Powerhouse OFF-BROADWAY REVIEWS

Photo: Justin Khalifa
  • NY TIMES

  • Opening Night:
    November 3, 2014
    Closing:
    November 23, 2014

    Theater: New Ohio Theatre / 154 Christopher St, New York, New York, 10014

    Synopsis: 

    Sinking Ship Productions’ new devised play Powerhouse uses physical theater, music, and puppetry to tell the story of brilliant, idiosyncratic composer and electronic music pioneer Raymond Scott. Inspired by swing music, animated cartoons and futuristic machines, Powerhouse takes the audience inside the mind of Raymond Scott. He wrote fast-paced, tightly orchestrated compositions, attempting to reinvent swing in the 1930s. Wildly successful in his own time, his music would be completely forgotten were it not for its use in countless Looney Tunes cartoons of the 1940s and 1950s. But Scott never watched a cartoon in his life. Informed by interviews with family members and colleagues, and dozens of phone calls recorded by Scott, Powerhouse spins a kaleidoscopic, kinetic story about creativity and the chasm between what an artist imagines and what his audience perceives.

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  • NEW YORK TIMES REVIEW OF Powerhouse

    A Man Whose Music Animated Looney Tunes

    Andy Webster

    November 10, 2014: Powerhouse, an electrifying account of the life of the composer Raymond Scott at the New Ohio Theater, kicks off in 1936 with the cast executing a jitterbug while Scott (Erik Lochtefeld) conducts his quintet on radio’s “Your Hit Parade.” From there, the show hurtles forward, sustaining the controlled mad dash of the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoons that adapted Scott’s music. Scott (1908-1994) had eccentric ideas: He believed in telepathy; despite his roots in swing, he discouraged improvisation from his bands; and his lifelong passion for technology led him on a quest to invent the electronium, a machine that could compose and perform music on its own. According to the show — written by Josh Luxenberg with the Sinking Ship Ensemble — he was also a control freak, oblivious, in his one-track ambition, to social cues. Early on, the trumpeter Bunny Berigan (Tyler Bunch) storms out of a recording session, exasperated with Scott’s perfectionism. Later, Scott’s wives — Pearl (a patient, sensible Jessica Frey); the singer Dorothy Collins (Hanley Smith, deftly evolving from ingénue to sturdy professional); and Mitzi (a gracious Clare McNulty) — are tested by his infinite distractibility.

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