American Cantata

by  John Sanford, Dennis Poore, Elaine Moe, Elaine Kendall

Musical Revue / Cabaret, Drama  /  1m, 5f

"Rarely, if ever, do plays celebrate their subject matter as well...American Cantata easily won my vote as the best celebration of American womanhood in recent reckoning." -The East Villager
A celebration in music and drama of the spirit and imagination of American women; covering three centuries of their triumphs and tragedies.

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    1m, 5f
  • Duration

    Duration

    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Docudrama/Historic
  • Accolades

    Accolades

    From Off-Broadway
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Senior
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

A celebration in music and drama of the spirit and imagination of American women; covering three centuries of their triumphs and tragedies. The vignettes, virtually all accompanied by original songs, portray Sally Hemmings, the slave who bore children to Thomas Jefferson; Molly Maguire, 19tth century labor firebrand; Mary Surratt, accused in the Lincoln conspiracy; Elizabeth Custer, wife of the General; the innovative dancer Isadora Duncan; singer Bessie Smith; stateswoman Golda Meir; singer/dancer Josephine Baker; Eleanor and Alice Roosevelt; artist Georgia O'Keefe and 12 other notable, quotable and remarkable women. Dramatic unity is provided by the narrator John Sanford, author of the book from which the vignettes were chosen. Scenes include the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, in which twelve dozen girls perished, and many other historical milestones in which women played significant roles. The musical deals with exceptional lives in the arts. politics, entertainment,and science.
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Reviews

"Rarely, if ever, do plays celebrate their subject matter as well...American Cantata easily won my vote as the best celebration of American womanhood in recent reckoning." - The East Villager

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Senior Theatre
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups

Cautions

  • No Special Cautions

License details

  • Licensing fees and rental materials quoted upon application.

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 18th Century, 19th Century, Present Day, 1930s, 1920s, 1910s / WWI, 1900-1910, American Civil War Era
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: Unit set, simple but versatile. Era changes can be indicated by props and costumes. Long skirts for 18th and 19th centuries, short skirts or pants for contemporary looksl. Male narrator would wear contemporary sport jacket with open shirt.
  • Additional Features: Play w/ Music
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes, Period Costumes

Music

  • Musical Style: Classic Broadway, Jazz, Folk, Operetta
  • Vocal Demands: Moderate
  • Orchestra Size: Piano Only
  • Chorus Size: No Chorus

Casting

1m, 5f
JULIAN - a writer, male, Baritone-Tenor; plays all male roles
WOMAN ONE - Soprano; plays Ms. Blauvelt, Peggy’s Friend, Rosina Sacco, Survivor, Over and Past, Alice Roosevelt Longworth, Ensemble
WOMAN TWO - High Soprano; plays Molly Maguire, Maria Mitchell, Isadora Duncan, Over and Past, Protester, Ensemble
WOMAN THREE - Mezzo-Soprano; plays Sally Hemmings, Librarian, Witness, Bessie Smith, Josephine Baker, Ensemble, Polly Ann Henry (optional scene)
WOMAN FOUR - 2nd Soprano; plays Peggy S. Arnold, Dame Shirley, Baby Doe, Spectator, Golda Meir, Georgia O’Keeffe, Ensemble
WOMAN FIVE - 2nd Alto; plays Sister, Elizabeth Custer, Girlfriend, Editor, Ella Bloor, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marion Davies, Ensemble
PIANO - on stage
BASS - on stage (optional)
GUITAR - on stage (optional)
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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Reduced casting (Doubling Possible)
  • Expandable casting
  • Flexible casting
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)
  • Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle)

Casting Notes

NYC production was played by 1 male and 5 females. Other productions had as many women as desired by the company. The characters represent actual people at various stages of their lives, and can be ages from 20s to 50s or 60s, All women should be versatile singers. The narrator doesn't sing. The majority of women are between 20 and 40 at the time of their episodes. Age, however is not particularly important in this play.

Resources

Rehearsal Resources

Music Material Rental Packages Glyphs / UI / Tooltip

Full Package

7 Piano/Vocal Scores

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Authors

John Sanford

John Sanford

Dennis Poore

Dennis Poore is the composer of everything from European dance hits like "Strange Desire" and "Young Men" to the Julie Brown cult favorites "Cause I'm A Blond" and "Brand New Girl" from the film Earth Girls Are Easy. He was also nominated for a Clio for his Chase-Manhattan Bank jingle. In the ...

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Elaine Moe

Elaine Moe

Elaine Kendall

Elaine Kendall has written libretti and lyrics for musical shows, including An American Cantata  (publlished by Samuel French; produced in various venues throughout the US), The Would-be Diva (about Ganna Walska, c ...

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First produced at the Quaigue Theater, NYC.

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