American Idol runner-up, Justin Guarini, will star in the industry only Equity staged reading of the new musical THE AWAKENING OF ANGEL DeLUNA - with book & lyrics by Judylynn Schmidt, and music & lyrics by Lee Ellis - produced by Kate Griffler on Monday, March 23rd at Theater 80. Tracy Bersley directs and Barbara Anselmi acts as music director.
Set in a Hoboken Circus during the Great Depression, THE AWAKENING OF ANGEL DeLUNA weaves the enchanting tale of Angelina "Angel" DeLuna, a fallen trapeze star whose faith is tested when a mystical stranger comes to dismantle her beloved carousel. As Angel's carousel world comes crashing down around her - the lives of the entire circus troupe are forever changed as together they learn what truly matters in life.
Justin took some time out of his very busy schedule to check in with BroadwayWorld.com about the production, his inspirations and what's ahead for this talented young artist.
BWW: How did you become part of the reading?
Justin Guarini: I've been very fortunate to be a part of this project from the ground floor. After completing the book and score, Judylyn Schmidt (a long time friend) and Lee Ellis (a wonderful new friend) came to me and asked me to be a part of their original demo recording. I've been with this project for about 2 years, and I'm excited for the next step we're taking this month.
BWW: With the current economic climate, the musical with its setting of the Great Depression must be an interesting and sadly timely world to exist in, tell us about the story.
JG: The Awakening of Angel DeLuna has great metaphors for our times. It's a story of love, hope and redemption after great loss. I don't want to give it all away - but there's a real magical quality to the story; it's reminiscent of It's A Wonderful Life. The song I sing - Heart of Gold has a line, "whatever fortuNe You may hold...all that matters is your Heart of Gold." I think that's a sentiment that will resonate with many facing loss in our times. Angel DeLuna is a circus star who had a fall from the trapeze in 1905...We next see her thirty years later and discover that she has become the ticket taker for The Center of the Universe Carousel. She lives in her own fantasy world -speaking to the her carousel animals and the angels on the roof of the carousel.. It's the 1930;s... the Great Depression era; money is tight; so the circus owner is selling off the carousel to make room for a penney arcade... The dismantling of Angel's carousel is the dismantling of her entire universe...the carousel is not just her fantasy world; it's her life - her job - her past. I play Fred, her nephew whom she has raised at the carousel... and I have the job of taking apart my aunt's dream world, so to speak. As Angel's carousel world dissolves, the entire cast learns what truly matters in life. One of the tag lines for the show is, "finding your heart, as your world falls apart."
It's a great story with modern themes, set in a difficult economic time-period that people today can easily relate to.
BWW: Who is your character "Fred," what is his journey within the story?
JG: Well, Fred's basically the guy with the shovel who follows the Elephant around. He's a good person, who lives right, and knows there's got to be more to life that cleaning out the Elephants cages. Pile that ( no pun intended) on top of the fact that he's about to be a Father...and you've got a guy who feels a bit stuck. His journey takes him from wanting to run away from it all, to a place where he accepts his own greatness and is given an opportunity to be everything he's ever dreamed of being.
BWW: How would you describe the music of the piece?
JG: Absolutely beautiful...I know I'm biased, but it's true. Lee Ellis has created a wonderfully complex and fluid score that meshes carnival themes, lullabies, and beautiful melodies for Judylynn's characters. Fred's songs span the very bottom and top of my range, and are a fun challenge for me.