New Musical MIDNIGHT IN THE GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL at the Goodman Theatre
Today, Artistic Director Susan V. Booth announced that Chicago will be first to experience the new musical Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil—based on John Berendt’s iconic non-fiction book—next summer. With a book by MacArthur “Genius” Grantee Taylor Mac and music and lyrics by Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown, the world-premiere production will be directed by Tony Award winner Rob Ashford, with choreography by Tanya Birl and sets by Christopher Oram. Berendt’s 1994 blockbuster book, a Pulitzer-Prize finalist that was on the New York Times Best-Seller list for 216 weeks and was adapted for Clint Eastwood's 1997 film of the same name, is the story of a socially prominent Savannah, Georgia, antiques dealer who was tried, and retried, for murder.
“I’m proud to build on the Goodman’s legacy of nurturing important new works of the American musical theatre with a new musical based on John Berendt’s seductive, memorable book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil—an enduring popular sensation for three decades. Some of the smartest, wildly talented creative artists working in theater today convene for this project, and I’m eager to welcome everyone here,” said Susan V. Booth, whose first curated season as Goodman Artistic Director begins in September with The Nacirema Society by Pearl Cleage, along with a citywide celebration of the award-winning author.
Said Rob Ashford, “I am a huge fan of John Berendt’s terrific book—and of its star, the beautiful city of Savannah! When asked if I’d be interested in helping tell that story onstage, I pinched myself and then said ‘absolutely!’ I can’t imagine anyone bringing these unique and wonderful characters to life in words and music better than Taylor Mac and Jason Robert Brown.”
“Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was a seminal book for me as a young queer person, coming out in the late 1980s and early 90s,” said Taylor Mac. “The eccentricities of Savannah, and how they were celebrated by such a large readership, seemed to say, the things that made me odd and an outcast in the world were actually things I should cherish. Likewise, musical theatre has always had a similar effect on me. Singing our thoughts is such an eccentric way of expressing ourselves—yet so perfectly aligned with my personal liberation and joy. So turning Midnight into a musical, and with such master craftspeople as Jason, Rob and Tanya is essentially an extension of celebrating the joy and liberation from exposing what’s hidden.”
“When I am deciding to start a new show, the two most important questions I ask myself are: 1) Does it sing? and 2) Do I get to work with fun people? With Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I knew the answers to both questions immediately,” said Jason Robert Brown. “The book’s milieu, so rich with mystery and romance and history, sings with every sentence, deeply passionate, slyly comic, emotions threatening to boil over on every page. And to work with Rob Ashford, whose transformative production of Parade at the Donmar Warehouse in 2007 reinvigorated not only the show’s reputation but my creative process, was a no-brainer. But then add to that the brilliant, joyful, radically inclusive mind of Taylor Mac, and there was no way I could resist. Creating this world with these mad geniuses is, in true Savannah tradition, a grand and great party. I can’t wait for the world to join in.”
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