‘Music Is’ to be revived at WCU

Musical theater student Jonathan Cobrda plays the part of Shakespeare in the upcoming revival of “Music Is” on Feb. 4-5 at Western Carolina University.

The third show of the 2011-12 University Theater’s Mainstage season, a concert version of “Music Is” by George Abbott, will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, and 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5, the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center on the campus of Western Carolina University.

The play features music by Richard Adler with lyrics by Will Holt and has never been revived since it left Broadway. Catherine Cox, who played Viola, a lead role, in the original production, will guest direct the first performance since the closing in 1976.

“The show is a wonderful look back at the golden days of musical theatre,” said Bradley Martin, associate professor of piano at WCU and musical director for the production. With only a short run on Broadway, the play was “lost in the shuffle and people just forgot about it,” said Martin who spent the greater part of a year gathering pieces of the script and score from archives in the Library of Congress, the Folger Shakespeare Library and the New York Public Library. “When I discovered that there was another musical by the great Richard Adler, composer of ‘Pajama Game’ and ‘Damn Yankees,’ I just had to investigate further,” said Martin, “After much research, we were able to piece the show back together like a jigsaw.” Martin worked with Cox and Andrew Adams, assistant professor of piano at WCU, to finalize the script. Without a final version of the script, the trio listened to a recording of one of the original performances and corrected their copy based on that recording, said Martin.

“Music Is” is based on Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” and focuses on mistaken identity. The main character, Viola, masquerades as a young page named Cesario and enters the service of Duke Orsino. At the time, Orsino is in love with another character, Olivia, who rejects his romantic advances. Instead, she falls in love with Viola, believing her to be a man. Viola, in turn, falls in love with the Duke. “It’s a real tangled mess of love,” said Martin.

The lead roles in the production are filled by WCU musical theater students. Jonathan Cobrda, a junior from Greensboro, will play the part of Shakespeare, who narrates the story. Juniors Anastasia Teel from Goodlettsville, Tenn., and Charity Haskins from Aberdeen will play Viola and Olivia respectively. WCU students Joe Callahan, Peter O’Neal, Brian Gay and Andy Thompson also will star in the production.

Both showings will be in the John W. Bardo Fine and Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for faculty, staff and seniors. Student tickets are $10 at the door or $7 in advance.

The next performance of the Mainstage season, “The Why” by Victor Kaufold, will open Wednesday, March 21, in the Blackbox Theatre at the Bardo Arts Center.

To order tickets, or for more information about the season, call the Bardo Arts Center box office at 828-227-2479 or visit bardoartscenter.wcu.edu.