Waterwell (Arian Moayed & Tom Ridgely, Artistic Directors) will revive the Blueprint Specials, a series of lost World War II-era musicals composed principally by Broadway legend Frank Loesser to be presented in association with the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum and The Public Theater’s Under the Radar Festival. The production will star Tony Award nominees Laura Osnes (Cinderella, Bonnie and Clyde) and Will Swenson (Hair) and be directed by Drama Desk nominee Tom Ridgely.
Additional casting will be a combination of civilian artists and U.S. Military Veterans. The original choreography for the Blueprint Specials by modern dance giant José Limón will be reconstructed by José Limón Dance Foundation Artistic Director Colin Connorand Limón Dance Company dancers.
Originally conceived in 1944-45 by the Special Services Division of the War Department, the Blueprint Specials were created by virtual Who’s Who of 20th century American entertainers. Alongside the Tony, Oscar and Pulitzer winning Loesser were writer Arnold M. Auerbach, who later wrote for Milton Berle and won an Emmy for his work on The Phil Silvers Show, and choreographer José Limón, later a towering figure in the development of modern dance.
Additional lyrics were contributed by Hy Zaret (“Unchained Melody”, Ballads for the Age of Science), and the dance numbers were composed by future 15-time Academy Award nominee Alex North (A Streetcar Named Desire, Death of Salesman, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf).
“The fact that in the midst of the most widespread war in history the U.S. Army was bothering at all to commission Broadway-style musicals is astonishing,” said Waterwell Artistic Director Arian Moayed. “The fact that they were created by artists of this caliber feels almost miraculous. These are documents of immense historical importance, and we couldn’t be more honored to be giving them their first staging since 1945, and their first ever for the American public.”
The Blueprints were conceived as what Special Services described as “a novel and very practical service for soldiers who wish to put on good GI shows for GI audiences”. Called “Blueprints” once they’d been written and tried-out, the Army packaged and distributed them as a complete script, score/orchestrations, scenic & costume drawings, plus instructions for how to put on the show. As such these extraordinary works can be seen and heard today exactly as their creators intended.
They highlight the fact that, while the forms of entertainment and ways in which soldiers maintain morale may have changed dramatically since WWII, their need for creative outlets and communal diversion has not. To help engage a substantive military-civilian dialogue and foster mutual exchange and increased understanding of the effects of armed service, Waterwell is collaborating withVictor Hurtado, U.S. Army Veteran and former director of Army Entertainment and the Army Soldier show, as well as casting a combination of civilian artists and Military Veterans, both onstage and off.
“The soldier show is a tradition that stretches back a hundred years, to WWI and Irving Berlin,” Hurtado said. “And I have seen firsthand what involvement in music and the arts can do for service member’s morale and the contribution it makes to their resilience. The Blueprints represent an unprecedented opportunity to partner with our military veteran artists, technicians and musicians by giving them a chance to stand shoulder to shoulder with Broadway professionals to tell their story.”
The Blueprint Specials will play six performances on the hangar deck of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum: Friday, January 6, 7:30pm; Saturday, January 7, 8:00pm; Sunday, January 8, 3:00pm; Monday, January 9, 7:00pm; Wednesday, January 11: 11:00am (school groups only) and 7:30pm.
The Museum is centered on Intrepid, a US Navy aircraft carrier that served during World War II, the Cold War and the Vietnam War.
Tickets are $25 for the general public and $20 for Intrepid Museum members.
Visit www.intrepidmuseum.org/blueprintspecials for more information and to purchase.