Musical Theatre Legends Visit Blacksburg for Special Production

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“The Sap of Life” cast members rehearse a song with composer David Shire and lyricist Richard Maltby Jr. Pictured from left are Mary Wright, Tucker Miller, Taylor Cobb, Shire, Richard Masters (at piano), Maltby, Sydney Kendrick, Allison Harris, and Mary Haugh.
“The Sap of Life” cast members rehearse a song with composer David Shire and lyricist Richard Maltby Jr. Pictured from left are Mary Wright, Tucker Miller, Taylor Cobb, Shire, Richard Masters (at piano), Maltby, Sydney Kendrick, Allison Harris, and Mary Haugh.

Students and community members are getting the rare opportunity to workshop songs and scenes from the musical “The Sap of Life” alongside the original creators.

Lyricist Richard Maltby Jr. and composer David Shire are in residency at Virginia Tech this week as guest artists, working with actors and singers on a workshop performance featuring songs and scenes from the show to be performed on April 12.

Maltby and Shire have shared in one of the longest-running collaborative partnerships in musical theatre history. They met as undergraduates at Yale University, forged a creative association, and began writing musicals together.

Maltby would go on to co-write lyrics for “Miss Saigon.” He originated and directed “Ain’t Misbehavin’’’ in 1987 and “Fosse” in 1999 — the only two musical revues to ever win the Tony Award for Best Musical.

Shire would become a successful composer, writing music for more than 42 feature films — including “Zodiac” and “The Taking of Pelham 123” — and 90 television programs. Now, over five decades later, the two maintain an active partnership, writing new compositions and reprising previous works.

Premiering off-Broadway in 1961, “The Sap of Life” is remembered today as the production that propelled the songwriters’ careers. With a cast of six, a stage manager (theatre major Sara Gehl), and assistant music director (music major Michael Briggs), the performance will feature songs from the show, including the memorable trio “She Loves Me Not” and the dreamy ballad “Time and Time Again.”

The show’s coming-of-age story spins a tale of Andrew (played by community member Taylor Cobb), a young man who is sent out into the world for the first time by his mother, Jessie (senior music major Mary Haugh). Accompanied by his brother, Horatio (community member Tucker Miller), Andrew makes his way to the big city only to discover that he has much to learn about love and marriage.

“Songs and Scenes from ‘The Sap of Life’” will be presented on April 12 at 7:30 p.m. in the Recital Salon, located in Squires Student Center at 290 College Avenue on the Virginia Tech Campus. The performance is free to the public and will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Maltby and Shire.

Free parking is available on weekends and after 5 p.m. weekdays in the Squires Lot, located at the corner of College Avenue and Otey Street, in the Architecture Annex Lot on Otey Street, and in the Perry Street/Prices Fork lots. Find more parking information online or call 540-231-3200. Alternative parking is available in the Kent Square parking garage and the Farmers Market metered parking lot, both located on Draper Road. Additional downtown Blacksburg parking information is available online.

Written by Caroline Davis, a graduate student in arts leadership in the School of Performing Arts