(cover photo: Kevin Massey and Harriet Harris in Bristol Riverside Theatre’s production of “The Rivals.” (Photo courtesy of Mark Garvin)
“On A Day As Lovely As Today, “Un-Block The Music Experienced A Reading of “The Rivals”
If you follow “Un-Block The Music,” you know the love of following development and growth of a show. Since starting this blog, I have seen a lot of shows, and hands down, one of my favorites was Desperate Measures. I had the good fortune of interviewing Peter Kellogg who wrote the lyrics. In doing so, he told me about The Rivals which is a musical he has written based on the play by Richard Brinsley Sheridan. Actually, Peter wrote the book and the lyrics and Stephen Weiner wrote the music.
It’s difficult to describe the plot with all of its twists and turns. Suffice to say, young Captain Jack Absolute (Kevin Massey) falls in love with Lydia Languish (Hayley Podschun) who believes you have to be poor to have a successful marriage. So, Jack takes on a different persona. You can imagine the confusion from there. Although not a musical, it reminded me of one of my all-time favorite plays, the Importance of Being Ernest. It’s a lot of fun, and there is a lot of good, catchy music such as “On A Day As Lovely As Today”.
The show was originally produced at the Bristol Riverside Theatre in Pennsylvania this past fall before coming to the The York Theatre in Manhattan. While Peter told “Un-Block The Music,” that it hasn’t been decided if a full out version of the show will be done at the York, he had nothing but amazing things to say about his experience there.
“Jim Morgan (Artistic Director) is a good friend. He designed the set for my first musical, Anna Karenina. I have since done readings of five musicals there, including Desperate Measures, which is how it launched. Anna Karenina revised was produced there as well, which is how it came to the attention of producers who have made it a success in Japan,” Peter explained.
“And The York goes out of their way to help you. In this case, they had the grand piano on stage for us, and a tech guy help us with the lights,” Peter continued. “They let us rehearse on stage the two days before as well. Also, since it becomes part of their developmental reading series, the show is advertised to its members, which means they end up providing half the audience. With many of theatres, you simply rent their space and they offer no help at all.”
“Un-Block The Music” spoke to several people in the audience before the show started, and many were well versed on the show, and it certainly seemed like they enjoyed it. Tony-Award winner, Harriet Harris (Thoroughly Modern Millie) played Mrs. Malaprop, the well- intentioned, if not language challenged aunt of Lydia. She is always a scene stealer.
Other performers included: Ed Dixon (Georgie, Anything Goes), Chris Dwan (Finding Neverland), Morgan Faulkner (Regional, It Shoulda Been You), Nick Kohn (Avenue Q), Joe Veale (The Rivals in Bristol), Jim Weitzer (Phantom Of The Opera) and DeLaney Westfall (Kinky Boots).
If you haven’ read “Un-Block The Music’s” previous pieces about Peter Kellogg and the York Theatre, check them out at :
Just an aside, if you are working on a new musical, “Un-Block The Music” would love to talk to you. Message me!
And, one other thing, Emergency The Musical has announced ticket availability for its cabaret June 20, 2019 at Green Room 42 In NYC.