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Carnegie Theatre Live Musical Reading

On October 28, 2012

Have you ever wondered what the creation of a musical looks like? On Oct. 7, the local theater community had a one-night opportunity to experience this process fi rsthand. The Carnegie Theatre hosted a premiere, live reading of The Sandman: A Little Nightmare Musical, created by composer Richard Oberacker and lyricist Robert Taylor. The Sandman: A Little Nightmare Musical is a spooky relation to ETA Hoffman's The Nutcracker. When the home of an ingenious clockmaker, Albert, welcomes the new nanny, Frau Kaeseschweiss, strange things begin to happen to his children, Nathaniel and
Maria. When Maria gets sick, Kaeseschweiss calls in an uncouth physician, Dr. Copelius, who thrusts the family further into chaos. In the program, Oberacker notes on the process, "The truth is that it's not nearly as glamorous or as fast-paced." What I assumed was going to be eight actors sitting in these chairs, singing the songs and saying the lines all night turned into a full-fl edged presentation of the work.
The podium was occupied by the narrator, Van Ackerman, w ho read all of the stage directions. When he would describe sounds such as trees hitting the window, the percussionist would be right in time to make the sound, giving the audience the ability to perfectly visualize the stage directions. The
rest of the actors moved about the stage and used the chairs to differentiate between scenes. The cast was stacked with some of Cincinnati's greatest talent. Standouts included Pamela Myers as Kaeseschweiss and Bruce Cromer as Dr. Copelius. Myers held herself with poise as the mysterious
nanny and provided much of the musical's humor. Cromer
was fi lled with energy from start to fi nish. Although book in hand, he used great, powerful physicality in his presentation of Dr. Copelius. His "Open You Up" gave me chills as he haunted Nathaniel during his sleep, hovering over him, scalpel in hand. One of the most poignant aspects of being at the live reading was experiencing the music. Knowing that each character is bringing these songs to life for the fi rst time for an audience enriches the entire experience. The music of The Sandman was phenomenal. Oberacker's dueling pianos gave an eerie feel, while Taylor's lyrics cleverly played upon every member of the audience. The premiere reading of The
Sandman: A Little Nightmare Musical was an eye-opening experience into the conception of a major musical. If you are interested, the entire recording of The Sandman: A Little Nightmare Musical can be downloaded on their website:  

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