Musical Chairs: Caldwell Shakes Up Season

The Caldwell Theatre Company has replaced two of its previously announced shows.

The first to go is that perennial favorite mixing drama and comedy, the ever-popular TBA. (They never seem to actually get that one on the boards.)

The pinch hitter is a play only theater mavens have heard of:  The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Diety, a wicked satire on American pop culture set in the Neverland of World Wide Wrestling. The work by young Kristoffer Diaz, which premiered at the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2010.

Through a Latino narrator with a distinctly urban voice, Diaz depicts the fakery behind the world of commercial wrestling – and the entertainment industry – in part by staging wrestling matches in front of the audience. Caldwell Artistic Director Clive Cholerton said the real challenge will be in casting actors who can wrestle or wrestlers who can act or….

This may seem like an unlikely entry, but I read the script when it was submitted to the American Theatre Critic’s New Play Contest and saw a production at Second Stages in New York. The material is both hilarious and revealing, and Diaz has been tinkering with the script since its first bow.

The body blows will be on display Jan. 8 to Feb. 12.

The second substitution, a real one, is the musical Working in place of City of Angels slated for Feb. 26-April 1.

The 1978 musical based on Studs Terkel’s book about the nobility of labor was a failure on Broadway but has been a success scores of times in regional theaters. Its main virtue is an eclectic score by Stephen Schwartz, Craig Cornelia, Mickie Grant, Mary Rodgers, Susan Birkenhead and (no kidding) James Taylor. In 2008, Lin-Manuel Miranda (composer of In The Heights) and Schwartz (Wicked) added songs for a pared-down production bowing at the Asolo Repertory Theatre in Sarasota.
Cholerton said he has always wanted to do the show, but suddenly was faced with a tiny window for negotiation, and took advantage of the opportunity. He noted that with 10 percent unemployment in the country, the topic was especially timely.

Speaking of economics, he also acknowledged that one inducement for the change is that the show can be performed with a cast of six. The massive City of Angels required a cast of 17. The show was planned as the first partnership production with Entr’Acte Theatrix, a troupe that gives freshly-minted performers an opportunity to work in a professional production. Cholerton said he still hopes to work with the company.

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