Svengali

Book and lyrics by Gregory Boyd
Based on the novel Trilby by George du Maurier

Chuck Wagner and Linda Eder

Svengali is a gothic musical which tells a tale of music, art, love and hypnotism in turn-of-the-century Paris. It is set in the Latin Quarter, where Trilby (a good-hearted girl who sells milk and poses for sculptors) comes into the lives of several artists. One, the shy Little Billie, falls in love with her. The title character, Svengali, is a penniless and devious vocal teacher, who travels with his faithful assistant, Gecko. Svengali steals Trilby away for himself, and uses hypnotic powers to turn the tone-deaf beauty into a singer beyond compare. This new Trilby becomes a famous singer, but has no memory of her former life. As the tale of mysticism and romance unfolds, Trilby begins to recall her past, and tries to break free from Svengali to return to Billie.


Chuck Wagner and Linda Eder

To date, the show has been presented on stage twice. It premiered at the Alley Theatre in Houston, Texas in April and May of 1991, under the direction of Gregoy Boyd. There it won the Alton Jones Foundation Award for New American Musicals. The show moved on to the Asolo Theatre in Sarasota, Florida, also in 1991. Leading the cast for both productions were Chuck Wagner as Svengali, Linda Eder as Trilby, and Philip Hoffman as Gecko. Dave Clemmons was Billie in Houston and Jason Workman was Billie in Sarasota.



Photography by Jim Caldwell, courtesy of The Alley Theatre.


The Romantics is a theatrical recording project that is currently in development. Frank is working with several lyricists, creating a three-song "mini-musical" with each of them. These song sets are based on the lives of famous couples (both historical and fictional), and include a moment for the female lead, one for the male lead, and a moment shared between the two. The material is expected to be released on a series of recordings, with five sets on each volume. There are also hopes for additional plans, such as live and televised concerts.

Below are some of the mini-musicals which have been mentioned as part of this project. Frank and his collaborators have developed (or are in the process of developing) some of these titles into full length musicals.

Adam & Eve
Lyricist: Maury Yeston (Nine, Grand Hotel, Titanic)
 
Anna Karenina
Lyricist: Stephen Schwartz (Godspell, Pippin)
 
Antony and Cleopatra
Lyricist: David Zippel (City of Angels, Disney's "Hercules")
 
Bonnie and Clyde
Lyricist: Don Black (Sunset Boulevard, Aspects of Love)
 
Camille Claudel
Lyricist: Nan Knighton (The Scarlet Pimpernel, Saturday Night Fever)
 
Cyrano de Bergerac<
Lyricist: Leslie Bricusse (Jekyll and Hyde, Victor/Victoria)
 
F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald
Lyricist: Jack Murphy (The Civil War, Havana)
 
Heloise and Abelard
Lyricist: Robin Lerner
 
Ladyhawke
Lyricist: Jim Steinman (Tanz der Vampire)
 
Svengali
Lyricist: Gregory Boyd (The Civil War)
 
 

 

©Frank Wildhorn Productions 2012