Jun 23, 2014
08:24 AM
History

'Benedict Arnold' the Musical is Ready to Turn Heads

'Benedict Arnold' the Musical is Ready to Turn Heads

Few figures in American history have led more dramatic lives than Norwich’s infamous son, Benedict Arnold—a man who went from fiery patriot to acclaimed war hero to notorious traitor. With ample action, drama, romance, intrigue, treachery and heartbreak, Arnold’s compelling story lends itself well to live theater, which the award-winning creative team of the new musical Benedict Arnold is hoping for.

“I was drawn to the parallels that we discovered between the story of Arnold and his wife Peggy and Shakespeare’s MacBeth,” says William Squier, who wrote the lyrics to Jeffrey Lodin’s rockin’ pop-friendly music that complements a book by Richard Vetere. “In our version of the story they are a couple that was driven and ultimately undone by thwarted ambition.”

Commissioned by Norwich’s Spirit of Broadway Theater, where the production will world premiere from July 2 through Aug. 3, the play follows Arnold’s travails as he tries to negotiate the pressures of being a good soldier versus personal ambition and disappointment while also dealing with heavy financial responsibilities and keeping a young wife happy. Although his betrayal is universally known, very few are aware of his repeated battlefield heroics and respected military acumen, which made his traitorous turn so devastating. In fact, many historians argue that without Arnold’s actions at the Battle of Saratoga—much of which were stricken from official histories and monuments after his treacherous attempt to deliver West Point to the British—the Americans wouldn’t have been victorious, and thus, never would’ve gained France as an important ally to the cause for independence.  

Providing a new perspective on Arnold’s complex story is part of an effort to promote local tourism. Following the lead of other cultural destinations that have embraced “dark” tourism—like Salem, Gettysburg or even New York City’s recently opened 9/11 Museum—the hope is to capitalize on interest in the events that lead to an unfortunate moment in our nation’s history.

Like any new musical, the theatrical success of Benedict Arnold ultimately hinges on the songs. “We wanted to avoid writing a score that was too suggestive of the Revolutionary War period. So most of it is very contemporary sounding,” says Squier. “The question we kept asking ourselves was, ‘Can we really get away with this?’”

Unlike Arnold himself, it appears they have.

(860) 886-2378, spiritofbroadway.org

 

'Benedict Arnold' the Musical is Ready to Turn Heads

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