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Adam Guettel's "Myths and Hymns" Given "Gently Luminous Staging" (NY Times) at NYC's West End Theatre

Adam Guettel: "Myths and Hymns" [cover]

Adam Guettel's song cycle Myths and Hymns opened at the West End Theatre in the Church of St. Paul and St. Andrew in New York City last night. The production features a new narrative and direction by Elizabeth Lucas, which the New York Times theater critic Charles Isherwood calls a "gently luminous staging."

Myths and Hymns is a song cycle on the subject of faith and longing in a secular world. Premiered in March 1998 at the Joseph Papp Public Theater / New York Shakespeare Festival under the title Saturn Returns, the work offers up a dazzling array of songs adapted from classic Greek myths and the texts of an early American hymn-book. Time called it "a major event in American popular song." Nonesuch Records released a recording of the songs of Myths and Hymns in 1997 featuring vocals from the likes of Audra McDonald, Mandy Patinkin, Kristin Chenoweth, and the composer himself.

In the new production, Lucas has introduced a book to the song cycle, using what Isherwood finds to be "judicious taste" to keep the attention on Guettel's songs while still illustrating "the painful intertwining of love and loss in human experience." Ultimately, Isherwood concludes, "the universal expressions of hope, fear, yearning and desire in the songs will strike deeply sounding chords."

Read Isherwood's review at

Guettel and Lucas spoke Isherwood's colleague at the Times, Eric Grode, for a piece examining the history of the new production and looks at some of the various new projects Guettel has been working on since his Tony Award-winning musical The Light in the Piazza. You'll find that article at as well.

For more information on and tickets to the new production of Myths and Hymns, go to

To pick up a copy of the Nonesuch recording of Myths and Hymns, The Light in the Piazza, and Guettel's earlier musical, Floyd Collins, head to the Nonesuch Store now.


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