Press Opening:  Sunday, May 18 at 7:30 pm

Contact: Rebecca Ende
(202) 777–3230/rebeccae@washingtondcjcc.org

(Washington, DC) — Theater J presents the world premiere of DAVID IN SHADOW AND LIGHT, a modern musical retelling of the biblical tale of King David by Yehuda Hyman and Daniel Hoffman.  The show runs May 6–June 22, 2008 in the Aaron & Cecile Goldman Theater at the Washington DCJCC.  Press night takes place Sunday, May 18 at 7:30 pm.  Tuesday, May 6 and Wednesday, May 7 at 7:30 pm are Pay-What-You-Can Previews. For the extended preview period of Thursday, May 8, through Thursday, May 15, all tickets are $25. Full priced tickets range from $20 to $55 and are available at boxofficetickets.com or at (800) 494-TIXS. 

An epic musical of King David’s astonishing trajectory from boy shepherd to superstar ruler to aging king, as he wrestles with the lowest and the purest form of human impulses, this visually stunning production incorporates thrilling dance sequences and a post-modern frame through which the triumphs and travails of the Bible’s most charismatic character are brought to life. The earthy sexuality of the story—David’s marriage to both King Saul’s daughter Michal and his paramour Bathsheba, as well as the ardent love he shares with Saul’s son, Jonathan—combined with its portrait of blood, war and passion is at once relevant to a modern world and classically powerful.  This re-envisioning is cleverly framed by two characters, the Archangel Metatron and Adam, who according to ancient midrashic legend, chance upon the infant David and are compelled to watch his life.  In this musical version the story unfolds on film, the action of which plays out on stage as a live movie.

Theater J and the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity commissioned Yehuda Hyman and Daniel Hoffman to create this piece almost four years ago with the support of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Since then it has been further developed through readings and workshops in the Arlene and Robert Kogod New Play Development Program at Theater J.  “Why do a show about King David now?”  Artistic Director Ari Roth asks and then answers “Because he was the biggest celebrity to ever walk the face of the earth. He had the greatest gifts, the highest charisma quotient, he was wildly popular, wildly romantic, rapacious, God-fearing, flesh-loving, a bollix of contradictions—how contemporary is that?”  The modern depiction uses non-traditional casting to envision a David of color: a Tiger Woods-like natural phenomenon, “the Barack Obama of the Bible,” quips Roth.  King David will be played by DC native and rising New York star Matt Pearson (tick, tick…Boom! at Metro Stage, The Slug Bearers of Karol Island at the Vineyard Theatre in New York). 

This stellar cast also includes some of DC’s finest musical theater performers including 2008 Helen Hayes Award Nominees Will Gartshore as Jonathan, Donna Migliaccio as the Angel Metatron, Larry Redmond as Uriah, and Bobby Smith as King Saul. “The musical,” notes Roth, “will be the biggest undertaking in Theater J’s history. We’ve workshopped the play for several years and brought together a superb team to make this incredibly well-told story come alive with relevance and immediacy.” The cast will also include Russell Sunday as Goliath, Peggy Yates as Batsheva, Norman Aronovic as Adam, Matthew Anderson as Nathan and Carolyn Agan as Michal.

Theater J Resident Director Nick Olcott and Musical Director George Fulginiti-Shakar will lead a talented creative team.  Composer and world-class klezmer violinist Daniel Hoffman will head the four-piece band. Peter DiMuro, Artistic Director of The Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, and Dance Exchange company member Shula Strassfeld will choreograph.  Three-time 2008 Helen Hayes Award nominee, Colin Bills will light a set designed by Misha Kaufman. 

Yehuda Hyman recently premiered his solo play, The Mad 7 at the McCarter Theater, directed by Mara Isaacs.  This newest work was based on his earlier piece The Mad Dancers: A Mystical Comedy with Ecstatic Dance, which received two Helen Hayes nominations when it ran at Theater J in 2003 as Liz Lerman’s directorial debut, co-directed with Nick Olcott. His other plays include Center of the Star, Swan Lake Calhoun, I Ask You, Ladies and Gentlemen (adapted from the novel by Leon Surmelian).  Honors include the Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Award; Heideman Award; grants from the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity and the National Foundation for Jewish Culture; a Jerome Fellowship, and an NEA/TCG Playwright-in-Residence Grant to work with Cornerstone Theater. He was an artist-in-residence at the Rhodopi Theater Collective in Bulgaria and is an affiliated artist with the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity.

Daniel Hoffman, who performed at Theater J in God’s Donkey and the concert reading of Shlemiel the First last year, as well as the full production this year, has received commissions from Theater J, Meet The Composer, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity, the Ashkenazi Festival of New Yiddish Culture in Toronto, Traveling Jewish Theatre, the San Diego Repertory Theater, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, and Theatre Company Jerusalem.  He wrote and performed in the comic musical Moonwatcher for Traveling Jewish Theatre in San Francisco and has written two new scores for the classic silent films, The Golem and Jewish Luck. He is co-founder of Davka, the Klez-X, and Trio Carpion, and has earned a reputation as a leading innovator in Jewish music and one of the foremost experts of the Yiddish violin style.

Following every Sunday 3:00 pm matinee performance, Theater J will offer a series of Artistic Director’s Roundtable Discussions allowing the audience to further explore the issues and themes raised in the play.  All of these roundtables will be free to David in Shadow and Light ticket-holders. On May 11, the panel will feature a talk-back with the creative team: Librettist Yehuda Hyman, Composer Daniel Hoffman, Choreopgrapher Peter Dimuro and Director Nick Olcott, moderated by Artistic Director Ari Roth.  Other topics will include The Love that Surpassed the Love of Women: Intimations of Homosexuality in the Story of David and Jonathan and in the Bible Beyond; The Building of Jerusalem and the Continuing Controversy over the City of David; Components of Charisma: Leadership and Political Character in Today's Political Campaigns as Reflected in the Reign of David; Interpreting David: Scholarly Approaches to Teaching the Story of the Controversial King; David Belongs To Many: An Interfaith Exchange on King David's Place in World Religion; and David the Musician and Biblical influence on Classical and Contemporary Music.  For updated information on dates and panelists, please check our website, theaterj.org. 

This production is part of the community-wide Israel @ 60 Celebration and is the annual Arthur Tracy “The Street Singer” Endowment Fund production.

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