Hartt's Douglas Lyons On A Musical Roll
Douglas Lyons stood at the back of the Goodspeed Opera House, intently aware of every breath, squirm and sigh from the audience that was there for the staged reading of a new musical, Five Points.
The show, for which he wrote the lyrics and co-wrote the music, was part of Goodspeed’s Festival of New Musicals, which every January gives an opportunity for emerging talent to develop their material and present it to a paying audience.
The next morning, the New Haven-born-and-raised Lyons, 31, was beaming beneath one of his signature hats — this one a sporty, purple flat-topper — before going back to work with his collaborators, composer Ethan Pakchar and book writer Harrison David Rivers.
“I was terrified of the audience reaction to the show because this was an older crowd and the show had a lot of contemporary music,” he says, adding that the response was encouraging.
Set amid the draft riots of the Civil War, the show centers on communities of blacks and Irish immigrants in Lower Manhattan and the inspired-by-real-life dance battles between the two groups. Think Scorsese’s Gangs of New York, mixed with Riverdance and The Tap Dance Kid.
Five Points premieres this month at Theater Latte Da in Minneapolis. But it’s just one of many projects the multi-hyphenate Lyons has on this year’s calendar.
He and Pakchar are commissioned by Seattle’s Fifth Avenue Theater to write ’64, a musical about the first integrated Jewish and African-American fraternity. A reading was presented in February.
There’s also the fall tour of his children’s show, Polka-Dots: The Cool Kids Musical, which has received productions around the country. (Lyons will also stage the show May 12-20 for West Hartford’s Playhouse on Park.)