Friday, April 30, 2010

Don't Tease Us, Adam

Playbill reports that a recent auction benefitting Playwrights Horizons offered as an item a page of music, signed by Adam Guettel. It's from RIP, his newest work, an opera based on Washington Irving's Rip Van Winkle. There is no information, thus far, on when or where it might premiere, though he does have a commission from Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA, for the 2011-2012 season. (Though Wikipedia claims that the musical at Signature will be an adaptation of the Danny Boyle film Millions.)

Guettel has created a reputation as one of the best young composers in musical theatre. (Or youngish. How sad is it for the art form that a 45 year old is considered to be an exciting new voice?) But that reputation rests on a remarkably small body of work: two musicals Floyd Collins and The Light in the Piazza and one song cycle, Saturn Returns (recorded under the title Myths and Hymns). Since Piazza in 2005, Guettel spent two years working on a stage adaptation of William Goldman's The Princess Bride, scuttled because of a royalty dispute (Goldman wanted 75%, as he was the author of the original novel and screenplay as well as the book, even though Guettel was writing music and lyrics), a few bits of incidental music and scattered songs, and a lot of silence. It's awful that a man with the ability to write such stunning songs hasn't given an adoring public another taste. (In a 2003 profile he mention that addiction issues had hampered his work in the past. I hope this is no longer true.)

So what I'm saying is this: Adam, if you are putting out signs that we might get more of your music soon, follow through, dammit. Finish the show, make it brilliant, and make sure it gets produced and recorded. You're too damn good to keep us on the hook like this, and musical theatre fans need your brilliance.


Mr. K said...

Yeah, he better reset his word processor (or whatever composters work on) from "average" to "Super-awesome."

Anonymous said...

The opera receives its first performance in Winston-Salem, NC at the UNC School of the Arts in April 2011.

Zev Valancy said...

Thanks for the info, Anonymous person. I wonder how many fans will be making a pilgrimage.