Yesterday I was thrilled to see the workshop production of César Alvarez’s new musical, NOISE, at Adelphi University Performing Arts Center. The Larson Legacy Concert (in association with the American Theater Wing showcases some of the annual recipients of the Jonathan Larson Grant given to rising musical theater composers and lyricists.
NOISE is an interactive theater experience where the actors and the audience are united to hear the “noise.” A unique aspect of the production was the random changing order of the play, accomplished by choosing numbers pulled from a bag, making each performance entirely different. With every new random number, actors had to rearrange audience members on the stage and scramble to get props and move sets. The actors were really on their game.
Inspired by Noise: The Political Economy of Music, the nonfiction book by French economist and scholar Jacques Attali. César uses his concepts to inform the structure and language of the play. Through the history of music, he engages how society creates systems to organize, divide and separate people from experiencing, hearing, and appreciating the noise.
The actors moved, stomped, sang, and spoke while engaging the audience to confront our presumptions and judgments that inform all our decisions. The message was cerebral, while the messengers (the actors) were funny, animated, engaging, and full of life.
César Alvarez is a composer/lyricist/librettist whose musical FUTURITY received the 2016 Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical. César also received the 2016 Jonathan Larson Award.