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  • Writer's pictureScott M Williamson

Susannah production: Final dress

Susannah, act I.3 "bathing scene"

I can't believe we open this amazing show tomorrow night, April 28. What a memorable experience this production has been. Its meaningfulness is multivalent. Of course any production is a "big deal" for a performer; such productions are meaningful in deeply personal ways which may vary from show to show. As I've said already in this "off the cuff" series, Susannah is more meaningful for me right now because I've worked hard to love it so. It's a fast-moving drama which also doubles as an allegory (or "parable art", as opposed to the "escape art" of entertainment, as W. H. Auden distinguished between categories or genres which are increasingly difficult to define... I prefer Kurt Weill's distinction between "good" and "bad", regardless of genre.)

It's "seriousness" (of subject and tone) contributes to its concentrated impact - its not dissimilar to Pagliacci or Cavelleria in its verismo compactness and melodramatic - quintessentially "operatic" - passions. Susannah shares historical resonances mined by Arthur Miller, the sweeping Southern poetry of Tennessee Williams, at once gothic and camp, and on a hot, sensually vivid summer night. Floyd captures the regional American grandeur of Melville or O'Neill, but the epic scale is concentrated into the frame of a noir thriller (and we've notated parallels between "broadway operas", Hollywood, and Susannah, too...

Dong Soo and I look at the projections for Susannah

I couldn't be happier with our cast. As an anecdote, the eminent artist and Mountain Lake Workshop founder, Ray Kass was in the audience for our final dress last night, and was genuinely impressed. Ray worked closely with John Cage. Ray introduced me to our projections designer, Dong Soo Choi, four years ago when the Taubman Museum of Art featured a Cage Centennial exhibition of his Mountain Lake Workshop watercolors. The image on my home page (here) is a collaboration with Ray at the Taubman as part of that very exhibition. Dong Soo Choi's projections and Dante Olivia Smith's lighting are both stunning.

Such synchronicity makes the world feel smaller in a beautiful way. If I may paraphrase Sondheim and speak for our company: Look: we made a hat where there there never was a hat...

Well, Carlisle Floyd is the one made this awesome hat named Susannah, and we're making it here, where it's never been made before, and we couldn't be more excited for the thrill of engaging that challenge. See you at the Opera!

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