| April 20, 2016 | Culture
Two civil rights leaders get the musical treatment in a world premiere at The Strathmore this spring.
Kristin brings such joy and power to this role,” says composer Andrew Lippa, shown here with Kristin Chenoweth. “It’s really unlike anything she’s ever done before.”
What does a 17th-century Puritan proto-feminist have in common with a 20th-century gay rights pioneer? Plenty, if you ask the cast and creative team behind the Strathmore’s new two-part “concept opera,” I Am Anne Hutchinson/I Am Harvey Milk.
Hutchinson, who gained a large following in the Massachusetts Bay Colony with her passionately articulated theology, was excommunicated for disturbing the male hierarchy, while Milk, the first openly gay person elected to public office in California, was assassinated. “Anne had this great human desire to connect,” says composer and lyricist Andrew Lippa. “I think that’s a universal thing and that is, in many ways, what Harvey Milk was talking about. He had a notion that the more gay people were seen, the more we could be heard. It seemed the perfect partnership.”
The production’s sparkling star, Tony and Emmy winner Kristin Chenoweth, agrees. “Anne Hutchinson is the Harvey Milk before Harvey Milk,” she says. “I can’t wait to show everyone who she was.” Ultimately, that’s the goal: to use musical theater to humanize these two figures—and continue the conversation. “We do this for the exact same reasons these people did these things,” says the show’s director, Noah Himmelstein—“to give back to the world in a meaningful way and connect to a larger community.” April 23–24, 5301 Tuckerman Ln., North Bethesda, 301-581-5100
PhotograPhy by Margot SchulMan