A century-old Western with a modern, soulful twistTuesday, July 31st, 2012
by Josh Marmer
Alum Jeremy Bloom’s adaptation of The Girl of the Golden West runs August 1-4
The Drama League takes pride in heralding innovative work by Directors Project alumni, and true to fashion, August is filled with tantalizing shows. Opening Wednesday, August 1 and running through Saturday, August 4 is The Girl of the Golden West, a world-premiere adaptation of the 1911 David Belasco novel, written and directed by alum Jeremy Bloom.
Much like the pioneering characters in The Girl of the Golden West, the production pushes boundaries. First written by Belasco as a play, then canonized in a Puccini opera, then turned into a novel in 1911, the Rady&Bloom adaptation of The Girl of the Golden West is billed as “a new music and soul-filled ode to the unexplored and untouched expanse of our nation’s forgotten periphery.” The production features words by Bloom and new music and additional words by Catherine Brookman, Ellen O’Meara, Joe White and Lucas Segall.
The Girl of the Golden West takes place in a saloon run by the only female in the town ofCloudy Mountain during the California Gold Rush. When she falls in love with a Mexican outlaw, they are swept up in a whirlwind of adventure unique to the Westerns of old.
Bloom makes it clear that his production isn’t chock-full of nostalgia, however. “[We are] not doing a campy Western, we are not strictly doing a period piece. We are using the history to tell an immediate story. My teacher Frank Galati said a reason that theatre is relevant is because it is a rehearsal for the players and audience for life’s biggest events. I hope we are doing that in a huge way – with hilarity, high jinks, and sincerity,” he says.
In telling an immediate story, the production utilizes original songs that draw on the source material, and Bloom hopes the resulting product will speak to music lovers. All of the music is performed live by the actors, who in turn helped compose the score. Girl of the Golden West also draws on storytelling elements, with actors playing several characters and the action shifting between a “chamber theatre, third-person style and a more cinematic, first-person approach.”
Inventive adaptations of classic texts are some of Bloom’s favorite projects to tackle, and this mode of collaborative adaptation is a cornerstone of his theatre company, Rady&Bloom, which he founded with performance artist and musician Brian Rady. A major goal of this production is to create “the union between ‘ye old past’ and ‘ye anachronistic present,’” Bloom says. “While it is an old story, I think we are finding a new language with which to tell it.”
Bloom and the rest of the cast and crew bring amazing energy, enthusiasm, and dedication to this wholly inventive production. You can catch, The Girl Of The Golden West, as part of the 2012 Ice Factory Festival August 1 through 4 at The New Ohio Theatre. Go to newohiotheatre.org for tickets and additional information.