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.
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
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.