Thursday, August 27, 2009

Donovan Leitch to present new rock musical Monday in L.A.



8:00 PM - $20
Largo at the Coronet
366 N. La Cienega Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90018

Glam rock, literature and theatre collide when creator Donovan Leitch’s song cycle, The Dark Root of the Dream, returns to Largo at the Coronet Monday, August 31, a follow-up to its opening performance in June. The music, which was originally debuted on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic, will be available for purchase on CD.

The music, written by Leitch and guitarist Larry Cordola (Giuffria, House of Lords, Magdalian), features an unlikely meeting of the minds that has inspired its own genre – “Gypsy Glam.” Utilizing the musical backing of the Fishtank Ensemble, described as a “cross-pollinated group of gypsy musicians,” Leitch found a new spin on his music, culled from the influence of David Bowie and T Rex’s Marc Bolan. The result is an enigmatic blend of 70s swagger and dark European folk whispers, reminiscent of a more sensitive Gogol Bordello.

The songs center around the character Mr. E, the fictional son of poet Virginia Woolf. After his mother commits suicide early in the boy’s life, E is raised by gypsies, going on to become an egotistical, disillusioned rock star. Subsequently, Mr. E struggles to fill the void left by his mother’s death – with drugs, music and love. Once all these fail, he is forced to confront his darkest dreams in order to survive. The show, which features a set with a “Beggar’s Banquest-style vibe,” according to Leitch, is directed by Ken Roht, creator of the 99¢ Only Show, and produced by Leitch himself.

In writing the songs, Leitch drew from real-life experiences with his legendary father, 60s folk singer Donovan, and his own career: “My parents split up when I was three, and I lost contact with my father, who, like Woolf, was an influential thinker of his time. I projected that loss onto a rock star character – I’ve found that the most egotistical musicians are often secretly the most self-conscious and sensitive people around.”

Leitch was originally inspired to create Dark Root after starring as the title character in Hedwig and the Angry Itch in hit productions Off-Broadway and at legendary Los Angeles venue The Roxy. “I realized that, as much as I loved Hedwig, I needed my own vehicle to fully express what I envisioned for a rock musical,” he says. Influnced by his own dark dreams, which Leitch has been analyzing himself for years, the writer also took cues from Herman Mellville’s Moby Dick and Dante’s Inferno, and the work of Oscar Wilde, whose words are quoted in the musical number “Harlot’s House.”

The songs had their first airing in a full-scale musical production at its June debut, but Leitch is using this upcoming date as an opportunity to let the music speak for itself. “I always wanted the music to stand on its own,” says Leitch. “So, for now, we’re splitting the play in two, so we can play out regularly, and not have the band tucked away in the corner – they’re phenomenal musicians.” Leitch envisions the event as being the unique combination of a band with a theatrical element, much like the Tupelo Show or Ivan Kane’s Forty Deuce.

Fans of Bowie, Hedwig and Dante alike will be dazzled at the insight, compelling drama and spectacle of Donovan Leitch’s song cycle The Dark Root of the Dream.

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