As part of his sabbatical project, Saint Mary's College theatre professor Dan Cawthon has written the narrative for the musical revue of songs from O'Neill's plays and is directing the production, "O'Neill: The Rhythms of His Soul."
* Read Interview with Dan Cawthon, Saint Mary's College theatre professor
Musical Revue of Songs from O'Neill's Plays is Centerpiece of Eugene O'Neill Festival in Danville
"O'Neill: The Rhythms of His Soul," a lively musical revue featuring the songs in the plays of America's renowned playwright, will be the centerpiece of the Eugene O'Neill Festival to be held in Danville during the final week of September. Directed by Dan Cawthon, a cast of four singers will perform the music cabaret-style in the Village Theatre September 25-28.
The revue includes music that was popular at the turn of the twentieth century as well as sea chanties, songs of Ireland and the barroom, romantic ballads and a special section titled "songs for the misbegotten." Among them are revered favorites "Oh, You Beautiful Doll," "It's Always Fair Weather," "Everybody's Doing It Now," and "Shenandoah."
Bobbie Duncan, Shelley Lynn Johnson, Derek Lux and Robin Taylor will perform the music, accompanied by Michael O'Dell, the show's musical director, at the piano and Patrice Young on cello.
According to Cawthon, a professor at Saint Mary's College who has written a narrative to connect the different themes in the revue, none of the music was written by O'Neill himself. Most of it was composed prior to 1913--before O'Neill wrote his first play. He calls forth from his memory a song or snippet of a tune to be used to underscore a scene, establish a character, create a mood or reveal an attitude. O'Neill's taste in music was eclectic. In the main, he preferred jazz, ragtime and the melodies of Tin Pan Alley and the American Music Halls to classical music.
The Eugene O'Neill Festival is sponsored annually in Danville by the Eugene O'Neill Foundation, Tao House and the National Park Service. Tickets for "O'Neill: The Rhythms of His Soul" are available at the Village Theatre Box-Office. All seats, $26. Charge by phone: (925) 314-3463.