Without prior planning, cast members joined from the audience (not on stage). The success of the performance led Welles and Houseman to form the Mercury Theatre.  

For more information, contact director Trent Cox: tbone_jtc@hotmail.com

photo credit: McKalle Sanderson
Mr. Mister (suit) Trevor Dean
Moll: Becca Lichfield
Larry Foreman: Addison Welch

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