Requiem for William
Based on seven short plays
by William Inge
Conceived by Artistic Director
Jack Cummings III
Requiem for William is based on seven short plays by William Inge and conceived by Artistic Director Jack Cummings III.
Using a cast of 26 actors ranging from ages 8 to 80 and 11 composers/lyricists, Requiem for William explored themes of loneliness, the pursuit of fame, and the longing to return to something one can never revisit. Each play was followed by an original song that gave a unique insight sung from the point of view of the most minor character from that particular play. The composers and lyricists included: Michael John LaChiusa, Tom Kochan, Cheryl Stern, Beth Blatt, Jenny Giering, Ellen Weiss, Brian Crawley, Jeff Hardy, Ed Dixon, Mary-Mitchell Campbell, and Leslie Becker.
The seven short plays included: To Boblink, For Her Spirit – Determined celebrity autograph hunters wait outside a NYC Restaurant; The Rainy Afternoon – Three children emulate their parents while “playing house” which is both alarming and revealing; The Tiny Closet – A middle-aged bachelor is upset to find that someone has been tampering with his lock on his closet and has discovered his secret; Memory of Summer – Touching story of a middle-aged woman who has lost her youth; The Boy in the Basement – A miserable funeral home director who lives at home with his parents harbors a terrible shame; The Strains of Triumph – Set at a college track meet, a young man learns about heartbreak; A Social Event – Two Hollywood hopefuls pull out all the stops to get an invitation to a Hollywood bigwig’s funeral.
The orchestrations by Alden Terry used piano, clarinet, acoustic upright bass, and viola.
The Daily News:
Transport Group’s production of Requiem for William is well-acted and powerful. Marni Nixon gives a strong performance in the most affecting work, The Boy in the Basement. The pieces demonstrate Inge’s gift for revealing the anguish, cruelty, hypocrisy and abject loneliness of his mostly small-town characters.
The New Yorker:
The seven short plays presented in Transport Group’s tribute to William Inge, Requiem for William, work surprisingly well as stage productions, and two stand out above the rest. To Bobolink, For Her Spirit gets terrific lift from Tina Johnson’s dead-on performance as a humorless celebrity-autograph hunter and The Boy in the Basement is a minor masterpiece.
Jack Cummings III of Transport Group is obviously a fan of Inge and his tribute, Requiem for William is startlingly ambitious. Thinking outside the box, Cummings has exhumed seven Inge one-acts, commissioned a song to end each play from some of the most gifted composers working in musical theater, and assembled 26 committed actors, from veterans like Marni Nixon and Taina Elg to unfamiliar young talent. The result is absorbing, buoyed by the music, singing, acting, and direction. For lovers of drama, this is a memorable and rewarding production.