A sexy, spooky, funny, contemporary musical about a shallow teenager whose views of women, love and himself are transformed by a series of magical adventures with some of the great and famous women of literature.
With a mixture of levels, forms and styles, the piece combines a disjunctive, post-modern vision with traditional unity. We see a post-modern personality finding his place in the world by checking into the past. However, so as not to mislead you with this "grant-ese" language, the piece has been called the Bye-Bye Birdie of the 90's. It is full of whimsy and fun. The show opens with the cocky and insensitive teenager, Charles Watson, and his sexist and rowdy friends (played by four musicians who also serve as the band in the musical), mercilessly teasing a nerdy female classmate, Eleanor. As punishment for his behavior, Mrs. Gradgrind, the old bag English teacher, sentences Charles to write an essay on a great woman in literature. He is sent to the library (where he meets the librarian, the incredibly sexy and witchy Miss Dewey). The Library illuminates the relationship of literature to society at large. "Shame" (Hester Prynne's number) juxtaposes Puritan morality with the morality of the 90's. "The Green Light" (Daisy Buchanan) reveals an equivalance between the shallow values of the 20's and the cool teenager of today. In the characters from A Tale of Two Cities we see how individuals are swept up in large historical moments, and when Lady Macbeth is confronted by Madame Defarge we see the two aspects of violent revolutionary change -- the illusion of triumph and the reality of death and horror.
The Library received its world premiere, directed by Cass Morgan, at Stamford Theatre Works (95 Atlantic Street, Stamford, Connecticut 06901) in April/May of 1996. The cast featured Sarah Knapp as Miss Dewey, and a Band led by the composer, Steven M. Alper. Click here for more complete details about the production.
The Library was selected by The New Harmony Project for workshop and has received an NEA production grant. If you would like to discuss how you might contribute to funding the project, .
If you have the ViewMovie plug-in and QuickTime
you can hear a QuickTime movie (sound only) selection
from The Library entitled "A Party at Jay's."
This page and its contents copyright 1996 by Steven M. Alper.