It takes a lot of persistence and courage to keep plugging on for 27 years to finish a work based on your own life and family. It also takes a lot of chutzpah to show all the ups and downs and to put it on a stage for the whole world to see. That is the story of Ricky Ian Gordon and his newest musical Sycamore Trees.
Rick Ian Gordon is one of Joel’s favorite composers, so he looked forward to sitting down with him minutes before the show’s last preview performance at Signature Theatre.
Director Tina Landau has assembled some of Broadway’s greatest singers – “a dream cast”- Marc Kudisch, playing the father Sydney, Diane Sutherland, playing the mother Edie, Judy Kuhn, Jessica Molaskey, and Farah Alvin playing the three sisters, and Tony Yazbeck, who plays Andrew (who is based on Ricky), and Matthew Risch, who plays David, Andrew’s lover (based on Ricky’s lover) and The Man. And to have Tina, a long-time collaborator direct it – well, it’s a dream come true for the energetic, likeable, prolific, and emotional Ricky Ian Gordon.
Why call his new musical Sycamore Trees? “It’s about this couple that lives in the Bronx who move to the suburbs of Long Island. Sycamore trees were planted in all the suburbs of America because they grew quickly, and they provide great shade. They were the great witnesses”.
Ricky talks easily about writing Sycamore Trees, the auditions, the casting and the pressure-filled process of fine-tuning the work before allowing the critics to come on press night, Sunday, May 30th. Ricky talks about his family, and especially his love for his mother Eve, once a famous Catskills singer/comedienne. If you stay after the final notes of the orchestra are played, you can hear Ricky’s mother Eve sing a famous Yiddish song, filling the Max Theatre with her beautiful voice.
It’s been an emotional roller-coaster for composer Ricky Ian Gordon. Listen in to hear his very personal journey.