The Great River Shakespeare Festival (GRSF) will present a reading of the new musical Georama on Sunday, July 22 at 7:30 p.m. in the Winona State University Performing Arts Center.
GRSF has received funding from the Southeastern Minnesota Arts Council to help underwrite a week-long workshop of the new musical which will culminate with a public reading by the GRSF resident acting company.
Georama tells the story of the America artist, John Banvard, creator of the first georama--a 3,000 foot-long painting of the Mississippi River--and who became a fixture of American culture and entertainment in the mid-1800s. Banvard traveled the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers making a living as a sketch artist. After creating the georama and gathering considerable fame and wealth, he lived in Boston and New York City and traveled to Europe to showcase his work. When Banvard returned to America he discovered that his work was no longer unique because of his artistic competitors, including the great American showman PT Barnum. After a series of bad business decisions, Banvard died in poverty and obscurity in a small town in South Dakota where pieces of his work were discovered enclosed in the walls of several local buildings allegedly being used for insulation.
The musical was created by author/director West Hyler, composer Matt Schatz and musical director/arranger Jack Herrick of the Red Clay Ramblers. All three will travel to Winona to work with members of GRSF’s resident acting company on the workshop and reading. Hyler is an associate of Dodgers Theatricals in New York City and the director of the book scenes for the Broadway musical Jersey Boys. Schatz is one of three recent recipients of the prestigious 2012 Kleban Award which is given to promising young composers in the American musical theatre.
GRSF Artistic Director Paul Barnes met Hyler when they were both attending plays and auditioning actors at the Utah Shakespeare Festival in August 2011.
“When West and I began talking and he learned that I was affiliated with a Shakespeare festival on the Mississippi River and I found out he was writing a musical set on the River, a working alliance seemed a natural step to take,” said Barnes. “The musical has tremendous future potential, not only as a compelling piece of musical theatre but as a unique American story with particular interest for Minnesotans.”
The musical reading is free and open to the public. Seats are reserved, and reservations are being taken at this time.
For more information, call the GRSF Box Office at 507-474-7900, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.