A musical fantasia set in the hypnotized mind of Sergei Rachmaninoff
Lincoln Center Theater 3
New York City
June - August 2015
Full Cast Album here
*Four 2016 Lucille Lortel Nominations: Oustanding Actor (Gabriel Ebert) and Outstanding Featured Actress/Actor (Eisa Davis, Or Matias, Chris Sarandon)*
“Critic's Pick...Writer’s block turns out to be a lot more inspiring than you could ever have imagine —and sad and stirring and gloriously fun. In Preludes, Dave Malloy makes beautiful music out of a composer’s three years of creative silence…Rach’s pain is also our pleasure for the two phantasmagorical hours of this walls-bursting chamber work. Mr. Malloy and Ms. Chavkin have delivered the best musical about art’s agonies since Georges Seurat wielded a twitchy paintbrush in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Sunday in the Park With George. Mr. Malloy is the exuberant talent behind Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 and the enchanting concert piece Ghost Quartet. As a songwriter, he incorporates wildly diverse sources—classical, folk, electro-pop—into a form that exists defiantly beyond the quotation marks of postmodernism. He’s that rarity, a smart sentimentalist whose self-consciousness about his feelings in no way dilutes them. His embrace of Rachmaninoff, in all his emotional excesses, is that of a deeply empathic fan…
Along with Fun Home and the soaring, Broadway-bound Hamilton, this smashing production says that the American musical is not only not dead but also growing luxuriantly in places you never expected."
-Ben Brantley, New York Times
"I want to say a special word about Dave Malloy’s Preludes, because it is the work of an artist who is not afraid to try things, or to create worlds that haven’t necessarily been seen before, and, trust me, this is more unusual than you think...Billed as a “musical fantasia set in the hypnotized mind of Sergei Rachmaninoff,” the piece takes place in Moscow, in 1900. Rach (Gabriel Ebert—tall, delicate, and focussed) is blocked...we’re taken with Ebert straight off. He occupies the role, but he doesn’t “suffer” in a way that feels theatrical—he knows that being blocked doesn’t look big; rather, it eats away at the soul, and makes you feel small. Whenever he’s in Natalya’s (the true and charming Nikki M. James) comforting presence, however, Ebert grows a bit, just as he does when his good buddy, the legendary basso Feodor Chaliapin (the sexy and certain Joseph Keckler), takes him on a trip to meet Tolstoy, one of Rach’s gods. Turns out Tolstoy is no guru or savior—he doesn’t even much like Beethoven’s music, let alone Rachmaninoff’s. For Sergei, then, the world is a nightmare of injury and indecision.
...it is very, very difficult to dramatize being blocked for over two hours. Malloy’s music and lyrics, all so imaginative, stylized, and authentic to the characters and the situations, struggle with this—he’s pushing hard against the plot’s delicacies, and the protagonist’s, in order to make a show. Yet he has made a show, and it’s crammed with more ideas that it can handle, and when is the last time you were able to say of a contemporary musical that it’s an embarrassment of riches?"
-Hilton Als, The New Yorker