Hwang calls show 'a new form'
Cyndi Lauper and Garth Hudson of the Band will reconnect with their work on the 1998 album “Largo” this summer at New York Stage and Film at Vassar College. Henry David Hwang, author of “M. Butterfly” and “Golden Child,” is turning the LP of rock, folk and blues tunes into a legit project featuring the pop stars. “Largo” will run for four performances only, July 6-8, at the theater festival. Ethan Silverman will direct.
“It is not a musical or a revue. It’s a new form, which is in a very early stage,” said Hwang. “We’re spending a couple of weeks to look at it and develop it.”
The concept of the “Largo” album came about four years ago when music producers Rick Chertoff and Rob Hyman assembled Lauper, Hudson, Taj Mahal and the Chieftains, among others, to create an American song cycle inspired by Dvorak’s New World Symphony. Since every song ended up being about a journey, the producers thought they might have a stage show. They took the project to New York Stage and Film, which put them together with Hwang, who came up with a story.
“It’s about the interaction between a group of musicians who go to the mountains and some spirits they encounter,” said the playwright.
“Largo” follows Hwang’s back-to-back book work on “Aida” and “Flower Drum Song,” now skedded for next season at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.
“Musical theater has come into my life fairly recently, and I’ve fallen in love with it,” said Hwang. Not that musicals are such a stretch, he added. Many of his plays, most notably “M. Butterfly” and “Dance on the Railroad,” have music themes. As for his plays sans songs, Hwang said that his next one, “Savage in Paradise,” about Paul Gauguin, will have its world premiere at Trinity Rep, possibly as early as next season.