Tuesday, December 17, 2013 at 9:05 a.m.
Photo by Mark Vancleave
For the first time in years, Bradley Greenwald isn't working through the holidays. The busy actor and singer is a favorite throughout the area, but after performing in Gulliver Unravels last month, he was free in December.
So, of course, he put together a show.
Greenwald will present a collection of songs and poems inspired by the solstice, titled The Longest Night, this week at Open Eye Figure Theatre.
As it turns out, there isn't that much material directly inspired by the solstice. "One thing I love to do is research. I used Google and Youtube to look for material," Greenwald says.
The research led him to works that aren't necessarily connected to the season, but felt right for the vibe that Greenwald wanted to build. "There are sections of Schubert and Grieg, and some haikus that I found that shouldn't go together but do," Greenwald says.
Other selections include a section from a Bach cello concerto that Sting added lyrics to. "It brings to mind the winter," Greenwald says.
Another piece came from a video of an unpublished song that was presented at a party. "It's a Noel Coward-like song about suicidal tendencies," Greenwald says.
He wanted to use the piece, but getting the rights was another issue entirely. Eventually, "through three degrees of separation I got his email address, and he is letting me do this in the program," Greenwald says.
Greenwald works with accompanist Sonja Thompson for the performances. Working at Open Eye is something both of them are looking forward to, especially as it affords them a chance to perform without amplification.
"It's a rare gift to give an audience an acoustic performance," Greenwald says. "I prefer it because I get to be in charge of my own sound. The sound designers in town are so good, and you need it in these bigger spaces. The chance [to sing acoustic] makes the audience come to you. They are more active in the exchange. In a big living room space like Open Eye, you can indulge in that experience as the performer and the audience."
Once the show closes Sunday, Greenwald will have a rare couple of weeks off. It marks a difference from past years. "Usually, I'm doing eight or ten shows a week and trying not to get sick. This year, I get to do domestic things like baking and gift buying and planning. It's a nice gift for me," he says.
Once the year turns to 2014, Greenwald will be back at work, taking part in Ten Thousand Things' The Music Man. As far as The Longest Night goes, "I'm hoping it will let people step back and see what makes holiday traditions and winter so beautiful," Greenwald says.
IF YOU GO
The Longest Night
7:30 p.m. Thursday-Sunday; 4 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Open Eye Figure Theatre
506 E. 24th St., Minneapolis
For tickets and more information, call 612.874.6338 or visit online.