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The Rise of the Cliffs Notes Musical

After a season of shows based on the back catalogues of Elvis and John Lennon, this year’s musical-makers are borrowing from the greatest stories ever told.

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A Woman of Will
Daryl Roth Theatre, September 17
The Concept
Kate is a troubled lyricist trying to complete a Broadway musical based on The Merchant of Venice, set in Havana. Shakespeare’s heroines come to life to help her out.
The Model
Ideally, a more accessible Light in the Piazza—equal parts Cole Porter and Bette Midler.
A Sample of the Source Material . . .
“Out, damn’d spot! Out, I say! One—two—why then ’tis time to do’t. Hell is murky. Fie, my lord, fie, a soldier, and afeard?” —Macbeth, Act V, Scene 1
. . . And of its Descendant
“We’re not gettin’ the respect that we deserve now, / and I’m the one who’s callin’ all the shots. / Everyone is working my last nerve now. / The Prozac’s runnin out, and I’m so tired I’m seein’ spots.”


Beowulf
Irish Repertory Theatre, October 7
The Concept
The English medieval warrior king gets an arty theatrical makeover—including dance, Celtic music, and puppetry.
The Model
More Basil Twist than Avenue Q, with a little Enya thrown in.
A Sample of the Source Material . . .
“As I sat in the boat with my band of men, I meant to perform the uttermost what your people wanted or perish in the attempt, in the fiend’s clutches.” —from Seamus Heaney’s Translation
. . . And of its Descendant
BEOWULF: I killed your beast. What is my name?
CHORUS: Beowulf!


A Tale of Two Cities
Theater TBD, spring 2006
The Concept
This elaborate production faces epic hurdles on its way to Broadway next spring—director David Bell’s sudden departure being the most recent.
The Model
Two words: Les Miz.
A Sample of the Source Material . . .
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness . . . .”
. . . And of its Descendant
“Look into the future / And what do you see there? / And if we do nothing / Can you guarantee we’ll be there / For the things to come? / The future dawn; the distant drum? / The cup from which we all can drink? / It’s later than the scholars think / And it won’t be long! / It won’t be long!”


The Ark
37 Arts Theatre, November 14
The Concept
Million-plus-selling Christian-rock composer Michael McLean adapts the Bible story, with the audience meant to stand in for the animals.
The Model
Altar Boyz, but more earnest, with a Dr. Phil gloss (Noah’s prodigal son feels neglected).
A Sample of the Source Material . . .
“And the flood was forty days upon the earth; and the waters increased, and bare up the ark, and it was lifted up above the earth.”
. . . And of its Descendant
“Lightning, frightening, / drenching, stenching, / bad hair days for sure / Mildew will do, rotting, spotting, / who knows how much more?”


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