Rock band? Musical theater? Indie-pop trio GrooveLily combines the best of both worlds with “Striking 12,” a refreshingly alternative holiday show based on Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale “The Little Match Girl.”
Combining old-fashioned uplift with a healthy dose of 21st-century skepticism, “Striking 12” will be performed at 8 p.m. Nov. 16 and 17 at Edison Theatre. It tells the story of The Man Who’s Had Enough, a grumpy, overworked New Yorker who resolves to spend New Years’ Eve alone in his apartment. Ignoring a friend’s last-minute party invitation, he breaks out a copy of “The Little Match Girl” but is soon interrupted by a kooky, effervescent Salesgirl selling “special full-spectrum holiday light bulbs” to combat seasonal affective disorder.
The original score spans rock, jazz, folk, pop, showtunes and more. Songs range from the plaintive country-blues of “Matches for Sale” and “Can’t Go Home” to the Salesgirl’s fast-paced “Sales Pitch” and the comically buoyant character analysis of “Screwed-up People Make Great Art.”
The Los Angeles Times said that “in the quest for an ideal holiday entertainment for adults, ‘Striking 12’ strikes gold.” The New York Times praised the show as “Thoroughly winning! More artfully crafted and engaging than virtually all the standard-mold musicals these days. Alive with wit and humor.”
GrooveLily consists of Valerie Vigoda, who plays the Salesgirl and performs on a six-string electric violin. Keyboardist Brendan Milburn (Vigoda’s husband) plays The Man Who’s Had Enough. Drummer Gene Lewin is The Man’s party-going friend.
“Striking 12” is written by Milburn and Vigoda (book, music and lyrics) along with Rachel Sheinken (book and lyrics), a 2005 Tony Award-winner for “The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee (Circle in the Square).” Directing the show is Ted Sperling, a 2005 Tony Award-winner for his orchestration of “The Light in the Piazza.”
Vigoda, who founded GrooveLily (originally The Valerie Vigoda Band) in 1994, is a classically trained musician, honors graduate of Princeton University and former Army lieutenant. She has toured the world with Cyndi Lauper (opening for Tina Turner and Cher), Joe Jackson and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra.
Milburn is a graduate of New York University’s prestigious Tisch School of the Arts Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program. Lewin, also a Princeton graduate, earned a master’s degree from the Manhattan School of Music and toured and/or recorded with Audra McDonald, George Coleman, John Patitucci and many others.
“Striking 12” premiered at the Prince Theatre in Philadelphia in 2002 and then was reworked as part of TheatreWorks’ New Works Festival in Palo Alto, Calif., before playing the Old Globe Theatre in San Diego in 2003. In 2004, the show made its New York debut at the Melting Pot Theatre Company while the PS Classics label released a live cast recording.
In 2005 it enjoyed a sold-out run at New York’s Ars Nova and in 2006 played for eight weeks at Off-Broadway’s Daryl Roth Theatre.
In addition to “Striking 12,” GrooveLily has released seven studio recordings, most recently “A Little Midsummer Night’s Music” (2007), which collects songs written and performed for director Tina Landau’s 2006 musical version of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”
Other albums include “Are We There Yet?” (2003), “Just The Three of Us” (2002) and “Little Light” (2000).
“Striking 12” is part of the Edison Theatre OVATIONS! Series. Tickets — $18 for students and children; $25 for seniors, faculty and staff; and $30 to the public — are available at the Edison Theatre Box Office and through all MetroTix outlets. For more information, call 935-6543 or visit edisontheatre.wustl.edu.