Stories on Stage presents Harmony of the World
A preview by Nicolette Vajtay
“Short stories are a perfect little snapshot of life on planet Earth,” said Artistic Director of Stories on Stage, Anthony Powell, as we chatted over Zoom about the upcoming virtual performance of Harmony of the World.
From the winner of the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in the Short Story, author Charles Baxter brings wit, humor, and a heartfelt experience to Harmony of the World, where a musician/critic falls in love with the singer he accompanies. But her pitch is not perfect. “And that creates problems,” said Powell with a giggle, problems we can all understand.
“It’s a miracle, isn’t it, that we find someone we want to share our life with,” said Powell. “There are so many moving parts and too many variables. You finally settle down, and then there’s that one thing.” I laughed at this sentiment because I could relate. Why do we obsess about that one tiny thing that often ruins a great love? And that is what the protagonist is doing in this story.
Producing Harmony of the World at this particular time is important to Powell. “Now, more than ever, after almost two years in isolation, we have a need for connection. But sometimes we shoot ourselves in the foot against our own best interest.” And while the artistic team agonized over whether to connect live in a theatre, Stories on Stage will remain virtual on Friday October 22nd along with limited in-person seating at the Nomad Playhouse in Boulder. And they aim to bring you something unique over your screen.
“I read this piece many years ago and I loved it,” said Powell, “but it’s too long.” Because of the entertaining yet meaningful message of this story, Powell decided to make it a show unto itself. This is a departure for Stories on Stage, where they will produce just one story (instead of three) for the evening, with two actors performing.
Fortunate for audiences, this will also be a more theatrically realized experience with the addition of music. Pianist Martha Yordy joins “the dream team” of Geoff Kent as the critic and Emily Van Fleet as the singer. Yordy will weave instrumental music throughout the piece to illustrate Baxter’s compelling narrative with inspiring contributions from Chopin, Bernstein, Rachmaninoff, John Philip Sousa, and more. “And Emily will break out into song,” said Powell. “As we come out of this year, I feel we all need a little more music, music that connects us to each other and to our memories. Even the sad ones, which tend to be bittersweet; I don’t mind revisiting those.”
When asked about his career trajectory from directing at such notable places as The Denver Center and The Curious Theatre to producing short stories on stage, Powell said, “I’ve come to love the art form. It often demands even more from the actor because we don’t have the other artistic elements to rely on as in traditional theatre. The actor must portray it all. And the short story doesn’t wrap everything up with a bow, they sometimes ask more questions than they answer.” And isn’t that life? It keeps on going, and only once in a while is it accompanied by a pretty red bow.
After Harmony of the World, Stories on Stage will present What Goes Up Must Come Down, virtually on November 12th. Then, following CDC guidelines, they will go live to a fully vaccinated and masked audience with Making Merry. Their annual Holiday Lollapalooza rides again on December 18th & 19th with performances in Boulder and Denver, and virtually. In fact, no matter how one feels about re-entering a theatre, you will be able to enjoy all performances for the remainder of the 21-22 season. Just days after a live opening, you will be able to access the virtual show from the comfort of your home. Join them for a unique way of staying connected! Click here for season information.
Stories on Stage presents Harmony of the World, in person at the Nomad Playhouse in Boulder, 1410 Quincy Ave
Boulder, CO 80304. Performance is on Friday October 22, 2021 at 7pm; Virtual performance, plus limited in-person seating. For more information, click here.