Saucy and Surprising: Songs from Nightingale Alley
“What sort of shows do you take me too?” my date asked me jokingly (and somewhat awkwardly) as we watched three ladies on stage strike seductive poses across black leather couches.
But it wasn’t, um, that sort of date. Rather, I had taken him to a local musical, Songs from Nightingale Alley, performed this past April by One Yellow Rabbit Performance Theatre (OYR). I figured the show was a good pick for a quality night out – OYR had a good reputation, I’m a sucker for musicals, and, well, they promised the audience chocolate.
And did I ever pick right. I absolutely loved Songs from Nightingale Alley – and not just because we got the chocolate. The premise of the show was unusual – it was a performance of songs written by David Rhymer, using lyrics he had been collecting for years, “gathered from obscure books in libraries or discovered in dusty bookstores. They are over 200 years old,” Rhymer explains in the program.
Most importantly, “they are, for the most part, songs written by and about prostitutes,” says Rhymer.
Hence the saucy singers sprawling across leather couches.
A month later, I was still thinking about the show – it had really stuck with me. I think it had to do with how the performers truly brought the characters to life. They gave me a sense of what it was like to be a prostitute two centuries ago – something I have, frankly, never thought about. Unexpectedly, many of the songstress’ stories, their emotions, and their adventures closely resembled the mainstream contemporary love drama with which we are all familiar.
When I heard that OYR was planning to build on Songs from Nightingale Alley, I contacted Denise Clarke, the show’s Director of and one of its three singers.
C.I.A.: I absolutely loved Songs from Nightingale Alley. Tell me about how you’re planning to build on it.
Clarke: Well, the show is not broken, as you know. The audience really seems to like the format – including my introduction at the top, and the salon feel we created in the Big Secret Theatre.
What we’re going to do is fatten up some of the work you’ve heard. Read more