Sing me Ishmael

first_img“Moby-Dick,” Herman Melville’s 1851 novel about obsession (and a great white whale) might not seem like a natural for a musical. Then again, neither did Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace,” and that became a Broadway hit as “Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812.” To playwright Dave Malloy, who brought “Great Comet” to the stage, such “classic weird novels” are perfect for musical adaptations, not least because they give him so much to work with.“It’s such a great sprawling mess,” says Malloy of “Moby-Dick,” which will have its world premiere at the American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) in a Dec. 3 preview, eight days before opening night. The production, with Malloy’s music, lyrics, book, and orchestrations, will reunite much of the “Great Comet” team, including Tony Award-winning director Rachel Chavkin, who helped develop the show, music director Or Matias, and designers Mimi Lien and Bradley King, and bring in choreographer Chanel DaSilva.In many ways, says Malloy, “Moby-Dick” lends itself to adaptation. “The book is written more like a play at times than a novel, and other sections are like essays on fiction or different ways of cooking whales,” he enthuses. “Melville played with form. He really breaks the idea of what a novel can be, and I’m very attracted to things like that.”,Like Malloy’s earlier hit, which had its A.R.T. debut in 2015, the musical “Moby-Dick” winnows through its genre-hopping source, extracting universal themes from the novel. Unlike “Great Comet,” however, “Moby-Dick” is a quintessentially American work, says Malloy, addressing topics from the 19th century that remain relevant today.“One thing we’re doing is we’re very much taking an American novel and really looking at it as a way of looking at America,” he says.One of the major themes of both the musical and the book, for example, is “talking about race in America,” says Malloy. The crew of the Pequod, Melville’s doomed ship, included Queequeg, the son of a South Seas chief; the Native American Tashtego; the Parsee harpooner Fedallah; and the African Daggoo. On the A.R.T. stage, these characters will be portrayed by a multiracial and mixed-gender cast. “Melville has this utopian vision of all these people living together and working together in harmony,” says Malloy. With Captain Ahab at the helm, however, “it also tells a story of white supremacy,” he notes. “Having this old white man lead the ship toward its doom.”,The musical also addresses humankind’s environmental impact, a concern that Melville brought up nearly 170 years ago. “There’s a whole chapter where he talks about the buffalo, and asks, ‘Will the whale go the way of the buffalo?’” Malloy says. Despite these prescient worries, he continues, Melville gets it wrong. “He’s like, ‘No, whales can escape to the North Pole.’ He was very optimistic about the whale’s chances.”In the A.R.T. version, a darker vision will be reflected in the set and the show’s puppets, which use ocean trash as a visible reminder of what we have done to our world.Puppets? Yes, “We have this incredible puppet designer, Eric Avery,” says Malloy. “All of the puppets are made out of recycled ocean trash, plastic bottles, and things like that.”,Trash will also be used to depict some of the more visual aspects of the book, such as the “industrial rolls of blubber” that the whalers work with after a successful hunt. Whether such detritus will depict Moby-Dick itself, Malloy won’t say.“That would be a spoiler!” He laughs, even as he dismisses the idea that pollution is our “great white whale.”“That’s what makes it such a great novel: the multifaceted beauty of the white whale,” he says. “It represents different things to different people on the Pequod, and we’re certainly doing that as well. To Ahab it represents God and Nature and to other people on the ship it represents white supremacy. There’s a lot going on that the white whale can represent.” Gilbert and Sullivan drop the mic Lessons of ‘West Side Story’ Cast and crew of new production wrestle with the classic musical’s racial, ethnic, and political complications Longtime Harvard troupe returns to stage ‘H.M.S. Pinafore’ center_img Related Teens tackle question of freedom in America Project lets students write and perform ‘Freedom Acts’ for the A.R.T. stagelast_img read more

UPS to Help Birkenstock Shorten Order Time, Increase U.S. Product Offering

first_imgBirkenstock Footprint Sandals Inc., the 100 percent employee-owned company and U.S. importer and distributor of Birkenstock footwear from Germany, will shorten special-order handling time by weeks and increase its product offering in U.S. retail stores through an agreement with UPS Supply Chain Solutions.A new distribution program developed by UPS will manage special orders to the U.S. fulfilled by Birkenstock manufacturing centers in Germany. Special orders that once took months to ship to the U.S. now will take days.“UPS Supply Chain Solutions will help us bring additional new styles, colors and sizes of Birkenstock footwear to American consumers much faster than we have been able to do in the past,” said Birkenstock Chief Operating Officer Gene Kunde.Under the agreement, implemented this month, UPS Supply Chain Solutions will provide a dedicated team utilizing UPS’s full portfolio of services including air, ocean, customs brokerage and small package. The solutions allow shipments to go directly to retail outlets. This alleviates interim handling and repackaging steps typical of the retail distribution process. UPS also will deliver retailer orders for the Spring 2004 season beginning this fall.“While our main goal is to satisfy our customers, there also are significant operational benefits to this new distribution arrangement,” Kunde said. “The UPS program takes pressure off our U.S. warehouses and gives our retailers more options for consumers.”Birkenstock, the first company to introduce the U.S. market to the Euro-comfort shoe category in 1967, realized 20 percent growth in fiscal 2002, exceeding the industry average of six percent. The agreement with UPS Supply Chain Solutions will enable Birkenstock to keep pace with rapid growth while increasing its ability to respond to its retailers and consumer needs.last_img read more