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NORA YORK/FOXES

NORA YORK/FOXES
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NORA YORK/FOXES

FOXES is a music theater piece based on the history of the American Spiritualist Movement that developed in the mid 19th century and it’s founders, the Fox sisters. It will be an operetta in six sung séances -- with film, scenic projections, and modern illusionist techniques used invoke the atmosphere of excitement these mediums conjured. FOXES will be filled with spirits, explorers, and 19th century celebrities “rapping” from and flowing to the grave.

Details

FOXES  is a musical based on the Fox sisters and the history of the American Spiritualist Movement that began in the autumn of 1849.   Foxes opens in 1885 with Maggie Fox waiting in the backstage of a packed auditorium at New York Academy of Music. She is preparing to recant her life’s work as a spiritual medium.  Standing alone in the wings, the middle aged Maggie begins to recall her childhood in a small town in upstate New York.    She and her sister Katie, bored to death, teach themselves to crack their toes in such a way as to convince their mother and the neighbors that the ghost of a murdered peddler is haunting the house. Beginning with an amusing teenage joke, the Fox sisters embark on career of "rapping" and communicating with the dead that will last for almost forty years, and where they become the architects of the Modern Spiritualist Movement.   These "raps" -- which will be rendered in all their eerie glory by a "prepared" piano and percussion-- were said to be the way "spirits" of the dead communicated with the living from their 'heaven' called Summerland. Our quintessentially American rags to riches tale, will be a fictionalized account that explores the themes of celebrity and its cascading ripples of influence; the universal desire for proof of an afterlife and for knowledge that the departed are still with us; the power of groupthink; and the beginnings of the women suffrage movement, as the vast majority of mediums were young, attractive women with little means of support.    Moving back and forth in time the adult Maggie remembers her youthful career with Katie -- as sung by two young women singers, a mezzo and a soprano, and the cast of characters they encountered –sung by a tenor and bass.  The music of the turn of the century, from parlor songs to the grand operatic repertoire will be the inspirational source for our compositions. Jump, (awarded a New York State Council for the Arts composers commission in 2009 and currently in development at the Public Theater in New York) was composed as a response to Puccini’s Tosca.    Foxes will be staged beginning from the re-created stage of the New York Academy of music – and through light and projection we will enact a series of five séances,  in short corresponding acts – to be performed without intermission for 60 to 70 minutes. We imagine the music to be percussively driven, as the “raps” , which begin each séance, will set the tempo and the tone each short act.    Recently as a composing team, Jamie and Nora scored German film  & opera director Doris Dorrie’s six-part award winning drama series Klimmaweschel for German TV.  They are working with Ms. Dorrie on the book for FOXES and who will also be directing and designing the piece.