Opera@Morgan announces a musical based on events in the life of music legend BALTIMORE, MD – Opera@Morgan—the opera company of Morgan State University—announces a the production of a full-length musical based on events in the life of legendary jazz pianist and singer, Nat “King” Cole. Veteran, New York-based performer, James Rich wrote the script and will star in the lead role.
Four performances are scheduled between November 18- 19, 2016. The production features 14 tracks, and borrows its title from the opening lyrics to “Nature Boy,” a song first recorded by Cole in 1948 and which proved pivotal in Nat King Cole’s jettison to wide acclaim. His popularity made Cole a pioneer (e.g. he was the first African American to have his own television show). With music arranged by Grammy-nominee Matt Falker, this production of THERE WAS A BOY is the fully-realized production a 2015 staged reading in partnership with Opera@Morgan, and coincides with Morgan State University’s sesquicentennial and the 50th anniversary of Cole’s untimely death. Also of note is the fact that Nat “King” Cole was a 1963 recipient of an honorary doctorate degree from Morgan State (then) College. “There Was A Boy” is set against the backdrop of Nat King Cole’s rise to fame during the ‘Capitol Record years’ (1943-1965), telling is the story of a boy who falls in love with “the world” while longing for his father’s approval. The production is brought to life through a narrative sermon – by Nat’s Baptist preacher father – about a shy musician who loves music, desires the world, and longs for his father’s approval. The Reverend’s sermon also reveals his innermost feelings about his own “prodigal” pop star son.
“There Was a Boy” was conceived and written by James Rich, who is a New York-based actor/singer/playwright. Rich’s piece has been a work-in-progress for a little more than 10 years and is now a ready-for-stage musical. Rich—a veteran of Broadway, the “small stage” and television — explains that, starting in the 1980’s, he was often told that he “sounds like Nat King Cole/his voice and style are evocative of Nat King Cole . . .” Rich’s drive to know more about the pop icon, took him to ever-increasing levels of research. Rich’s research revealed that his own life and Nat King Cole’s life have many parallels; and Rich’s research notes and outlines yielded the makings of a compelling story and script. Rich shares: “I relate to Nat Cole. We are both from Alabama and come from religious families. The challenges that he and I faced are so similar. I want There Was a Boy to tell the story of a person who was an extraordinary interpreter of music—and who was a son, a father and a brother. ” The artistic team consists of: James Rich – director and lead role; Matt Falker – music and vocal arrangements; Vincent Dion Stringer – artistic direction; Lester Green, Jr. – music direction. Two performances each day are scheduled for November 18th and 19th . Tickets ($25 for General Admission / Groups of 10 or more: $15, with other discount types as well) are available for in-person purchase at the Murphy Fine Arts Center Ticket Office (443-885-4440) and through Ticketmaster.com and Charge-by-Phone (800-551-SEAT). James Rich and Matt Falker are available for live or recorded interviews.
About James Rich James Rich is a veteran of Broadway, performing the lead role (Benny) in the first national tour of “Rent;” “Saturday Night Fever; in Off-Broadway, Regional Theatre, as backup singer on tour with Harry Belafonte, and lead singer for numerous bands/orchestras. He has also acted in national commercials and guest star roles on “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “As The World Turns.” He earned a B.F.A. from Syracuse University, School of Visual and Performing Arts. He has studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology; and was an assistant costume designer on the Emmy Award-winning Season 2 “Dancing With the Stars.”
See more at www.james-rich.com