The Directors Company in association with ShadowCatcher Entertainment presents the world premiere of The Violin.
September 7 – October 14 2017
59 East 59th Street (between Park and Madison)
Broadway veteran Robert LuPone (A Chorus Line, True West, The Sopranos) stars in a humorous and heartbreaking world premiere drama directed by Joseph Discher (Butler). Peter Bradbury (Broadway’s King Charles III, Long Day’s Journey Into Night, The Cherry Orchard) and Kevin Isola (Showtime's Billions) co-star.
When Bobby, Terry, and Gio—two hapless brothers and a world-weary tailor—find a 1710 Stradivarius violin worth four million dollars in the back of a New York City taxi, it looks like the opportunity to change their fortunes has landed in their laps. A shot at their dreams, however, will mean some quick decisions testing loyalty and family ties with irrevocable consequences.
To purchase tickets call Ticket Central at (212) 279-4200 or visit www.59e59.org
Robert LuPone talks with TheaterMania about THE VIOLIN and returning to the New York stage in his first major role since 2003.
Read the interview here: http://www.theatermania.com/off-broadway/news/robert-lupone-braves-return-in-the-violin_82293.html
As ShadowCatcher prepares for the upcoming World Premiere of THE VIOLIN, Literary Manager Tom Park sat down with playwright Dan McCormick to discuss his life and career to date, and the journey of THE VIOLIN from the page to the stage.
DAN, TELL ME A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOUR BACKGROUND - GROWING UP, YOUR FAMILY, EDUCATION, ETC.
I am one of eight children, with five sisters and two brothers, two extremely hardworking and loving parents, originally from the Philadelphia area, with 24 nieces and nephews, a few step-nieces and nephews in there too. So counting all the in-laws, aunts, uncles, cousins and God knows who else, the McCormicks are an Irish army in and among themselves! As far as schooling, I was a Catholic school kid all 12 years, from grade school to high school. And I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance, which I'm proud to have, but Business Administration was never what I wanted to do.
SO WHAT WAS YOUR PATH TO PLAYWRITING?
From the moment I started college and university studies, I was always reading plays in the back of the classrooms. I can't really say for sure why I was drawn to plays in particular. The only thing I can think of was that deep down I always knew I wanted to be an actor, even though I had no real exposure to the theatre. We were a very sports driven family; basketball, football, street hockey, stickball, that kind of thing. So I really didn't know how to go about pursuing theatre.
YOU GOT INVOLVED WITH ACTING FIRST, RIGHT?
I went to a University in Philly and it was then that I started taking acting classes for the first time at Walnut Street Theatre and Wilma Theatre. But I didn't tell any of my neighborhood friends; it just wasn't the kind of thing that we did. Again, we were very sports oriented and grew up in a neighborhood with hundreds of other kids at a time when raising alot of hell and mischief was just part of your every day life. It was great! Yet, there was still a part of me that wanted to be exposed to acting, to drama and comedy, to the acting I watched on TV and film.
After graduating from college, I thought maybe I could combine my interest in theatre with my business degree and so I took a job at a local theatre in their marketing department. But when I was exposed to all of these professional actors doing new plays and classic plays, with a whole production team around them and on this amazing stage, I just knew that I needed to be part of it on a much more dedicated level than what I was doing. So I left the local theatre, drove across the country, and headed to LA. I sat in on various acting classes and the one that just fit for me was The Stella Adler Academy-West. It was an awesome training program, right on Hollywood Blvd. where I was mentored by one teacher in particular, Deborah Kym, who exposed me to the great plays and playwrights of all time. I couldn't get enough of it; the actors, the energy, everything was new and it was brilliant! And we didn't just act the scenes out, we would literally break down the entire play. Why did the playwright choose the title? Why did the playwright choose a name? Why did the playwright write that line this way instead of that way? I mean, on and on, and so without ever taking a writing course, I guess I was unconsciously learning how to write plays!
AND YOUR WRITING TOOK OFF FROM THERE?
No, no, it was wasn't until several years later when I came to New York, when I really started to write. And then many more years after that, when some productions started to happen. After Stella Adler, and while still in LA, a group of classmates started our own theatre, the New Millennium Theatre Company, and we put up plays that we all felt had some real teeth to them - Cages by Lewis John Carlino and The Shirt by Leonard Melfi are perfect examples. And along with Williams, O'Neill, Albee, Shepard and Wilson, their writing exposed me to the sort of real life characters that I was seeing all around me for the first time and, without knowing it, had been exposed to all my life; plays that went deeper into the playwright's own personal history - the secrets, the pain, the vulnerability, the fears, the failed dreams, the truths - raw, ugly, beautiful, and alive for a brief moment that said that they were here! So when I started to write plays of my own, how could I expect anything less of myself? I believe strongly that I was given a gift to write; it's my responsibility and I take that responsibility very seriously. I work at it everyday, with the same drive and purpose that my father went and did his job, the same way any tradesman chips away and turns wood and stone into art.
IN ADDITION TO WRITING, YOU STILL WORK AS AS AN ACTOR AND MUSICIAN. IS THAT HARD TO BALANCE?
Nearly twenty years I have been writing plays, along with my continuing acting endeavors, that has also led me into writing screenplays, short stories, a novel and lyrics and music; with my two CDs, "Edge of America Bound" and "Broadway Lights", making the Grammy Award entry ballots. And as far as balancing it all, I don't even think about it, I just do it. They all interest me and they are all such a valued part of me. Of course there are times when I am doing one more than the other, but that time away just makes it more rewarding for me when I get back to it. I just follow the energy.
TELL ME ABOUT THE INSPIRATION FOR THE VIOLIN.
I can't say it was any one thing in particular. As I mentioned, I write every day and when I'm tapping into characters and a possible story, it's just kind of this back and forth thing and then suddenly something takes hold and then I'm back again to when I first started breaking down plays at Stella Adler; why do I as the playwright say this instead of that, why does the character talk this way instead of that way, and on and on. It's literally going back and forth with myself until the answer is solved. I suppose it's similar to when a math teacher gives the students the answer at the bottom of an equation and it's up to them to try and figure out how the teacher got to the solution. And so what do they do? They go back and forth over and over again until they solve the problem. An old friend of mine told me once, when referring to looking through a camera lens to capture a scene, "What needs to be there?". I think of that question very often.
WHAT ARE THE MAJOR THEMES IN THE VIOLIN?
The major theme is choices. The choices we make that can have such a powerful and long lasting effect on our lives can happen in an instant. Sometimes those choices turn out to be good and of course, many times it's quite the opposite. You can't cheat the process to reach your dreams. Dreams are work and you have to work extremely hard to make them reality and sometimes a choice comes along that can make you believe that you can grab hold of that dream quicker, to have it now, instead of when it's your time. And so along with choice; morals, ethics and integrity go hand in hand. The characters in The Violin are forced to confront these ideals, as each of their own choices individually and collectively have consequences.
DID THE PLAY TAKE YOU A LONG TIME TO WRITE?
I chip away at whatever I am writing everyday, and the writing of The Violin was no different; so the actual writing of the first draft was perhaps only a few months at most. Now that said, this play has gone through countless revisions over many years that have shaped the story significantly. In fact, even now that I am in rehearsal working with our wonderful cast, director and production team, I am still making revisions. Frankly, I don't think it will ever really stop, as I hope the play has many more lives from here and with that comes more revisions.
THE VIOLIN JUST STARTED REHEARSALS. HOW'S THAT GOING?
Rehearsals for The Violin are going great! I've been able to work closely with our director, Joe Discher, and the actors Robert LuPone, Pete Bradbury and Kevin Isola; breaking down the script literally line by line, and talking about motivation and reason and want and need and why. Again, it all goes back to my earlier training, yet all these years later, it's in a world premiere production with an exceptional Directors Company and ShadowCatcher Entertainment team around it! It's an incredible feeling! Especially the other day, when our entire production team - must have been twenty people or so - were all in one room because of this three-character play called The Violin!
HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH SHADOWCATCHER?
The belief in this play; the characters, the story, its themes, its world is a humbling honor that I cherish beyond words! And it all started with my agent, Marta Praeger, sending the play to David Skinner of ShadowCatcher Entertainment. David has not only become one of my dearest friends, he has become my advocate and my mentor; of not only The Violin but of all of my work as a writer. And of The Violin specifically, David has worked with me and asked of me to keep digging deeper and deeper into character and possibilities and what if and why and how! David and I are of the same school, so to speak. And by doing so, both verbally and non-verbally, he said, "I believe in you, Dan!". All of the years and years of just pecking away at something that only exists out of an absolute need to do it, David said "I believe in you, Dan, and I'm going to do my very best to make sure others feel that way too". And he has!
WHAT'S NEXT FOR YOU?
As far as my latest projects, I am writing my first half-hour TV series called "Stories From My Old Neighborhood" based on my life growing up in a time that doesn't exist anymore; big neighborhoods, big families, alot of laughs, wild times, some poignant moments too. It's a series that I really feel is needed right now and I'm having a great time writing it. I'm also getting ready to start workshopping another play of mine called Hardware in the Actors Studio Playwrights and Directors Workshop in its 2017/2018 season and I'm hoping to get back into the recording studio soon as well.
BUT FIRST UP, OBVIOUSLY, THE VIOLIN! THANKS AND CONGRATS, DAN!