In 2003, a play called The Violet Hour, written by Richard Greenberg, premiered on Broadway. In 2018, writer Eric Price and composer Will Reynolds decided to turn the play into a musical.
“At the beginning of this year we got the rights to transform that play - which had sort of a disappointing initial run in New York City - to transform it into a musical, with the idea being that it will not only allow this story to have a second life but also perhaps the story can be enhanced and supported by music” Price said.
This isn’t the first time Price and Reynolds have collaborated.
“Will and I have written musicals together for about 14 years now. And The Violet Hour is a project that only began in 2018 when Utah Festival Opera offered us a commission," Price said. "And the commission allowed for us to write whatever we wanted, and Utah Festival Opera would produce a workshop this summer, with the intention of doing a full production in the 2019 season.”
The workshop helps directors and producers know what to expect when it comes time for the full performance in 2019.
“We started writing in earnest in January of this year, and we turned in our draft to the Utah Festival Opera at the top of June. So that’s six months of writing a full-length, two-act musical.” Reynolds said.
Price has been writing musicals his entire life, and has a degree in musical theatre writing.
“The play is set in 1919, on the cusp of the Jazz Age," he said. "And this was a period just after the end of World War I, that was filled with a great amount of optimism and hope for the future. The characters largely are all in their early 20s, looking at the century ahead with a great amount of buoyancy, and that seemed to naturally sing. But the nature of the plot of the show allows for the facts of what the 20th Century has in store to become known to the characters through sort of a science fiction time travel twist. That allowed for us to take music that at the start of the show sounds like the jazz age, and over the course of the whole narrative, allow the musical language of the show to grow up, just as the 20th Century grew up.”
This gives Reynolds room for creativity, supplying him with many ideas and styles for the composition.
“So the show is set in 1919 in New York and it is a jazz score," he said, "and what’s very freeing for me is that rather than saying it’s a jazz score - meaning everything has to sound exactly like something authentically from that time period because we are using time as our motor and the juice of our thematic statement - I’m able to dabble into things that sound like the period but also sound like things that lean more to now, and things that sound like combinations of the two, so I’m not handcuffed by the period.”
The show is scheduled to premiere in Logan, Utah during next year’s Utah Festival Opera’s season.