Dave Malloy, the mind behind the absolutely beautiful music of Beardo, is a composer/writer/performer/orchestrator/sound designer. His shows include Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812; Ghost Quartet; Preludes; Black Wizard/Blue Wizard; Three Pianos; All Hands; Beardo; Beowulf – A Thousand Years of Baggage; The Sewers; Sandwich; Clown Bible; and (The 99-cent) Miss Saigon. He is the winner of two Obie Awards, the Richard Rodgers Award, an ASCAP New Horizons Award, and a Jonathan Larson Grant. Future projects include adaptations of Moby-Dick and Shakespeare’s Henriad. He lives in Brooklyn. Learn more about Dave in our interview below, and grab your tickets to Beardo today!
Pipeline Theatre Company: What compelled you to write this show?
Dave Malloy: I have both long been fascinated by the tales of Rasputin, this seemingly demonic shaman who somehow charmed his way into the Tsar’s palace, and by the crazy fiasco/myth of his assassination, in which the seemingly immortal Rasputin had to be poisoned, then shot, then wrapped in a rug and drowned in the river. So when Jason had the idea to do a piece about him (with the Shotgun Players, back in 2010), I jumped at the chance to explore this cultish figure, and to indulge in both Russian classical music and paganistic ritual music with a string quartet.
PTC: How do you see this production of Beardo differing from the Berkeley production?
DM: You always learn so much during the first run of a show; so this has been an amazing opportunity to dig back into the piece and fix the things that needed massaging, do some small edits and structural reshuffling, refine some of the melodies and orchestrations, and add a couple new bits. Plus of course our new cast and new director/designers are breathing tons of new life into the show, as is our amazing church venue. And the current political clownshitshow is of course influencing the way we hear this piece about a dangerous charlatan working his way into the highest ranks of the government as well.
PTC: What excites you most about this production?
DM: Pipe organ!
PTC: More generally, what excites you as a composer?
DM: Mmmm in general I really enjoy bringing old stories to life with contemporary language and music, and exploring that dissonance between history and aesthetics.
PTC: Beardo begins the play searching for something in a hole – What is your “hole” and what do you think you are searching for?
DM: I’ll let you know soon as I’ve found it.
PTC: Are you attracted to Beardo the character? What about him is attractive or repulsive?
DM: The craziest thing to me is that most accounts seem to confirm that he did in fact have some healing effect on the Tsar’s heir, Alexei, a boy of 3 suffering from hemophilia. So I’m pretty fascinated by the gentleness implied by that, in contrast to the other, more demonic and hedonistic tales that are told.
PTC: If you could create a tagline for the show, what would it be?
DM: Well we did! “Royalty, peasantry, sex, dirt, grandeur, and hemophilia” is something Shotgun, Jason and I came up with back in the day. I might add “glissandi” to the list (the strings play a ton of them).