FROM THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR
In the afternoon of November 1, 1996, Paul Scott Goodman and AnnMarie Milazzo sang thru Paul's most recent creation of Jay McInerney's novel, Bright Lights Big City. Our offices were buzzing that day; each rehearsal room was teeming with activity. To give Paul a more informal setting, we decided to do the sing-thru in our second floor kitchen. Seated around the kitchen table, Paul tuned his acoustic guitar and AnnMarie opened her script. Afterwards, it felt as if Paul and AnnMarie had taken a deep breath and exhaled two hours of music. We were entranced. It was the beginning of a long journey.
After the sing-thru, Paul and I discussed what should happen next. In January we organized a reading with actors and musicians who rehearsed with Paul for five days prior to the reading. After the reading, it became very clear that it was time to match Paul with a director who could navigate the musical to the next stage. We discussed different directors and agreed to contact Michael Greif, a valued member of NYTW's artistic community. After reviewing the material, Michael enthusiastically joined the project. That summer, Paul and Michael participated in our annual summer residency at Darthmouth College where they immersed themselves in script work for one week. Instantly, I sensed the significance of Michael's presence, his commitment and rigor propelled the continued growth of BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY.
That September, Michael directed a staged reading with a new set of actors. After this reading we agreed to mount a studio production -- two weeks of reharesal, seven performances, no press. This was a transformative experience. Remarkably, the musical found a theatrical life in Michael's staging, a design team's inital brush strokes, and a company of actors and musicians. At this point, we felt confident to move forward and fully produce BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY. Equally essential, I observed an increasing mutual trust between Paul and Michael. Undoubtedly, this dynamic collaboration continues to critically inform the musical's evolution. The following summer, Paul returned to Dartmouth to begin working on the musical orchestrations with Richard Barone and AnnMarie. Many intangible encounters exist within the framework of these events. Indeed, this process creates an arena for focused concentration, endless discussion and thorough investigation of the music and story.
Many memories flash through my mind as I recollect these different experiences -- hearing Paul's guitar and Scottish voice echo through the dormitory halls at Dartmouth; standing in the theatre's last row during dress rehearsal; meeting with Paul and Michael over breakfast at Time Cafe. Throughout this journey, Paul has had the time and space to sculpt his artistry and vision. This kind of work is at the core of NYTW's endeavors. This porduction is representative of many similar journeys within our extended artistic community. At NYTW, we strive to create circumstances that respond to individual artists' needs while giving them the resources to flourish.
Thinking back to our intimate kitchen concert, I remember how we were still reeling from the unforgettable and extraordinary experiences of RENT. The last thing on my mind was a plunge into another large-scale production. I craved simplicity. And yet, here we are -- inexorably drawn to the boundless spirit, vitality and imagination of BRIGHT LIGHTS BIG CITY.
-- James C. Nicola