Monday, December 30, 2013

Spiritual Music guides A Midnight Cry Journey

Rehearsals for First Stage's moving historical drama, A Midnight Cry, have officially begun! The cast and crew gathered for a Meet and Greet last week.

Director Jeff Frank talks about the production
and the set designs. 
A Midnight Cry, which premiered at First Stage in 2003, tells the story of a young slave named Lida as she journeys through the Underground Railroad to freedom. This production is inspired by the true story of Caroline Quarlls – who escaped slavery, made her way into Wisconsin – through Milwaukee to Detroit and eventually to freedom in Toronto.

After introductions were made, First Stage Artistic Director Jeff Frank, who directs the play, talked about the production and the history behind it. It is the third play in First Stage’s Wisconsin Cycle, a new play development initiative celebrating the local history, heritage and people of Wisconsin. Although the play is part of a dark time in American history, it more focuses on hope, the power of change, and the journey into a better life.

“It’s about inspiration,” said Jeff. “I want people to leave this theater feeling like they can take on the world, that they can move forward, that they can do something.”

Music Director Sheri Williams Pannell introduces the
style of music used in the play 
Music Director Sheri Williams Pannell explained how the use of live music and spirituals will add to the piece.  This style of music, inspired by the sounds of heartbeats and the rhythm of drums, helped preserved the culture and memories of a people as well as gave strength to keep going. A MIDNIGHT CRY will feature live music and, with the help of Percussion Director Jahmes Finlayson, recreate the music of that time.

Costume designer Pam Rehberg discusses
Lida's costumes 
The costume and set designs were introduced as well. Pam Rehberg, costume designer, talked about using the costumes to distinguish between the different social groups in the play.  Lida’s changing clothes, in particular will highlight her journey from slave to freedom. The set will also highlight the journey. Designed by Sarah Hunt-Frank, the set is comprised of pieces that resemble patchwork quilt sections. Throughout the play these sections will be assembled to reveal the Northern Star pattern, historically used to guide slaves along the Underground Railroad.

A Midnight Cry opens January 10 and runs through February 9 at the Todd Wehr Theater. 

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