I’m thrilled to be presenting my show GIRL/GROUP: A DAUGHTER'S TALE at the legendary La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in New York’s East Village from June 17th through June 26th. This is a personal piece -- a performance memoir about mothers and daughters, about doo-wop and dreams deferred, about uncelebrated lives and the extraordinary talents that lie hidden within them.
In the late 1950’s, my mother, Angela LaPrete, sang in a group called The Carmelettes, and with them recorded such hits as “Aching for You,” “Promise Me a Rose,” and “Something Tells Me I’m in Love” for Alpine Records. In truth, though, they were really just three little girls from Jersey City, NJ. Led by the fledgling songwriter Bea Verdi, Angela and her two friends, Vickie and Virginia, were discovered after they were unexpectedly asked by Neil Sedaka to sing back-up for his smash hit, “Oh! Carol”. In an instant, they were catapulted from their sheltered Italian-American working class neighborhood to the Brill Building music scene, where they sang for people like Don Kirschner and shared the microphone with the likes of Carole King. When the grip of ambition threatened the simple joy of singing together, the girls were faced with making the few choices there were to make for women of that time.
This piece is about me, Angela LaPrete’s daughter, and my inescapable desire to keep the song alive generations later.
In GIRL/GROUP, we follow my alter ego, also named Susan, who is fueled by artistic ambitions that her mother could never realize. Now, fifty-one years later, Susan is picking up where her mother left off. In a recording studio to record a song that she has written, she falls back in time to an Alice-through-the-looking-glass adventure. There, she finds herself in the place of her own mother. The decisions and challenges that Angela faces force Susan to face her own questions of identity and desire. What choices will Susan make to help her reclaim her mother's legacy and, in doing so, create one of her own?
At its heart an homage to my mother, GIRL/GROUP will be performed by myself, along with three female actor/singers, a male actor, and an onstage band. Mario Giacalone will direct, Heidi Latsky will lend her choreography to the tale-telling, and Kris Kukul will serve as musical director. My very own cousin Sarah Rae Murphy will be our tech genius.
With the help of Kickstarter, I will be able to honor these incredible people by actually paying them! Your contributions will also make it possible for the music of GIRL/GROUP to be played each night of the run by a live band.
It can’t be said enough how deeply proud and privileged I feel to be premiering GIRL/GROUP at La MaMa. It’s a piece about family and friendship and home, so there is no better place for it than La MaMa, which has been a home to so many people for so many years. In gratitude to the founder and artistic director of La MaMa, Ellen Stewart, who passed away on January 13th of this year, I want to bring to her stage the absolute best production that I possibly can. The artists who are a part of this project are the key to that. I hope you'll join in supporting me and the entire team of GIRL/GROUP with a contribution. Thanks!
- Susan Murphy
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