It was written by Marc Blitzstein, directed by Orson Welles, produced by John Houseman, and at the opening night preview it was censored by the government. The doors of the theater were padlocked by the WPA. The reason? Most guessed it was because the play was too radical, calling for everyone to join a union.
But that didn’t stop the production. The audience was invited to walk 21 blocks to a different theater, where the full show was performed, memorably, by the actors who sat in the audience with the patrons.
In short, this is the play that rocked the theater (and political) world back then. And The Musical Theater Project (TMTP) is performing two in-concert presentations of The Cradle Will Rock on September 21 in Lakewood and on September 25 at Kent State University. This is an outstanding opportunity to see a bit of theater history and marvel at how the sentiments and passions of that play resonate today. Today, many conservative politicians are eager to kill off unions, just as some were doing 80 years ago.
The production will be directed by Terri Kent, theater professor at Kent State, and includes a brief multimedia presentation prior to the show itself. The event will feature performer Joe Monaghan and members of the Kent State University Musical Theatre Program, under the musical direction of Nancy Maier. It will be hosted and narrated by Bill Rudman, founder and artistic director of TMTP.
As New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson said of the original production: “It raises a theatergoer’s metabolism and blows him out of the theater on the thunder of the grand finale.”
The Cradle Will Rock
Produced by The Musical Theater Project
September 21 at the Beck Center, 17801 Detroit Avenue. Call 216-245-8687 or visit MusicalTheaterProject.org.
September 25, Kent State University. Call 330-672-2787 or visit kent.edu/theatredance.