“Big Jim” at Faison Firehouse Theater
The staged workshop or ‘atelier’ of “Big Jim & the Small-time Investors” took place on March 11 at the George Faison Firehouse Theater in Harlem under the auspices of the Center for Contemporary Opera. The first-rate cast included Vale Rideout at Jim, Aaron Theno as his assistant Stan, Colette Boudreaux as his wife Kim and Darynn Zimmer as his Mom, a chorus of eight, an instrumental ensemble featuring Bill Schimmel (accordion), Paula Kimper (sound design and electronics) and Peter Fancovic (piano), all directed by the excellent Steve Crawford. Although everyone was on book, there was a surprisingly effective amount of staging by Andrew Eggert. “Big Jim” is based on a libretto by Ned Jackson with a score by Eric Salzman. It’s a story about an L.A. con man who purports to have invented a virtual-reality machine that makes its users believe that their wildest fantasies are coming true. The character of Jim appears on screen or as a live hologram for most of the piece and the musical form is somewhere between music-theater and what we might call theater opera. The March 11th performance was a big step forward for this large-scale work which is edging its way towards a full production.
“Big Jim & the Small-time Investors” in staged reading
“Big Jim & the Small-time Investors”, Eric Salzman’s new music theater (or ‘theater opera’) work — libretto by Salzman and Ned Jackson — will have a staged reading on Tuesday, March 11, at 8 pm, at the George Faison Firehouse Theater, 6 Hancock Place in Manhattan. The following is the press release sent out by the producers: Scott Joiner and the Center for Contemporary Opera:
Trailblazing company brings cutting-edge opera to Harlem theater: CCO presents Big Jim & the Small-Time Investors at the Faison Firehouse Theater.
On Tuesday night at 8pm, the Center for Contemporary Opera (CCO) will present a semistaged performance of Eric Salzman’s cutting-edge opera, Big Jim & the Small-Time Investors, as part of their Development Series at Harlem’s Faison Firehouse Theater. The story of an L.A. Con-man who lures investors into his alternative reality technology scheme, this performance marks CCO’s first appearance in Harlem.
On Tuesday night (March 11) at 8pm, the Center for Contemporary Opera (CCO) will present a semi-staged performance of Eric Salzman’s cutting-edge opera, Big Jim & the Small-Time Investors, as part of their
Development Series at Harlem’s Faison Firehouse Theater.
“I’m really excited and happy to be pioneering the use of a theater in Harlem,” says Salzman, CCO’s Composer-in-Residence. Many of CCO’s recent performances have been at distinguished venues in Lower
Manhattan, Grammercy and the Upper West Side, making Tuesday’s performance at the Faison Firehouse new ground for the 32-year-old arts organization. As a founder of the New Music Theater movement, Salzman’s
works have been performed nationally and internationally by organizations like the New York Philharmonic, the American Music Theater Festival, La MaMa Experimental Theater, Theater for a New City, and have been
broadcast on NPR, BBC, WNYC and Channel 13.
“We’re absolutely thrilled to be bringing this kind of work to the Firehouse,” says the theater’s founder, Tony and Emmy Award-winning choreographer, dancer and director, George Faison. “This is emblematic of our
commitment to bringing contemporary performing arts to Harlem audiences.” Faison and Salzman met in Philadelphia on a production for the American Music Theater Festival (which Salzman co-founded) in the late
80’s. According to an article in the Daily News, Faison bought the abandoned firehouse in 1999 on Hancock Place off 125th St., renovated it over time and inaugurated the theater in 2007.
‘Big Jim’ King, the title character in Tuesday night’s performance, claims to have invented a virtual reality machine which allows users to experience their own wildest fantasies. The character, who appears to his
followers via digital projection, walks the line between con-man and cult leader, luring investors into his operation. His plan spirals out of control threatening to ruin the Investors and promising disaster for Jim’s wife,
Kim, and his assistant, Stan. In this digital world, Big Jim’s story resonates now more than ever.
Composer Eric Salzman has brought this dramatic character to life with the help of librettist, Edgar Jackson. Andrew Eggert directs and Metropolitan Opera veteran Steven Crawford conducts an all-star cast featuring
Vale Rideout, Aaron Theno, Colette Boudreaux, and Darynn Zimmer in addition to an ensemble featuring world-renowned accordionist Bill Schimmel.
Looking for the Faison Firehouse Theater? Take the A,B,C or D train to 125th St., walk south one block on Manhattan Avenue and turn right on W. 124th Street. 6 Hancock Place is on the left just after the junction of W.
124th and Hancock.
WHAT: Big Jim & the Small-Time Investors
WHEN: Tuesday, March 11th at 8pm.
WHERE: Faison Firehouse Theater – 6 Hancock Place, New York, NY 10027
For more information call the Faison Firehouse at (212) 665-7716.
Tickets are $20, and will be available at the door or at: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/584614
Center for Contemporary Opera
Center for Contemporary Opera