Broadway Veteran, Estonians, and an Irishman, team up to bring the legendary story of the Singing Revolution to the New York theatre community. The production is initiated by an American director/choreographer, Tony Spinosa, and Irish co-book writer, James Bearhart. The story is inspired by the Estonian emancipation from the Soviet Union in 1991. Spinosa and Bearhart, along with New York based, Estonian brand manager Valev Laube from The VL Studios, have teamed up to propel the production of Singing Revolution: the musical under the Musical Supervision of Doug Oberhamer
Known to most Estonians, stories of the Singing Revolution share how, between 1987 and 1991, hundreds of thousands of Estonians gathered publicly to sing songs of national importance and share protest speeches, risking their lives to proclaim their desire for independence. While violence and bloodshed were the unfortunate result in many occupied nations of the USSR, the Singing Revolution in this small Northern European nation accomplished a sense of cultural resistance and pride during politically uncertain times.
The idea of making Singing Revolution: the musical began in 2015 with book & music writer Tony Spinosa. “When I landed in Tallinn, Estonia, and heard about their Singing Revolution in 1991, I was inspired to write a musical about this quintessential example of music and singing as a form of peaceful resistance. A tradition of gathering and singing songs of local importance collectively has been a part of Estonia’s culture since the first Estonian Song Festival in 1869 but took a political turn towards the end of the 20th century when it became a form of protest and cultural preservation against the occupation.”
Singing Revolution: the musical is a Europop musical in which modern-day star-crossed-lovers are involved in the Estonian Revolution against the Soviet Union. Inspired by real-life events on the quaint streets of Tallinn, Estonia, natives struggle for their freedom and the preservation of Estonian culture. The situation becomes complicated when an Estonian falls in love with the Soviet Commander’s daughter.
Since its inception, the production has been embraced by the Estonian community here in New York, as well as interest from the Estonian Government in Tallinn. Spinosa has been invited to visit Tallinn several times to meet with their President and Prime Minister and was given the opportunity to interview leaders of the 1991 revolution. Last April, Estonian pop-singer Uku Suviste was flown to New York by the Estonian Consulate to debut several songs from the musical at the EV100 Gala at the Essex House in NYC.
Tony Spinosa (Concept, Book, Lyrics & Music) is most known as a producer, stage director, choreographer, writer, arts leader, and performer. He has directed over fifty theatrical productions across the United States. At a very early age, Tony was mentored by theatre legend Michael Bennett and made his Broadway debut in Peter Pan with Cathy Rigby. Tony became the Resident Director of the Tony Award-winning, Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles in 2010. He has produced numerous events for Broadway Cares, TDF and The Actors Fund, including the recent mega-hits Thoroughly Modern Millie and Bombshell in Concert, [title of show] in Concert, and They’re Playing Our Song in Concert. As a director/choreographer, Tony’s award-winning work include: Newsies, West Side Story, and Cats. Select regional productions include: Hairspray, Fame: The Musical, The Music Man, Oliver, Kiss Me, Kate, Fiddler on the Roof and La Cage Aux Folles.
James Bearhart (Book & Lyrics) is a creative professional whose experience in storytelling comes from years working in the design industry. James has a Masters in Design from Central Saint Martins in London, and a Certificate in Screenwriting from UCLA. James was born in a small village called Enniscorthy, Ireland (home of writer Colm Toibin and Bauhaus designer Eileen Grey), has traveled the world, and has just recently become a US Citizen as a 1st generation immigrant. His experience of many cultures and their approaches to storytelling gives him an understanding of what makes a great universal story.
Valev Laube, the creative director of The VL Studios, became involved in the project initially as a graphic designer assisting with web and social media but has now grown to be an integral part of the production as a brand manager and visual leader. Laube described this collaboration as a milestone for Estonians: “I think it is important to showcase and remind people how centuries-old culture in the form of language, music, and art, cannot be forgotten simply because of an oppressive regime. This story reminds us of the power that a group of people with determination and unification can have, while also highlighting our human weaknesses and strengths along the way. In New York, the Estonian community has been amazingly supportive of this production, helping us with pride and passion. It is one of those magical stories that people feel is important to be heard.”
The initial demo recordings are available now to give everyone a glimpse of what’s to come with various reading events and public concerts coming up in Fall 2019.
Eesti Elu Nr. 42 - 22. oktoober 2021 DIGILEHT
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