The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt Scores Coraline Musical

posted April 5, 2009

The Magnetic Fields' Stephin Merritt Scores Coraline Musical

MCC Theater presents Coraline, a musical with music and lyrics by Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields. Merritt's delightfully creepy and playful melodies and droll lyrics tell the story of lonely Coraline's discovery of another parallel world that is identical to her own‹with some scary differences. An animated film version of the story, based on the popular children's book by Neil Gaiman (author of the international sensation Sandman and 2009 winner of the prestigious Newbery Award) is currently in theaters.

The production, which was adapted for the stage by celebrated downtown actor/playwright David Greenspan is the world premiere of Coraline for the stage. This world premiere event marks a first-ever musical offering by MCC Theater. Performances will begin at the Lucille Lortel Theatre (121 Christopher Street, NYC) on May 7 and continue through June 20, 2009. Opening night is set for Monday, June 1 at 7:00 P.M. Tickets are on sale now for $65. The opening night night will be broadcast streaming via Blip.tv as well. The DJ will be microblogging and posting photos.

In 1999, the Magnetic Fields' three-CD collection 69 Love Songs established Stephin Merritt as one of this generation's most talented songwriters. Between The Magnetic Fields releases, Merritt has released side projects and albums with his other bands, Future Bible Heroes, The 6ths and The Gothic Archies. Coraline is his first project since The Magnetic Fields' 2008 release, Distortion, which made numerous "best of" year-end lists including The New York Times, LA Times, Rolling Stone, Spin and The Washington Post. Merritt previously contributed the incidental music for the HarperCollins audiobook of Coraline. In 2006, he also released a full-length collection of songs to accompany Daniel Handler's Lemony Snicket books: The Gothic Archies: The Tragic Treasury: Songs from a Series of Unfortunate Events. His previous experience with the stage includes original music and lyrics for three theater pieces directed by Chen Shi-Zheng produced at Lincoln Center Festival and at Cal Arts. The New York Times called these collaborations "the start of an important partnership for the musical theater."

A musical like no other, the songs Merritt composed for Coraline are brought to life in a script written by David Greenspan, who also serves double-duty as the villainous Other Mother. Bringing it all together is acclaimed director Leigh Silverman (Yellowface, From Up Here, Well). The complete cast includes 55 year-old Tony Award-nominee Jayne Houdyshell (Well, The Receptionist) in the title role, with Julian Fleisher, Francis Jue, January LaVoy, Elliot Villar, and William Youmans.

Visit the MCC Theater's website to hear samples of Merritt's songs as well as a six-part weekly podcast series of interviews with the creative team of Coraline. Guests will include Stephin Merritt, Jayne Houdyshell, and David Greenspan.

The MCC Theater is one of New York City's leading Off Broadway theater companies, committed to presenting New York and world premieres each season. When MCC Theater was founded in 1986, its mission was simple: to bring new theatrical voices to theater-going audiences. MCC Theater continues to accomplish this yearly through presentation of its mainstage works; its Literary Program, which actively seeks and develops new and emerging writers and its Education & Outreach Program, allowing more than 1,200 students yearly to experience theater, increase literacy and discover their own voices in the arts. Notable MCC Theater highlights include: the 2004 Tony-winning production of Bryony Lavery's Frozen; Neil LaBute's Fat Pig; Rebecca Gilman's The Glory of Living; Marsha Norman's Trudy Blue; Margaret Edson's Pulitzer Prize-winning Wit; Tim Blake Nelson's The Grey Zone and Alan Bowne's Beirut. Over the years, the dedication to the work of new and emerging artists has earned MCC Theater a variety of awards. MCC Theater's production of Neil LaBute's reasons to be pretty is now in previews at Broadway's Lyceum Theatre for a Thursday, April 2 opening.