Sheik to bring ‘Spring Awakening’ to Ann ArborWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Duncan Sheik doesn’t believe in ghosts, but he does find spirits entertaining.
“When I was a kid growing up in South Carolina, we used to go on camping trips to Daufuskie Island, and my friends’ parents, you know, we’d sit around the campfire roasting marshmallows and they would tell ghost stories and try to freak us out,” he recalled. “I have fond, spooky memories of that, but I never really bought into it 100 percent.”
He did find inspiration from those nights for “Whisper House,” an upcoming theatrical project and his new disc released in January.
Sheik’s friend, Keith Powell, an actor on “30 Rock” and director, asked the singer-songwriter to work on a musical theater piece. Then playwright Kyle Jarrow came aboard.
The trio worked on “Whisper House,” which tells the story of a boy, Christopher, whose father is killed in World War II and his mother ends up in a sanitarium. Christopher goes to live with his aunt in a Maine lighthouse, which is haunted.
“It was nice to be able to write from this persona of a musician who drowned off the coast of Maine in 1912 and then haunted this lighthouse during World War II, and having this little bit cynical and whimsically malevolent point of view,” Sheik said during a tour stop in Fort Worth, Texas.
“I wasn’t thinking of [‘Whisper House’] as my next album. It turned out that there were people who made a convincing argument that it should be,” he said. “It’s kind of become this strange hybrid of a theater-oriented cast album and ‘normal’ singer-songwriter record.”
While the 39-year-old may be best known for his self-titled 1996 debut, which featured “Barely Breathing,” his collaboration with Steven Sater on “Spring Awakening” lit up Broadway. The 2006 musical won eight Tony Awards, including two for Sheik, and a Grammy Award.
“I think musical theater, and actually just using music in the context of any narrative form, it’s what’s really creatively interesting to me these days,” Sheik said. “It can actually make the songs more powerful when you have this kind of story there and, conversely, the music really makes the story kind of land emotionally for the audience.”
He said “Whisper House” should make its stage debut in early 2010 in San Diego, but fans can enjoy his performance at his interactive Web site.
Sheik will perform songs from “Whisper House,” “Spring Awakening” and his solo career when he plays a 7:30 p.m. show March 8 at The Ark in Ann Arbor.
Lauren Pritchard from the original Broadway cast of “Spring Awakening” will open the concert and join Sheik for songs from the musical. Tickets are $20. Doors open at 7 p.m.