Over a year ago, the Dallas Theater Center gave the team here at Art&Seek unusual access to track the creation of a rare professional musical — rare because it was being made entirely in Dallas. Most musical premieres at the Theater Center are more or less imported — with the story, the music and the artistic team already set. Today, we’re launching a series called “Stagger Lee: Making a Musical,” with a digital storytelling project that follows this show’s creative origins, rehearsal process, artistic choices.
The series kicks off with a look at the musical’s creator, Will Power, and his fascination with the legend of Stagger Lee. A former hip-hop artist and off-Broadway playwright, Power is an SMU professor and playwright-in-residence at the Theater Center. He wrote Stagger Lee, and, with Justin Ellington, composed the music. As Jerome Weeks reports, the road to opening night started long ago, when Power was a child.
On the project site, you can:
- Read an expanded version of Jerome’s piece
- Watch Dane Walters’ videos of the musical number “St. Louis” as it evolves through workshops and rehearsals over more than a year.
- Listen to musical artists from Mississippi John Hurt to the Grateful Dead interpret the classic song “Stagger Lee.”
Preview performances of Dallas Theater Center’s Stagger Lee begin Thursday night at the Wyly Theater. The show opens Jan. 30.
Art&Seek’s storytelling project, Stagger Lee: Making a Musical, continues next Thursday with a closer look at how the show’s music was born.