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World premiere Europop musical ‘Singing Revolution’ inspires with a love story set against historical events
LOS ANGELES (November 30, 2021) — “Lift it up, lift it up: we can sing our country free!” Twenty triple-threat performers and a five-piece band will bring an inspirational new musical based on historical events to life this January. Presented by Dreamtone Productions in association with NewYorkRep, the world premiere of Singing Revolution: The Musical sets a tale of star-crossed lovers against the beautiful, moving, and timeless true story of Estonia’s 1987 song-filled, peaceful uprising against the Soviet Union. Featuring a crowd-pleasing Europop score by Tony Spinosa, who also directs; book and lyrics by Spinosa and James Bearhart; music direction by Brent Crayon; and choreography by Tracey Benson, opening night is set for Saturday, January 15 on the Main Stage at Hollywood’s Broadwater Theatre, where performances will continue through February 20.
Set in Tallinn, Estonia and spanning four decades, Singing Revolution is inspired by the actual events that led to Estonian independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The tiny country’s journey to freedom through the power of song acts as a reminder to us all that the power of peaceful resistance can change the world.
“When I first learned about Estonia’s ‘Singing Revolution,’ a light bulb went off in my head,” says Spinosa. “People literally singing as a shield against Soviet attacks is a story I knew I needed to tell.”
“Once word got out that I was working on this musical, TV shows began to approach me for interviews,” he continues. “I was introduced to the Estonian consul in New York City, who connected me with Estonia’s minister of culture in Tallinn. I was able to interview many of the leaders of the Singing Revolution, most of whom are still alive and still living in Estonia. With their help, I began to discover the passion and integrity of the Estonian culture and the heart of this musical’s story.”
In the play, Estonian student Taavi Tamm, who will later become a leader of the Estonian resistance (James Everts, seen in Chicago for Plan-B Entertainment and Newsies at Candlelight Pavilion), falls in love with Sofia, daughter of a Soviet officer (Bella Hicks: Sweet Charity for Reprise 2.0, American Idiot at La Mirada). Meanwhile, Taavi’s teacher Leena (Krista Feallock: All Shook Up at San Diego Musical Theatre, Allegory at La Jolla Playhouse WOW Fest) and her Russian colleague, Viktor (Lucas Alifano, recently seen in Death of a Salesman at the Ruskin Group Theater) find themselves similarly drawn to one another. Michael Scott Harris (Ragtime with Musical Theatre West, Shooting Star at the Hudson) plays Sofia’s father, Soviet commander Nikolai Solokov. Renée Wylder (The Last Five Years at Cupcake Theater, Little Women: The Musical and Daddy Long Legs at PCPA in Santa Maria) and Adam Wylie (Into the Woods on Broadway, Wicked at the Pantages, Brad Langford on Gilmore Girls) portray the parents of Taavi, with Wylie doubling as Joseph Stalin — alongside Anthony Marciona (Broadway/national touring productions of Gypsy, Zorba, Tommy, Starlight Express, Bronco Billy and Ballroom) as Vladimir Lenin and Peter Van Norden (2019 Ovation award for best actor in The Hothouse at the Antaeus, 2020 Ovation nomination for best featured actor in Red Ink at Playwright’s Arena) as Mikhail Gorbachev.
The ensemble, appearing as students, patriots, soldiers and more, includes Emily Abeles, Melanie Au-Yeung, Lacey Beegun, Mitchell Lam Hau, Thomas Hollow, Brandon Kallen, Marissa Ruth Mayer, Chet Norment, Brandon Keith Rogers, Michael Swain-Smith and Kelsey Lee Smith.
The musical’s new and exciting Europop score will appeal to anyone who loves K-Pop and the Eurovision Song Contest. The live band includes music director Crayon and Jennifer Lin on keyboards; Carlos Rivera on bass; John Ballinger on guitar; and Emiliano Almeida on drums.
As part of the development process, songs from Singing Revolution: The Musical have been previewed at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the Estonia 100 Year Celebration in New York City, and the Estonian American National Counsel in Washington, DC.
The creative team for the production at the Broadwater includes scenic designer David Goldstein; costume designer Alex Jaeger; lighting designer Andrew Schmedake; sound designer Cricket S. Myers; projection designer Nicholas E. Santiago; properties designer Jenine MacDonald; graphic designer Kiff Scholl, AFK Design; and casting directors Michael Donovan, CSA and Richie Ferris, CSA. Orchestrations are by Harrison Beck, with additional orchestrations by Brent Crayon. The development director is Jamie Monahan. The production stage manager is Karen Schleifer. Racquel Lehrman, Theatre Planners produces for Dreamtone Productions.
“Singing Revolution” is a commonly used name for the nonviolent movement that led to the 1991 restoration of independence of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from the Soviet Union. Starting in 1987, Estonians engaged in a series of mass demonstrations, including spontaneous singing of national songs which were banned during the Soviet occupation. Raising the banned Estonian flag while gathering en masse and singing banned patriotic songs, the movement eventually gained the support of the republic’s ruling Communist Party in defying Moscow, faced down Soviet tanks, and successfully declared Estonian independence.
Tony Spinosa is a producer, stage director, choreographer, writer, arts leader and performer. He has directed over 50 theatrical productions across the United States. At a very early age, Tony was mentored by theater legend Michael Bennett, and he made his Broadway debut in Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby. Tony became the resident director of the Tony Award-winning, Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles in 2010. He has produced numerous events for Broadway Cares, TDF and The Actors Fund, including the recent mega-hits Thoroughly Modern Millie, Bombshell in Concert, [title of show] in Concert and They're Playing Our Song in Concert. As a director/choreographer, Tony's award-winning work includes Newsies, West Side Story and Cats.
Performances of Singing Revolution: The Musical take place Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m., January 15 through February 20. There will be two preview performances on, Thursday, Jan. 13 and Friday, Jan. 14, each at 8 p.m. All tickets are $40, except previews, which are $30. The 6320 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038. Proof of vaccination is required for admission. Masks must be worn throughout the performance. For reservations and information, visit singingrevolutionthemusical.com.
Singing Revolution is sponsored, in part, by the Estonian American National Council.
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