(BECKET, Mass.) – The iconic Sixties folk music of Peter, Paul and Mary and 1970s children’s album Free to Be … You and Me are the inspirations for much of the program by Trey McIntyre Project (TMP) in in the Ted Shawn Theatre at Jacob’s Pillow from Wednesday, August 8, 2012, through Sunday, August 12, 2012.
LADIES AND GENTLE MEN, inspired by Marlo Thomas’s children’s book, record, and TV show Free to Be…You and Me will receive its world premiere this week at the Pillow, in a program also including the two-part dance Bad Winter — a new work that premiered in February in the company’s hometown of Boise, Idaho, set in part to Arthur Tracy’s 1937 recording of “Pennies From Heaven” — and Leatherwing Bat, which unites whimsical balletic movement with the playful ballads of Peter, Paul and Mary, and which received its world premiere at Jacob’s Pillow in August 2008.
McIntyre describes Leatherwing Bat as an exploration of the mature complexities of childhood which ultimately foreshadow and resemble the challenges of adulthood. The score includes the songs “Day Is Done,” “Puff (The Magic Dragon),” and “I Have a Song to Sing, O.”
Bad Winter begins with a wistful solo performed by Chanel DaSilva set to Arthur Tracy’s 1937 recording of “Pennies From Heaven.” The solo leads into a poignant duet that is seamlessly intertwined with the stirring lyrics, piano, and strings of “That Home” and “To Build a Home,” by The Cinematic Orchestra, an acclaimed British jazz and electronic group. The duet will feature Travis Walker and guest artist Lauren Edson, who is a 2005 alumna of The School at Jacob’s Pillow Contemporary Program.
The program concludes with the world premiere of LADIES AND GENTLE MEN, featuring music and poetry from the seminal recording, book, and television special, Free to Be…You and Me. A collaboration between Marlo Thomas and members of The Ms. Foundation for Women, most notably longtime Berkshire resident Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Free to Be… was originally released in 1972 as a recording with celebrities such as Harry Belafonte and Mel Brooks narrating children’s stories that tackle issues of tolerance, openness, gender neutrality, and positive relationships. Free to Be… was adapted into an illustrated book that recently celebrated its 35th Anniversary in 2008. The concept was subsequently adapted into an Emmy Award-winning television special as well as an award-winning play.
LADIES AND GENTLE MEN was conceived when members of the original Free to Be… team, including Alan Alda and Pogrebin, attended TMP’s 2010 performance at Jacob’s Pillow. They were so impressed with McIntyre’s work that after the performance they met him backstage to offer him the rights to the Free to Be… material, which McIntyre immediately accepted.
“The album and TV special played a huge role in his [McIntyre’s] upbringing, and he certainly considers himself to be a Free To Be kid,” says John Michael Schert, TMP dancer, co-founder and Executive Director. With special permission from the Free to Be Foundation, Trey McIntyre Project uses original recordings performed by Alda, Diana Ross, and Shirley Jones in LADIES AND GENTLE MEN, including “William’s Doll,” “When We Grow Up,” and “Dudley Pipin and His No-Friend.”
The work will also feature re-recordings of the songs “Sisters and Brothers” and “ My Dog is a Plumber,” performed by artists such as Merrill Garbus and Alan Cumming, respectively. This world premiere will feature six dancers with costumes by TMP’s Designer in Residence Andrea Lauer and lighting design by the company’s Producing Director Travis C. Richardson.
Trey McIntyre Project has celebrated numerous milestones in its company history at the Pillow. The company debuted as a pickup project at the Pillow in 2005 in the Doris Duke Theatre and performed at the Ted Shawn Theatre in 2006 before returning again in 2008 to make its full-time company debut. This is the company’s third Pillow engagement featuring a world premiere. Each year Trey McIntyre Project tours to more than thirty cities in the U.S. and abroad to perform for over 100,000 people. This past spring, Trey McIntyre Project was one of four American dance companies chosen by the U.S. Department of State and the Brooklyn Academic of Music to serve as U.S. Cultural Ambassadors; TMP subsequently embarked on a tour to China, South Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam.
Trey McIntyre is one of today’s most sought-after choreographers, having created more than ninety works for acclaimed companies such as American Ballet Theatre, New York City Ballet, Stuttgart Ballet, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago. McIntyre is known for exploring emotional themes using popular music to accompany his innovative and quirky choreography on his classically trained dancers, creating a union between music and movement that manifests remarkably skillful musicality.
Free PillowTalk: Free To Be You and Me
Saturday, August 11, 4pm
Nearly 40 years after actress and activist Marlo Thomas launched a landmark book and film Free to Be…You and Me, Trey McIntyre has translated its important lessons about gender stereotyping and prejudice into ballet, and here the project is fully explored. FREE
Performance and Ticket Information
Trey McIntyre Project
Ted Shawn Theatre
Wednesday, August 8 – Saturday, August 11, 8 pm
Saturday, August 11 and Sunday, August 12, 2pm
Jacob’s Pillow is located at 358 George Carter Road in Becket, MA, 01223 (10 minutes east on Route 20 from Mass Pike Exit 2). The Jacob’s Pillow campus and theatres are handicapped-accessible.