September 13, 2016 – The first ever go-go musical will take place at Georgetown this November.
Wind Me Up, Maria is part of the Department of Performing Arts 2016-2017 season of productions, all designed to engage both the university and the Washington, D.C., communities.
Acclaimed playwright-director Natsu Onoda Power, a Georgetown associate professor of performing arts, and Charles “Shorty Corleone” Garris, lead singer for the Washington, D.C., premier go-go band Rare Essence, co-created and co-direct the musical, involves collaborations both inside and outside the university.
The Sound of Go-Go
The go-go musical, which runs Nov. 3-12, stars “Maria,” a D.C. native and a rising senior at Georgetown who takes a summer position as a live-in tutor with a Washington family and ends up teaching the students about go-go music.
“I’ve been wanting to do a go-go musical for a while,” explains, Onoda Power, also artistic director of the university’s Davis Performing Arts Center. “This musical has a narrative much like musicals such as The Sound of Music or Mary Poppins, in which an outsider comes into a family and improves their lives.”
Garris, also an educator, runs a children’s group called Capital Kidds, who will be part of the musical, which is co-produced by Georgetown’s Theater and Performance Studies Program, Mask and Bauble and the Black Theatre Ensemble.
“It’s kind of a personal story,” Onoda Power says of how the go-go musical came to be.
Long before they were married, her husband, chef Tom Power, opened a restaurant in a hotel downtown that rented its banquet halls to go-go shows.
He began listening to the music and many years later shared it with his future bride, who fell in love with him and go-go at the same time.
Chuck Brown, the father of go-go who passed away in 2012, played at their 2008 wedding.
“When I first attended his shows, I was so struck by how theatrical they were, and I realized it was exactly the kind of theater I wanted to make,” Onoda Power says. “It was non-stop and every new thing was more energetic and better than the last.” The go-go musical and the other productions all follow the theme of Discover and Celebrate."
Wind Me Up, Maria is only one of many productions planned this year and next by the Department of Performing Arts.
The Friday Music Series, for example, begins with a narrated concert of music by Margaret Bonds and Langston Hughes.
Bonds was a well-known African American pianist and composer who composed music for the concert hall, Broadway and film.
The Sept. 23 event is a collaboration among the Georgetown Music Program, the African-American Studies Program and Lauinger Library’s Special Collections, which is currently hosting two exhibits – one on Bonds and one on the works and friendship of Bonds and Hughes.
“Bonds was an amazing woman, a true artist-activist,” says Anna Celenza, the Thomas E. Caestecker Professor of Music at Georgetown. “This spring and summer, as I went through our collection, I discovered complete manuscripts of works that scholars had previously believed were lost or incomplete that will be performed for the first time at our event.”
Building the Musical Capital
Georgetown is hosting a conference on Oct. 29 called Building the Music Capital, which will bring together performers, policy makers, technology executives, Washington, D.C. venue owners and politicians to discuss building a sustainable infrastructure for music in the District.
“The city is in the middle of a transformation,” Celenza says, “and that provides both opportunities and challenges for our beloved local music community.” “We’ll be looking closely at these issues through a series of presentations, interviews performances and panel discussions with leading figures engaged in the city’s musical future,” she adds.
“We’re hoping that brilliant season that Natsu has designed will bring to life both theater across campus and throughout the D.C. community,” says Department of Performing Arts Chair Soyica Diggs Colbert. “We’re collaborating with other units, departments and classes to make that happen, but also Natsu is working with some D.C. high schools and we’re reaching out to the D.C. communities.”
“We’re really trying to the take the idea of D.C., Discovery and Celebrate, and make this season one about community engagement,” she adds.
Another play this season, slated for January, is The Phantom Toolbooth by Susan Nanus and directed by student Mollie Rodgers (C’17).
The final play, In the Next Room, Or the Vibrator Play, was written by acclaimed playwright Sarah Ruhl and will be directed by Georgetown’s Derek Goldman.