'Big Red Sun' dawns. Whenever a musical world-premieres here, it's a triumph over huge odds.
So hurray for Big Red Sun, running through June 17 at Christ Church Neighborhood Center. After more than a decade's work, all those drafts and tweaks and workshops, John Jiler (book and lyrics) and Georgia Stitt (music) at last have found a musical soulmate in the 11th Hour Theatre Company. Portions and iterations of Big Red Sun have played in town in recent years, including a concert reading by 11th Hour in 2016.
Jiler and Stitt first met in 1997, when his a cappella musical Avenue X was at the Wilma. In 2004, he came to her with an idea. "I was inspired by the story of my dad, who came home after World War Two, when culture and music were changing so rapidly. We went from Glenn Miller in a powder blue tux to Jimi Hendrix playing the guitar with his teeth in about five minutes," Jiler says. "He came home from the war and said, 'What happened to my Jerome Kern and Cole Porter? What is all this disturbing jazz and rock and roll?' "
In Big Red Sun, musician Harry Daimler roams the land, searching for the truth about his father and himself. It's also a journey through our musics, from klezmer through swing through early rock and roll. The 11th Hour folks are busy rehearsing as I write:
Stitt has been watching the 11th Hour dance rehearsals and loving them. "I'd almost forgotten," she says, "that a musical doesn't happen until actual people start actually moving and singing. It's just thrilling to see it happen after all this time." Jiler agrees: "It's the culmination of a long, long road."