Neil Berg and the Rockin’ Roots of ‘The 12’

Neil Berg. Photo by John Moore.

Composer and co-lyricist Neil Berg traces his interest in musicals to an unlikely origin: seeing Annie on Broadway as a boy. “While everyone else loved ‘Tomorrow,’ ” he remembers, “I loved ‘Maybe,’ her ‘I Want’ song.” In an “I Want” song, the protagonist expresses her dreams (e.g. “Annie wants parents”). It’s telling that the budding composer was interested in the song that sets the entire play in motion. Prologue spoke with Neil during rehearsals for THE 12, the rock musical he created with book writer/co-lyricist Robert Schenkkan.

“From the time I could play the piano, around 9 or 10 [I was writing musicals]. I was the youngest of three and rock ‘n roll was what I grew up listening to. From my brother I got The Beatles and Led Zeppelin and classic rock. My sister was into folk — Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Peter, Paul and Mary. And my mother and father were into classical, jazz and opera. Being the youngest, it all trickled down. When I came into my own, I was into the classic rock movement. My favorite albums were all those rock operas — The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ and Genesis’ ‘The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,’ but my very favorite was probably Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall.'”- Neil Berg

To read the full interview by Douglas Langworthy and to see clips of the Denver production of THE 12, click here.

Thomas Gibbons’ UNCANNY VALLEY Premieres in Philadelphia’s InterAct Theatre

Frank X and Sally Mercer in InterAct Theatre´s "Uncanny Valley," which opened Wednesday at the Adrienne.“This delicate, ingenious play is about identity. Are we who we say we are? Or who we’re told we are? Both, though the heartiest put stock in the former rather than the latter,” remarks reviewer David Patrick Steams of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

This two-man play, written by Thomas Gibbons, questions the powers of science and the human brain – just because we have the knowledge and power of science behind us, does that mean that we should use that power?  Sally Mercer plays a scientist, at the forefront, yet older end of her field, and Frank X plays the research project, the robot with “adult intelligence but little knowledge, much awareness but no experience.”

“The well-investigated production directed by Seth Rozin walks as many fine lines as the script. At first, I wondered whether Sally Mercer was too unscarred to be a retirement-age researcher. But while maintaining ultra-professional restraint, Mercer somehow ages before our eyes as her sorrows multiply. Frank X delivers a masterful metamorphosis from cipher to worldly billionaire with hugely resourceful use of vocal color. But his hallmark is where words stop and implication begins. How many actors so eloquently think on stage?”

To read the full review, follow the link to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s article HERE.

New York Times Interviews David Robson on PLAYING THE ASSASSIN

Garrett Lee Hendricks, left and Ezra Knight in Robson’s PLAYING THE ASSASSIN.

David Robson was a football fan growing up.  He still remembers that preseason game in 1978, when Jack Tatum of the Oakland Raiders, hit Darryl Stingley of the New England Patriots so hard that it rendered him a quadriplegic.

In 2010, Robson learned of Tatum’s death from his obituary, which was titled, “Jack Tatum, Whose Tackle Paralyzed Player, Dies at 61.”  Robson began to contemplate the idea of being remembered, and the tragedy of being remembered by a single incident, whether good or bad, when an individual was alive for so many years.

From that, an incredible play was born.

To read the full interview, which captures the true inspirations of the story and Robson’s feelings, click HERE.

4 Stars to THE 12 by Neil Berg at the Denver Center

The cast brings a vigor and inspired diversity of voices to "The 12."

“Something visceral and vivid is taking place at the Denver Center, where the musical THE 12 is receiving its world premiere.  Robert Schenkkan wrote the book and Neil Berg the music. The two share credit for the lyrics of this boldly compassionate work that imagines the disciples’ very human angst in the hours after their teacher was executed.  Let there be long shadows. Let there be anguish and suspicion. Let there be deep fear and hard-wrought faith. So might go the promise of this beautifully performed work.”

Reviewer Lisa Kennedy gives THE 12, a musical explaining the anguish-filled moments after the Disciples learn what has happened to Jesus, a 4-star rating.

To read the full raving review, or to learn more about ticket information and the musical, click HERE.