“Raise it, raise it: we can sing about our country for free!” Twenty triple threat artists and a five-piece band will bring an inspiring new musical based on historic events to life in January. Presented by Dreamtone Productions in association with NewYorkRep, the world premiere of Singing Revolution: The Musical tells the story of cursed lovers against the beautiful, moving and timeless true story of the 1987 peaceful uprising in Estonia against the Soviet Union.
With a Europop score much appreciated by Tony Spinosa, who also conducts; book and lyrics by Spinosa and James Bearhart; musical direction by Brent Crayon; and choreography by Tracey Benson, opening night is scheduled for Saturday January 15 on the main stage of Hollywood’s Broadwater Theater, where performances will continue through February 20.
Located in Talinn, Estonia and spanning four decades, Singing Revolution is inspired by the real events that led to Estonia’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. This small country’s journey to freedom through the power of song reminds us all that the power of peaceful resistance can change the world.
“When I first heard about the ‘singing revolution’ in Estonia, a light bulb lit up in my head,” says Spinosa. “People who literally sing as a shield against Soviet attacks is a story I knew I had to tell.”
“Once we found out that I was working on this musical, TV shows started approaching me for interviews,” he continues. “I was introduced to the Estonian consul in New York, who put me in touch with the Estonian Minister of Culture in Tallinn. I was able to interview many leaders of the Singing Revolution, most of whom are still alive. and still live in Estonia. With their help I started to discover the passion and integrity of Estonian culture and the heart of the story of this musical. “
In the play, Estonian student Taavi Tamm, who would later become an Estonian resistance leader (James Everts, seen in Chicago for Plan-B Entertainment and Newsies at Candlelight Pavilion), falls in love with Sofia, daughter of a Soviet officer (Bella Hicks: Sweet Charity for Reprise 2.0, American Idiot at La Mirada). Meanwhile, Taavi teacher Leena (Krista Feallock: All Shook Up at the San Diego Musical Theater, Allegory at La Jolla Playhouse WOW Fest) and her Russian colleague Viktor (Lucas Alifano, recently seen in Death of a Salesman at the Ruskin Group Theater) find themselves drawn to each other in the same way. Michael Scott Harris (Ragtime with Musical Theater West, Shooting Star at the Hudson) plays Sofia’s father, Soviet commander Nikolai Solokov. Renée Wylder (The Last Five Years at Cupcake Theater, Little Women: The Musical and Daddy Long Legs at PCPA in Santa Maria) and Adam Wylie (Into the Woods on Broadway, Wicked at the Pantages, Brad Langford on Gilmore Girls) play the parents by Taavi, with Wylie dubbing the role of Joseph Stalin – alongside Anthony Marciona (Broadway / nationally touring productions of Gypsy, Zorba, Tommy, Starlight Express, Bronco Billy and Ballroom) as Vladimir Lenin and Peter Van Norden (2019 Ovation Award for Best Actor in The Hothouse at the Antaeus, Ovation 2020 nomination for Best Featured Actor in Red Ink at Playwright’s Arena) as Mikhail Gorbachev.
The ensemble, appearing as Students, Patriots, Soldiers and more, includes Emily Abeles, Melanie Au-Yeung, Lacey Beegun, Mitchell Lam Hau, Thomas Hollow, Brandon Kallen, Marissa Ruth Mayer, Chet Norment, Brandon Keith Rogers, Michael Swain-Smith and Kelsey Lee Smith.
The new and exciting Europop score of the musical will appeal to anyone who enjoys K-Pop and the Eurovision Song Contest. The live band includes musical director Crayon and Jennifer Lin on keyboards; Carlos Rivera on bass; John Ballinger on guitar; and Emiliano Almeida on drums.
As part of the development process, songs from Singing Revolution: The Musical were premiered at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Estonia’s 100th Anniversary Celebration in New York, and the Council Estonian-American national in Washington, DC.
The creative team for the production at Broadwater includes set designer David Goldstein; costume designer Alex Jaeger; lighting designer Andrew Schmedake; sound designer Cricket S. Myers; projection designer Nicholas E. Santiago; real estate designer Jenine MacDonald; graphic designer Kiff Scholl, AFK Design; and casting directors Michael Donovan, CSA and Richie Ferris, CSA. Orchestrations are by Harrison Beck, with additional orchestrations by Brent Crayon. The director of development is Jamie Monahan. The production manager is Karen Schleifer. Racquel Lehrman, Theater Planners produced for Dreamtone Productions.
“Singing Revolution” is a commonly used name for the nonviolent movement that led to the restoration of the independence of the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in 1991 from the Soviet Union. From 1987, Estonians engaged in a series of mass protests, including spontaneously singing national songs banned during the Soviet occupation. Raising the banned Estonian flag while rallying en masse and singing forbidden patriotic songs, the movement eventually won the support of the ruling Communist Party of the republic by challenging Moscow, confronting Soviet tanks and successfully declaring the independence of Estonia.
Performances of Singing Revolution: The Musical are on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 3 p.m., from January 15 to February 20. There will be two preview performances on Thursday January 13 and Friday January 14, each at 8 p.m. All tickets are $ 40, except previews, which are $ 30. The main stage of the Broadwater Theater is located at 6320 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90038. Proof of vaccination is required for admission. Masks must be worn throughout the show. For reservations and information, visit chantrevolutionthemusical.com.