THE CRADLE WILL ROCK (1937)
Music, Book and Lyrics by Marc Blitzstein
Performed in English
In Steeltown, USA, everything and everyone can be bought - at least that’s what Mr. Mister thinks. The greedy businessman uses his wallet to control anyone he wants, including the local newspaper editor, preacher, university president, doctor… even the artists! But Larry Foreman’s efforts to unionize local workers threatens to rock the cradle and shift the balance of power out of Mr. Mister’s control. An allegory on corruption and corporate greed both timely and timeless, The Cradle Will Rock’s biting humor and brazenness is as impactful now as it was when it premiered in 1937. Blitzstein’s eclectic, jazzy score is a propulsive mix of classical parody, popular melodies, and dramatic ensemble numbers, with a smoky flavor redolent of Kurt Weill - but all-American in its raw energy and urgency.
Did you know...?
The Cradle Will Rock was shut down on its opening night by the government in an act of censorship because the pro-union plot was feared to be too radical. The Works Progress Administration, the federal agency that oversaw the Federal Theatre, abruptly canceled the production and sent armed guards to keep any costumes or sets from being removed from the theater. Actors’ Equity also barred cast members from performing the show onstage. Undeterred, Blitzstein, John Houseman (the original producer), and Orson Welles (the original director) found another theater and moved a battered upright piano and the cast uptown, along with hundreds of onlookers, so that Blitzstein could sing through his piece for the audience. As Blitzstein launched into the introduction from the piano, Olive Stanton (Moll) stood up in her seat and sang the opening number from the audience. The rest of the cast followed suit, and one of the greatest stories of Broadway history was born. Opera Saratoga will celebrate the 80th Anniversary of the historic premiere with a new fully staged production, and will perform Blitzstein’s original orchestration for the first time in 57 years!
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