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First Documented Musical The Black Crook Seeks Crowdfunding for Rare Revival

The Civil War-era musical is celebrating its 150th anniversary year.

The Black Crook, which will celebrate its 150th anniversary this year and is widely considered the first piece of musical theater, is seeking crowdfunding for a September 2016 production at the Abrons Arts Center.

Directed by Joshua William Gelb alongside artistic producer Moe Yousuf, the production is soliciting $8,000 through Hatchfund.org to supplement the funding provided by the Abrons Arts Center, a grant from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), and seed money from an individual donor, which altogether totals $19,000.

The creative team includes Alaina Ferris (musical director), Bradley King (lighting designer), Justine Levine (arranger), Katie Rose McLaughlin (choreographer), Carolyn Mraz (scenic designer), and Normandy Sherwood (costume designer).

If funding goals are reached, the cast will feature eight actor-musicians, including Randy Blair and Kate Weber, inhabiting dozens of roles, dancing a "grand ballet," and performing music from the 1866 score.

The show's original production was born after a fire at the Academy of Music, which stranded a recently imported Parisian ballet troupe. Niblo's Garden manager William Wheatley subsequently offered to integrate the ballet into a melodrama he had acquired from playwright Charles M. Barras, creating The Black Crook, which featured hundreds of performers and ran five hours long.

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