Jefferey Clayton Teaches Through Music
Jefferey Clayton served in the military for 21 years — three years active duty and the rest in the National Guard. He completed “all the basic training,” the stuff people see in movies, he says, but his ensuing job wasn’t so usual: he played the trumpet. He played for military ceremonies and funerals. He performed for President George H.W. Bush and Gen. Colin Powell, at major sporting events, in parades, and at high schools where the military recruited. Clayton himself, raised in Wellfleet, had gone right from Nauset High to the Army.
He was a musical child — he played the piano in elementary school and learned the trumpet in fifth grade. “My mom’s from Kingston, Jamaica,” says Clayton. He remembers childhood trips to visit family there, where he heard musicians playing steel drums. As a young teenager, he picked up a souvenir steel drum and brought it home. But it wasn’t until his first military leave, when he came back to Wellfleet, that he took drumming seriously. He brought it back to the Army with him.
Steelpan, or steel drum, was a way for Clayton to connect with his heritage, he says. “My focus has always been to showcase the steelpan and what it can do,” he says. Most people, he says, have a narrow idea of what the drum is meant for. “They’re caught up in their stereotypes,” he says. “It’s always ‘Can you play something from The Little Mermaid?’ ” Yes, he can, he says. “But we can do more than that.”
At Chapel in the Pines (220 Samoset Road, Eastham) on Sunday, Oct. 22 at 10 a.m., Clayton will perform on steel drum and sing. “I’ll play some traditional reggae,” he says. “Some contemporary music, jazz, probably some classical music. Songs that people will recognize.” He often performs with his full band, PanNeubean Steel, but for this concert, he’ll play alone, with backing tracks. —Dorothea Samaha
Trish LaRose Gets Personal at Cape Rep
Come On-a My House, the title of Trish LaRose’s new show opening at Cape Rep this week, signals that, yes, Rosemary Clooney’s 1950s hit will be sung. But it’s also an invitation to share LaRose’s personal stories through a “musical journey.”
LaRose’s eclectic soundtrack ranges from Broadway to blues — stretching beyond Clooney to Bette Midler, Michael Jackson, Stephen Sondheim, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Gloria Estefan, Samara Joy, and others. The dialogue and music relate to living in New York City, returning to Cape Cod, and becoming a mother.
LaRose has performed around Cape Cod, including starring in Provincetown Theater’s 2019 Sweeney Todd and Broadway concerts for Provincetown’s Great Music on Sundays @5 series. It was at her longtime Cape Rep base, though, that producing artistic director Janine Perry suggested creating this follow-up to LaRose’s 2011 one-woman show, Bulletproof.
“I’m sharing my truth and my story,” LaRose says. “I’m hoping parts of my story are relatable to everyone.”
She credits the theater’s “village” with bringing her vision to life. LaRose developed the show with director Maura Hanlon, backup singers and castmates Anthony Teixeira and Jess Andra, musical director Michael Dunford, and choreographer Bryan Knowlton. Scenic designer Ryan McGettigan has created a stage world that’s part bedroom, part club.
Preparation has been a combination of adrenaline, exhaustion, excitement, and terror, she says. “I never questioned sharing and being vulnerable with the audience. I really, truly love being so personal. But the material can trigger some things.” She laughs. “That’s why rehearsal is so good. I can cry my eyes out in a room full of people where I feel safe.”
Performances are Thursdays to Sundays, Oct. 19 to Nov. 12, at Cape Rep Theatre, 3299 Route 6A, Brewster; tickets are $25 to $40 at caperep.org. —Kathi Scrizzi Driscoll
The Met’s Dead Man Walking at WHAT
A simulcast of the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Dead Man Walking will be at the Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater on Saturday, Oct. 21, 12:55 p.m.
The opera, composed by Jake Heggie with a libretto by award-winning playwright Terrence McNally, is based on the book of the same name, written by Sister Helen Prejean.
Critics have said the story the opera tells is simple yet effective. Sister Helen wrestles with morality and religious conviction as she attempts to provide some relief to death-row inmate Joseph De Rocher — convicted of murdering two teenagers — through the painstaking process of his sentencing and execution.
The work is quite unlike classic operas such as Mozart’s The Magic Flute, Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen, or Verdi’s Otello. But like those great works, it feels timeless. The drama is intimate, heart-wrenching, confusing, and expansive.
Music Director Yannick Nézet-Séguin will conduct, with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato as Sister Helen, bass-baritone Ryan McKinny as Joseph De Rocher, soprano Latonia Moore as Sister Rose, and mezzo-soprano Susan Graham as De Rocher’s mother.
The production, staged by Ivo van Hove, was supposed to premiere at the Metropolitan Opera in the 2020-2021 season but was postponed by the pandemic. Now, for the 2023-2024 season, the production is one of nine that will be transmitted live. Tickets are $17.50 to $29.50, including fees, at what.org. —Dorothea Samaha
Series Begins With Provincetown Ghost Story
The ghosts of two Pulitzer Prize-winning playwrights walk into a bar. That’s the intriguing premise for Joseph M. Paprzycki’s 80-minute play Visions of Beatitude, featuring Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill in the afterlife seeking redemption at a closed Atlantic House in Provincetown. Paprzycki says the idea came to him unexpectedly one night eight years ago, along with a command from O’Neill.
“I woke up to see what I thought was a man at the base of my bed, and the man was O’Neill,” Paprzycki says. “And all he said was ‘Write me.’ ”
The North Truro author of more than 60 plays and screenplays immediately wrote the first dozen pages. “When I write like I’m a stenographer and just hearing it, that’s the strongest writing I can do,” he says. “And this one just kept coming.”
The script — with a title taken from a line in O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey Into Night — was read publicly in 2019 at the Provincetown Theater. Since then, Paprzycki has received new feedback on the play, and this latest version will be read at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Truro library, 7 Standish Way, launching season two of the Truro Playwright Collective’s monthly readings.
The free October-to-April readings offer valuable audience feedback, he says, and last season drew 600-plus people overall. Playwrights Jim Dalglish, Meryl Cohn, and Charlene Donaghy will join Paprzycki this year.
Paprzycki, a Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival board member, calls Williams and O’Neill “my writing gods.” Both frequented the Atlantic House bar in their time, so it was a natural setting for Visions of Beatitude, he says, in which St. Genesius, the patron saint of theater, summons the two to reveal each other’s secrets.
The sparring match, Paprzycki says, mixes comedy into the play’s serious tone. “And,” he notes, “the A House is as much a character as they are.”