by Janece Shaffer
original music by Kristian Bush
directed by Susan V. Booth
Originally produced at Alliance Theatre, Atlanta, GA
January 18 to February 12, 2017
About the Premiere Production:
Synopsis: Set in 1950s Nashville, TROUBADOUR tells the story of country music legend Billy Mason, who is on the eve of retirement following a highly successful, genre-defining, 30-year career. Joe, Billy’s soft-spoken son, has toured and performed with his father for years and is eager to branch out on his own and step into the spotlight. When Joe joins forces with an unlikely pair – Inez, a budding singer/songwriter, and Izzy, a Russian Jewish immigrant eager to make a place for himself as a manager and clothing designer on the American stage – a revolution is born, and country music is changed forever.
Artistic Statement: TROUBADOUR is one of those rare plays that you fall in love with immediately and meaningfully. The story and the music of this piece perfectly reflect its name, communicating with pinpoint precision the unmistakably American aesthetic of the lonely, itinerant story teller. The richly beautiful, meditative quality of this 1950s show creates an intoxicating experience of self-reflection and nostalgia.
The overall feel of the piece is complemented by the compelling story of a young man’s search for identity in the shadow of his father. Filled with frustration from navigating a degenerative illness and resentment at retiring before his time, Billy lashes out at the child who has supported, cared, and sung with him. Joe’s search for self-worth and his courageous journey towards a sound and an expression all his own, while loving and caring for a father who just can’t seem to help himself, is a story that audiences will crave to see again and again.
Joe’s journey towards independence and empowerment is supported by two unlikely companions who wind up needing him as much as he needs them. Inez, an equally meek singer/songwriter, has found her voice, but is still searching for the conviction to stand up and speak. Together, she and Joe develop a touching romance, in which the partner with fame and the partner with voice teach each other how to take the space to say what they need to say in words all their own. Izzy, a Russian Jewish immigrant, is a costume designer and eager to serve as Joe’s manager. At a national moment of Cold War paranoia and anti-Semetic sentiment, Izzy defies all odds and asserts his right to shape the story of America during a time of critical cultural inflection.
Ultimately, TROUBADOUR is a play about storytelling, of people learning to love and express themselves, and through that power, changing the story of a cultural tradition. Between the music, narrative, characters, and team of nationally renowned creative artists at the height of their talents, TROUBADOUR presents an experience about American identity that audiences will devour. This piece is Ms. Shaffer’s finest work to date and has the potential to set the country on fire. As the Theatre that has supported, collaborated, and benefited from her, we are thrilled beyond expression to be premiering this truly singular work."
Grant Statement :The Alliance Theatre’s world premiere of TROUBADOUR will appear in our 2016-2017 season on our 770-seat Alliance Stage. With an additional week of rehearsal, the production will rehearse from December 20, 2016 to January 17, 2017 with 30 performances from January 18 to February 12, 2017. Support from the Edgerton Foundation will extend TROUBADOUR’s rehearsal period from a budgeted three to four weeks. This additional week of rehearsal will enable the creative team to make essential adjustments to the script and to fine tune the execution of the songs, which will all be performed instrumentally and sung by the acting company. During the Alliance’s previous collaborations with Janece Shaffer, substantive changes were made to the script during the rehearsal and preview periods, and we expect the same level of rigor and skill for TROUBADOUR.
Set Designer: Todd Rosenthal
Lighting Designer: Ken Yunker
Costume Designer: Lex Liang
Sound Designer: Clay Benning
Musical Director: Brandon Bush
Original Music: Kristian Bush