Justin Peck, Sufjan Stevens, and Jackie Sibblies Drury Team Up For New Musical

New York

Justin Peck | Photo: Maria Baranova

Dan Meyer
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March 10, 2023 2:36 PM

Talk about a powerhouse collaboration. Indie rock star Sufjan Stevens has teamed up with Tony-winning choreographer-director Justin Peck and Pulitzer Prize–winning playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury for a new musical based on the musician’s 2005 concept album Illinois.

A journey through Americana, Illinois offer a glimpse of the state’s people, landscapes, and history—complete with UFOs, zombies, and predatory wasps. Featuring new arrangements of the entire album for a live band and three voices, the music ranges in style from DIY folk and indie rock to marching band and ambient electronics.

Illinois will run as part of The Fisher Center at Bard’s SummerScape programming, with performances set over two weekends, June 23-25 and June 30-July 2, at the Sosnoff Theater in upstate New York. Plans for a fully staged production at a Chicago theatre will be announced shortly; a workshop and rehearsal process took place earlier this year.

Ricky Ubeda, Byron Tittle, Gaby Diaz, and Jada German in rehearsals for Illinois | Photo: Maria Baranova

The company’s 20th anniversary season is titled Breaking Ground, a celebration of the artists, audiences, students, faculty, and communities that have written the Fisher Center’s story for its first two decades and will imagine it into the future.

Throughout 2023, the Fisher Center will also develop and present new works from artists and companies including Bread and Puppet Theater; Elevator Repair Service; Lisa Fischer; Beth Gill; Tanya El Khoury; Neil Gaiman; Jean-Romain Vesperini and Leon Botstein; and more.

In addition, The Fisher Center LAB Biennial, May 4–7, this year is devoted to the politics of land and food; and the 33rd Bard Music Festival explores British composer Vaughan Williams and his world, with programming August 4–13.

Ben Cook and Ricky Ubeda | Photo: Maria Baranova

“In 2002, the Fisher Center was a blank canvas, a story waiting to be discovered. Over the past 20 years, that story has been powerfully written by artists, facility, students, and audiences alike,” says Gideon Lester, the Fisher Center’s artistic director and chief executive. “Hundreds of remarkable works have premiered in the LUMA and Sosnoff Theaters, and performances have also taken place on Frank Gehry’s steel roof, in storage rooms and backstage corridors, and even in the bathrooms. The building has been animated and repurposed in countless ways, and it is still teaching us how to use it.”

For more information, click here.  Be sure to check out more images from rehearsals on Theatrely's Instagram here.

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Dan Meyer

After 4 years in the biz, Dan swapped out theatre for sports and is now a researcher at NBC Olympics. Spectacle remains a key passion and is dedicated to building bridges between different forms of entertainment. He has worked as a writer and editor at Theatrely and Playbill, covering Broadway and beyond. In addition, he has been published in Rolling Stone, Spy, and others.