BYU will premiere a new musical on Feb. 10, 2016 in de Jong Concert Hall. “The Bridge” was written by Stuart Maxfield, the lead singer of Fictionist, and his brother, BYU adjunct professor Andrew Maxfield.
The show is based on Ambrose Bierce’s short story “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,’ written in 1890. It tells the story of a Confederate sympathizer who is sentenced to hang for committing a war crime.
“The Bridge” combines rock opera with musical theatre. The songs will be played and sung by Stuart and backed by BYU Jazz Ensemble, Jazz Vocal Ensemble and a string quartet. The songs are meant to act like the chorus in a Greek play, according to Andrew, the show’s producer and lyricist; they comment on the story’s plot and themes.
The story will also be told through video and images projected onto a screen as well as dance and theater movements by four actors/dancers, according to the show’s director Christopher Clark. There will be no dialogue.
The idea for this collaborative show began a year ago after BYU Jazz Ensemble performed with Fictionist in the de Jong according to Andrew. School of Music Assistant Director, Mark Ammons, talked to Andrew and Stuart about doing another show.
“Stuart and I got excited,” Andrew said. “We wanted to make something new and theatrically interesting.”
Andrew called writer Glen Nelson and ask what ideas he had for a stage production. Glen remembered reading “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” in college and suggested it to Andrew. Glen wrote the production script after they agreed to base it on that story.
Christopher, chairman of UVU’s theatre department, said he read the short story as a BYU English Major.
The show is not blocked yet, but Christopher said there will be dance scenes and strictly theatrical movement scenes performed by the four dancers. He said his goal is for the staging to sufficiently tell the story on its own. He said he mainly does traditional musicals but loves this kind of theatre and seizes the chance to participate in it when he can.
This will be Christopher’s first time working in de Jong Concert Hall and his first time on a BYU stage since graduating.
“I think it’s going to be very exciting, really innovative, interesting and touching and will have some really cool elements coming together. I love this kind of theatre; it’s my favorite,” Christopher said.
Stuart said he wrote the main music tracks while Andrew handled the orchestra arrangements. He said he wrote the songs to reflex the story arc. He described the music vibe as close to M83, some deep house music, bjork and grimes.
“We are using the jazz ensemble, but what we are doing couldn’t be farther from Jazz,” Start said. “The ensemble will be adding color and interest to the electronic arrangements.”
Mark said students in the jazz ensemble got excited when Andrew described the show to them. He said musicians often do collaborative performances like “The Bridge” in the professional world but seldom have the opportunity in college.
“I want them to get excited by the experience of seeing a new kind of musical with this extended musical ensemble on stage with the live acting and projections. It should just be a really exciting, fun experience,” Mark said.
Andrew said he wants the audience to emotionally connect with and enjoy seeing a new kind of musical. He said the students involved in the production should have a great mentoring experience.
“This excites me as a person who loves education,” Andrew said.
Andrew taught Music 286, an entrepreneurship class for artists, at BYU for three years.
“Students who are witnessing this thing go up ought to see an arts business project in real time,” Andrew said. “Hopefully they will see somebody who may have been their professor practicing what he preaches by working hard to create cool stuff that people love.”
The performance is half-way sold out with tickets purchased via the musical’s website. Tickets will continue selling through the musical’s website and start selling through the HFAC ticket office, phone number (801) 422-2981 and website on Saturday, Nov. 21.