Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois has been adapted into a musical theater production that will premiere this summer as part of the 20th anniversary season for Bard College’s Fisher Center in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
Adapted from Stevens’ landmark 2005 album, the stage production features music and lyrics penned by Stevens, choreography by Justin Peck (who also choreographed Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story), and a story written by Peck and Pulitzer Prize-winner Jackie Sibblies Drury. It will run from June 23rd through July 2nd. Tickets start at $25 and are available here.
“Featuring new arrangements of the entire album for a live band and three voices — ranging in style from DIY folk and indie rock to marching band and ambient electronics — Illinois will lead us on a mighty journey through the American heartland, from campfire storytelling to the edges of the cosmos,” the description for the production reads. “Tony Award-winner Justin Peck transforms the album into a full-length theatrical performance with a cast of virtuosic dancers, singers, and musicians in a narrative crafted with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury.”
Upon opening, there will also be a number of exciting opportunities to meet and hear from the creators of the production. On opening night itself, there will be a ticketed cast party (with tickets starting at $150). In the following days, there will also be a pre-performance talk and a post-performance conversation with the artists. For those living in New York City (just two and a half hours away by car), there will be a coach providing transportation to and fro from June 25th through July 2nd.
Illinois itself is a beloved entry in the canon of 21st century music. Earning a cult following and forever cementing Stevens’ name in the minds and hearts of indieheads, it’s continued to hold a high status, even as its 20th anniversary approaches.
Writing a retrospective, Consequence’s own Sam Mwakasisi said: “Illinois labors on being nothing if not truthful to the values of a modernized country, and even if Stevens’ interpretation exists as a distant beacon, there’s something vital to be found within the harmony of the album’s acknowledgment that our darkness and light are equally elemental, firmly communal forces… Illinois is a tale written by the everyman in us all, and it’s still being written to this moment, which poses one question: How will the story of America continue?”
Set to embrace these themes and grapple with that same question, the new adaptation of Illinois is the latest extension to the beautiful expressions Sufjan forged all those years ago. Read more about the upcoming production here.