Thursday, September 11, 2014

New musical about Louise Brooks

There is a new musical loosely inspired by Louise Brooks called Hi Alba! The musical was created in June 2014 by the students and staff of the Lovewell Institute in partnership with the Short North Stage in Columbus, Ohio. [ Here is a link to its original production in June by high school students at the Garden Theater in Columbus:]

Hi Alba! A New Musical tells a story of Louise Brooks’ rise to fame and the stagehand who saw her and never forgot her. The inspiration for the musical was a drawing found on the backstage wall of the Garden Theater in Columbus. The drawing, by a stagehand named Alba Cummings, is thought by some to be of Louise Brooks. Shown below is a photo of the drawing.

According to the Short North Stage website, Alba was a stage hand at the Garden Theatre in the 1920's, "and a man smitten." A World War I veteran and a lifelong bachelor, he returned home after the war and took a job at the theater, where in 1924 a young dancer caught his eye. On December 19, 1924, "Alba was so inspired by his muse that he drew an elegantly simple, but nonetheless beautiful sketch of her on a wall backstage." The drawing was discovered some 87 years later.

One of the most compelling songs from the musical, "Capture Me," imagines the the circumstances around the drawing of the picture. A rather charming clip can be seen below.

Though a sweet story, the facts don't align with Brooks' life. The Garden Theater opened in 1920, but  was not the venue in Columbus where Brooks and the Denishawn Dance Company performed while touring the country. That was Memorial Hall on March 8th and November 24th in 1923.  Nevertheless, there is a charming poetry to this musical story which suggests Louise Brooks continuing appeal in the 21st century.. 

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