NYU Steinhardt’s Program in Vocal Performance will present the musical Life of the Party from March 23–26, 2017. The show features book, lyrics, and music by Nell Benjamin and Laurence O’Keefe, the music and lyrics team behind the award-winning Broadway musical Legally Blonde. Jessica Bashline directs.
Set in the Soviet Union in 1953 and based on true events, the show tells the story of artists trying to make a movie musical in an entertainment industry personally run by the all-powerful and murderous Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. A story of love, revenge, and trying to make art in an insane world, Life of the Party explores a very timely message: You can’t escape cruelty by passing it on.
Originally developed five years ago by Benjamin and O’Keefe, the musical was workshopped and performed in 2012 with a large cast and orchestra at New York City’s LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. In recent months, Benjamin and O’Keefe continued to develop the piece with a Broadway-sized cast of NYU Steinhardt students.
In composing the show, Benjamin and O’Keefe worked to convey the way the Soviets looked at Broadway and Hollywood and built their own unique equivalents. The show mixes operatic and folk songs with Frank Sinatra-esque big band swing, Rachmaninoff and Stravinsky with Rodgers and Hammerstein.
“Life of the Party – which you might call a Soviet Singin’ in the Rain – explores themes of censorship, betrayal and bravery, and the role that the arts play in society,” said O’Keefe. “We based the show on some heartbreaking and inspiring true stories of unsung artists ordered to create happiness in a psychotic world. That may have some relevance for today.”
NYU’s production of Life of the Party runs March 23–25 at 8 p.m. and March 25–26 at 3 p.m. at the Provincetown Playhouse, 133 Macdougal Street. Tickets are $15 general admission and $5 for students and seniors. For tickets, contact NYU Box Office at tickets.nyu.edu, call 212.998.4941, or visit in person at 566 LaGuardia Place (at Washington Square South).
Life of the Party features music direction by Benjamin Green, choreography by Nick Kenkel, scenic design by Ryan Howell, lighting design by Cheyenne Sykes, costume design by Michelle Humphrey, sound design by Eleni Maltas, and props by Sandy Yaklin. The production stage manager is Armelle Harper. The cast features NYU Steinhardt students Stephanie Bacastow, Erica Bigelow, Cynthia Bonacum, James Buhse, Jack Buxton, Michelle Cosentino, Elle Fellerhoff, Eimear Foley, Matthew Hougland, Fabien Joubert-Gallmeister, Josh Kahn, Noelle Leinwol, Evan Parker, Madeline Raube, James Rose, Eric Sand, Chad Schultze, Jacqui Sirois, Berlayne Smith, Amanda Strader, Maksim Tokarev, Joseph Valle-Hoag, and Parker Wallis.