SPITTOONIA ON THE ERIE
Picture the classic story of Cinderella. But the American folktale version. As improvised at bedtime by a dad whose sense of humor is not appreciated by his ten-year-old daughter. He ends up spinning a funhouse ride of a story that bounces between Grimm fairytales, the satire of Candide, and the self-referential cheekiness of The Princess Bride.
DAVID MALLAMUD (Music)
David Mallamud has composed for venues ranging from Carnegie Hall to Off-Broadway, where his music for the recent production of Flight School: The Musical was lauded by Laurel Graeber of the New York Times as the show’s “biggest boon . . . variously embracing classical lyricism, pulsing pop, the poignant ballad and at least one all-out, Alice Cooper–style rock rant.”
Recently Mallamud was thrilled to work with Mike Mills (of R.E.M. fame), arranging and composing additional music for his Concerto for Rock Band and Violin (Toronto Symphony). It toured the US and is about to embark on second tour in which Chuck Leavell of the Rolling Stones will join the band.
Other projects include: Dr. Seuss’s The Sneetches The Musical with playwright Philip Dawkins, (Children’s Theatre Company, Minneapolis); Flight School, The Musical which has had several off-broadway runs, two US tours, and is currently touring China; and Kid Frankenstein, which ran Off-Broadway and has an upcoming production at The Millbrook Playhouse; he is currently developing projects with Nathan Christensen, Fred Sauter, and Trav S.D.
An active classical composer, his music has been performed by many classical ensembles including: The Albany Symphony, The New World Symphony, The Harrisburg Symphony, and The Westchester Philharmonic.
His acclaimed CD, The Wild & Whimsical Worlds of David Mallamud (Broadway Records), won a Broadway World Album Award for Best New Compilation. It earned praise from Amy Biancolli (Albany’s Times Union), “The sum is an album of music conceived for imaginary stages in imaginary worlds, but rendered like old hands, with all the relaxed brio of a Broadway cast album. Whether aching or upbeat, whether evoking Disney or Bernstein or Tin Pan Alley or "Tommy," the music is delightful. It's also insane. There's a nuttiness to the whole thing, a kind of crazed enthusiasm....”
A MacDowell Fellow, a Dramatist Guild Fellow, A Leonard Bernstein Fellow (Tanglewood), two ASCAP Morton Gould Awards, and a Charles Ives Scholarship from The American Academy of Arts and Letters. He hold degrees from Juilliard, Eastman, and Tisch, and pursued additional graduate studies at Yale.
NATHAN CHRISTENSEN (Book, Lyrics)
Nathan Christensen is a playwright and bookwriter/lyricist. He earned an MFA in musical theatre writing from New York University, and his musical theatre work has been honored with a Richard Rodgers Award, a Jonathan Larson Award, a Daryl Roth Award, a Dramatists Guild Fellowship, and an O’Neill Theater Center residency.
His musical adaptation of Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver, written with composer Scott Murphy, was featured at the NAMT Festival of New Musicals, as has been seen in musical theatre festivals across the country. Their musical Broadcast, a panoramic history of radio, has been performed at Playwrights Horizons in New York City, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Wesleyan University in Connecticut.
His play The Battle Creek Cure was performed as part of the Tallgrass Theater Festival. He is currently writing a holiday play titled The Winter Visitors, and collaborating with composer David Mallamud on a steampunk adaptation of a Jules Verne novel.
Nathan has also been a concert violinist, tutored Kazakhstani jewelers in entrepreneurship, produced a live comedy review show, served as a missionary in South Korea, conducted experiments in sonoluminescence, written greeting cards, co-founded an exotic fruit-growing business, composed a women’s jazz quartet that is performed around the world, and was a theater critic in Tucson, Arizona. He and his wife co-authored Keeping Kyrie, a memoir about the experience of adopting six children, one of whom was born with a life-threatening birth defect called Pierre Robin Sequence.
It’s bedtime, and 10-year-old Molly is insisting that, if her dad wants to tell her a story, he needs to stick to an authorized, published fairytale, like “Cinderella”, rather than this improvised nonsense he usually comes up with. But when Dad explains that he actually knows the original American version of the Cinderella story, Molly is curious, and cautiously lets him begin his tale.
The story’s heroine is named Spittoonia. (“No, it makes total sense!” insists Dad when Molly objects. “Cinderella was named for the cinders she had to sweep. What do you think the American Cinderella would have to clean?”) She lived in Ashenpuddle, New York, on the banks of the newly completed Erie Canal. Like her European counterpart, Spittoonia lived with a pair of stepsisters (who were also suffragists, vegetarians, teetotalers, spiritualists and just basically made everyone around them feel inferior). When they would demand she perform chores around the house, like rendering the lard and delousing the silverware, she would instead sit by the canal and weep dramatically. Until, of course, the day the canal spoke back, promising to bring Governor Dewitt Clinton’s party barge to Ashenpuddle, if that would just stop Spittoonia from salting up her water with all those tears for a few minutes.
And so begins a hilarious romp that even wins over Molly in the end (though she would never admit it). In her quest to find love and avoid work, Spittoonia crosses paths with enchanted muskrats, a cheese boat, the ghost of George Washington, an overly effective séance, questionable medical advice, the Mattress King, and a passive aggressive maid who is sure that she is the true heroine of the story.
“Spittoonia on the Erie” was a grand, boppy, punny creation that showed off his gifts for melody and song and kept the crowd laughing."
Geraldine Freedman, The Daily Gazette
“…you could almost feel yourself traveling back in time to the 1800s. Each movement of the musical theater piece received huge applause from the audience."
Connor Hoffman, Union-Sun & Journal