THE OXFORD EPIDEMIC

Book and Lyrics by Seth Christenfeld and James K. Ballard

Music by James K. Ballard

Suggested by the novel Zuleika Dobson by Max Beerbohm

 

It is 1911.  Oxford University is a stable and orderly--and all-male--world. When the world-famous beauty and illusionist Zuleika Dobson comes to Oxford to visit her professor grandfather, every young man on campus falls desperately in love with her--particularly the trendsetting Duke of Dorset. Zuleika rebuffs the Duke's confession of love, leading him to threaten suicide if she will not love him: a decision which sets off a chain reaction that threatens to destroy Oxford and, perhaps, all of England. But will he go through with it? And will she care? And who's that older man who's telling us the story?

 

The Oxford Epidemic is a dark musical farce that--in addition to providing plenty of laughter (we hope)--examines issues of obsession, male stupidity, and war. The score is influenced by all sorts of British music, from Elgar and Gilbert and Sullivan to the Beatles and Adele. (We keep trying to get a James Bond theme in there, but we keep cutting it.)

 

The Oxford Epidemic was conceived and developed at NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program as James' and my thesis project. Our first draft received a reading there on April 22nd, 2014. The director was Nick Corley, the music director was Milton Granger, and the cast was as follows:

The Writer: Michael Winther

The Duke of Dorset: Brian Charles Rooney

Zuleika Dobson: Mary Kate Morrissey

Katie/Woman: Katie Emerson

Man 1: Daniel Everidge

Noaks/Man 2: Jed Resnick

Warden/Man 3: Curt Olds

 

A reading of a revised draft was held at NYU as part of the CDP (Collaborative Development and Production) program on March 20th, 2015.  Robert Heller directed, the music director was Max Mamon, Brandon Anderson was the stage manager/dramaturg, and the cast was as follows:

The Writer: Bryan Austermann

The Duke of Dorset: Trevor Bunce

Zuleika Dobson: Corynne Peters

Katie: Gwynne Richmond

Noaks: Joshua Israel

Ensemble: Ziye Hu, Kaitlyn Reda, Matt Stoke, and Taylor Ybarra

 

CDP continued with a fully-staged workshop at the Frederick Loewe Theatre at NYU/Tisch on July 25th, 26th, and 27th, 2015.  Robert Heller directed, Mark Evans was the music director, Brandon Anderson was the stage manager and dramaturg, Mia Sommese was the assistant director and choreographer, Zac Fadler was the assistant music director, Aaron Bowersox designed the lights, and the cast was as follows:

The Writer: Bryan Austermann

The Duke of Dorset: Colin Parrinello

Zuleika Dobson: Gabrielle Mariella

Katie/Ensemble: Emily Seal

Noaks/Alvarez/Mr. Trent-Garby/Ensemble: Zac Fadler

Mélisande/Ensemble: Kaitlyn Reda

Warden/The MacQuern/Ensemble: Emilio Madrid-Kuser

Homme Français/Lord Sayes/Ensemble: Spencer Perdeck

Uomo Italiano/Sir John Marraby/Ensemble: Hector Fortun

 

Below, you can watch videos of two songs from the show; click on Media>Audio above for demos.

 

The Wonder That Is Me

Sung by Brian Charles Rooney

Good-Looking Corpse

Sung by Brian Charles Rooney

with Forest Van Dyke, James K. Ballard, Devin Ilaw, and Jonny Pearson