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Ghostlight Records and The Civilians have joined together to release The Michael Friedman Collection, a long-term project which will comprise the premiere recordings of nine musicals from the beloved late Obie Award-winning songwriter Michael Friedman.
This Beautiful City, with music and lyrics by Michael Friedman, and co-written by Steve Cosson, Jim Lewis and from interviews by the original company (Emily Ackerman, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Brad Heberlee, Stephen Plunkett, and Alison Weller), is a play with music that explores the Evangelical movement in Colorado Springs, its unofficial U.S. capital. While the company was conducting interviews in the city, a battle over gay marriage led to some unexpected outcomes, primarily the revelation about New Life Church’s politically influential pastor Ted Haggard’s secret life of gay sex and crystal meth, which quickly became an international news sensation. The Civilians project looks at this event and others in Colorado Springs as a microcosm of issues facing the country as a whole — the shifting line between church and state, and conflicting ideas of freedom between civil society and religious groups that attempt to shape our world according to their beliefs. The New Yorker praised the show as “Vivid, agenda-free and marked by a benevolent irony.”
This Beautiful City features Emily Ackerman, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Brad Heberlee, Stephen Plunkett, Conor Ryan, and Alison Weller, and an ensemble of Ally Bonino, Ben Moss, Sabina Petra, and Stephen Schapero. It is produced by Steve Cosson and Kurt Deutsch, and co-produced by Ian Kagey, Wiley DeWeese, Dan Lipton, Amy C. Ashton, and Greg Brunswick. Dan Lipton serves as Music Director. Cover illustrations are by Josh Neufeld (joshcomix.com).
“The Michael Friedman recording project has truly been the work of a community,” says Friedman’s collaborator Steve Cosson. “As we all continue to feel the deep pain of his loss, there is solace in our being able to preserve and share his music with generations to come. In spending time with his work, I’m reminded with each song how much of Michael’s singular self is present in his music. The fact that his voice is so clear and present even as he finds his way inside of so many different genres, subject matters, and characters is a testament to how fully open to the world he was. Michael could find a point of connection with anything and from that build a song, working as part-explorer, part-essayist and of course, composer. Because of that, listening to his work both takes us out into the world and offers a portal into Michael’s astonishing mind and his enormous capacity for empathy. How he lived is built into every thought and note of these songs, and I’m so glad that these recordings will add to his previously published works, offering others a chance to know his music, and through that, know Michael.”
“It’s been a little over two years since my friend and colleague Michael’s untimely death,” says label founder Kurt Deutsch. “The Civilians, Michael’s family and my label Ghostlight Records have all been working to preserve his legacy. It was my honor to work side by side in the studio with Michael to preserve Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, The Fortress of Solitude and others. Now his life’s work will continue to live on and inspire generations of musical theatre lovers to come.”
The Michael Friedman Collection is made possible by the generous donors to the Michael Friedman Legacy Fund and by the artistic contributions of his many collaborators.
- Track Listing
- Colorado– Stephen Plunkett, Brad Heberlee, Conor Ryan, This Beautiful City Original Cast Recording Ensemble
- This Beautiful City – This Beautiful City Original Cast Recording Ensemble
- Whatever– Marsha Stephanie Blake, This Beautiful City Original Cast Recording Ensemble
- An Email from Ted – Brad Heberlee
- End Times – Alison Weller
- Demons– Conor Ryan, Alison Weller, This Beautiful City Original Cast Recording Ensemble
- Doubting Thomas – Stephen Plunkett, This Beautiful City Original Cast Recording Ensemble
- Take Me There –This Beautiful City Original Cast Recording Ensemble
- Freedom– Emily Ackerman
- Urban Planning – Alison Weller
- Another Email from Ted – Brad Heberlee
- Pikes Peak (A Model of Christian Charity) – Stephen Plunkett, Emily Ackerman, This Beautiful City Original Cast Recording Ensemble
- Freedom (Alt Version)– Conor Ryan, This Beautiful City Original Cast Recording Ensemble