NORTHWEST VALLEY NEWSPAPERS
Daily News-Sun, Nov. 6, 2004
In 2001, Ken Malucelli rifled through the CD collection in his home in San Francisco and couldn't find anything that appealed to him. He wanted to listen to marches. So, off he went to the music store, where he purchased some Sousa CDs. In the jewel cases Malucelli found a wealth of information about John Phillip Sousa, "The March King."
He did some quick math and figured that 2004 would mark the 150th anniversary of Sousa's birth, and a fitting tribute would be a show honoring the entire body of Sousa's work, not just the marches.
"And, I figured that I could write a show like that," Malucelli said. "I called Keith Brion, who is the representative of the Sousa family trust, and told him what I wanted to do. He invited me to his home in Palo Alto and I explained my plan. He gave me his approval, a copy of Sousa's biography and several other valuable resource books. He's a very gracious man."
Malucelli's plan was to make the band and the music the star of the show, interspersed with vignettes that would provide a quick run-through of Sousa's life.
The result, "Oh Mr. Sousa!", will premiere 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 9, in the Sundome, performed by the ASU Herberger College of Music Wind Symphony and Friends.
Sousa was much more than just a composer of marches, Malucelli said. "In his lifetime he composed 15 operettas, 70 songs, 28 fantasies, 5 overtures, 24 dances, 5 overtures, and apart from a large body of other musical works, wrote 7 books, 138 magazine and newspaper articles ...27 letters to the editor...and that's in addition to 136 marches!", he added.
The two-hour show is fast-paced and uses nine singer-actors to portray Sousa and his wife and various characters with whom they interact.
"A lot of the script is actually Sousa's own words," Malucelli said. "I just added some drama to the vignettes, to bring the scenes to life."
Malucelli originally wrote the work for Lamplighters Music Theatre, a San Francisco company known for its Gilbert & Sullivan productions. The Lamplighters decided not to produce the show, which Malucelli described as a musical biography, because it wasn't actually a "book musical," so he shopped it to Sousa groups, orchestras and bands nationwide.
"I am thrilled that ASU wanted to premiere the show. Both the school of music and the orchestra have a fabulous reputation," he added.
When asked for a statement that expresses why Valley residents should plan to attend the show, Malucelli said, "How about Sousa's own words? 'It'll make a man with a wooden leg get up and dance!' "
There are 24 tunes in "Oh Mr. Sousa!" and all but six are Sousa's original arrangements. Two songs, "We sail the ocean blue" (in his youth, Sousa arranged and conducted G&S comic operas) and "Turkxie," (a medley of "Turkey in the Straw" and "Dixie") are not Sousa songs but are songs he played. Those two, along with four other songs in the show, boast arrangements by Malucelli.
Coming close on the heels of the
Air Force Band of the West Concerts this weekend, "Oh Mr. Sousa!"
offers a continuation of feel-good musical entertainment at an affordable
Tickets for "Oh Mr. Sousa!" are $10 for adults and $5 for students. For tickets or information, call 480-965-6447 or visit online, http://herbergercollege.asu.edu/tickets.