What do fairy tales, botany, Jungian psychology, musicals, and New York City all have in common? Seemingly nothing, but if you allow yourself to go just a little bit insane, you'll find they all can all come together quite beautifully on stage.
At least, that's the goal of Fairy Tales: Songs of the Dandelion Woman, the latest production from SoBe Institute of the Arts, written and composed by Sobe Arts' Executive Art Director Carson Kievman.
It's a project nearly 20 years in the making, and it will have its official debut Thursday, May 8. You've probably never seen anything quite like it before.
It's the disjointed, non-linear tale of a young and beautiful heiress, the bank examiner her family hired to spy on her, and their communal dissent into madness. See? It sounds pretty unique already.
Kievman has been toying with the idea for decades. He was first inspired by a woman he shared a building with back in the '70s.
"Then, I was living in a building in Greenwich Village, and there was this woman who moved into the building while I was there," he says. "She was quite elegant and beautiful, and over a period of time - years - she changed completely from this elegant, beautiful woman to what essentially looked like a bag lady."
He started officially writing the musical in 1995, and it has been performed in various stages throughout, but he finally put the finishing touches on the piece, rounded out the finale, in January of this year.
The music has been in production just as long. Kievman has performed and worked on the songs at prestigious stages including Princeton and the Manheim National Theater. Mary Adelyn Kauffman will be acting as musical director for the big debut, and Kievman couldn't be more excited.
"Music comes first and foremost," Kievman says. "I hope, and do believe, that people will be inspired by the score as it unfolds."
But it's not just the premise and musicality we find intriguing. It's also the presentation.
"(SoBe Arts) is a black box multi-media space," Kievman said. "We don't have any wing space or fly space, so everything's done transformatively through projections."
Instead of moving the actors from set to set, the scene will change on top of them. One moment, the main characters are acting out the roles in a home-goods commercial, the next, they're in hospital beds or making like Ozzie and Harriet. It's all part of putting yourself in the shoes of a person who's gone down the rabbit hole.
Don't get it twisted. This isn't some heavy, mind-blowing commentary on humanity in the violent style of Fight Club. It won't break you down or anything.
"It's done with a great deal of humor and a great deal of fantasy, so it's not hard to take," Kievman promises. "We're not talking about somebody seeing somebody go nuts in a dramatic movie."
It's fun and fanciful, hence the Fairy Tales title. But again, don't be misinformed. Due to strong language, this is not exactly meant for children. It's just a fun way for Kievman, the actors, and the audience to explore the inner workings of the modern mind and find a little escape through entertainment.
"People will relate to this," Kievman says. "Everybody lives in a world that's extremely complicated right now, and difficult. Even though most of us manage to hold it together and do what you have to do to manage life, everybody can imagine what it's like to let go, right? Let them do it on stage, is what I say, and have fun with it."
Fairy Tales: Songs of the Dandelion Woman runs various dates Thursday, May 8, through Sunday, May 18, at the SoBe Arts Little Stage Theater, 2150 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets are on sale now and cost $10 to $25 via sobearts.org. Call 305-674-9220 or visit sobearts.org.
Follow Kat Bein on Twitter @KatSaysKill.
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