(A Musical based on the Life of Norman Rockwell)
Years ago I read a remarkable life history called MY ADVENTURES AS AN ILLUSTRATOR, the story of the legendary Norman Rockwell as told by the artist to his son, Tom. The writing was lyrical, and the book captured my imagination. While the celebrated illustrator had fans believe his life was just like one of his “light-hearted, feel-good SATURDAY EVENING POST covers,” in truth the man was a tortured soul. He wanted to be Picasso, but had to be Rockwell, an illustrator of “kids and folksy old men,” as he told it, but certainly never respected among the art elite.
In fact, even the American public didn’t take his work seriously. In 1941, Norman, too old to enlist, wanted to serve his country during World War II. He pitched an idea to the War Department for a set of four war posters. Although he was an authentic “super star” of the day, the men in charge flatly rejected him.
“In the last war, we used illustrators, like you,” they told him, “but this time we want fine arts men. You know, REAL ARTISTS!”
I reread that sentence in disbelief. As the story unfolded, I became convinced that Norman Rockwell’s life was the basis for an exciting musical!! EBS
STORY IN BRIEF:
In 1904, a gawky kid meandered into a two-bit Carnival Side Show and learned a lesson that stuck forever. "Don't show life as it really is, but how folks want it to be." That creed made NORMAN ROCKWELL iconic. He inspired a nation to believe in the perfect family….but he knew better.
A high school drop-out at 15, only his art instructors nurtured him. His dismissive mother insisted he would end up penniless and alone. To prove her wrong, at 22, he married a girl who didn't love him…or his art. All his success and money couldn't prevent Irene from running away with another man. His second marriage was even more heartbreaking. Mary Barstow, his greatest champion, adored him, but Norman began to suffer from bouts of depression. As he became anxious and unsure about his art, he withdrew from Mary. Only when Mary turned to alcohol for comfort and he seemed to be losing her, did Norman realize what makes a family picture perfect. Indeed, the artist was "down for the count," but as he proved over and over again in his lifetime, no one should ever "count him out."
INTRODUCING THE STUDIO CAST RECORDING
With musical direction, arrangements, and piano accompaniment by 2012 Fred Ebb Award winner, SAM WILLMOTT, the new CD, PERFECT PICTURE,offers a dream cast of a dozen of Broadway's most distinguished award-winning artists, including DEBBIE GRAVITTE, RON HOLGATE, JUDY KAYE, BETH LEAVEL, MARK JACOBY, ANDREA MCARDLE, EMILY SKINNER, RANDY SKINNER, BOB STILLMAN, LILLIAS WHITE, TOM WOPAT, and KAREN ZIEMBA.
AWARDS AND ACCOLADES
In March 2017 PERFECT PICTURE wins
Global Music Silver Medal Award for
Best Musical Theatre Album.
I was so honored to present a special concert presentation of Gail Bluestone and Eileen Bluestone Sherman’s musical, PERFECT PICTURE, as part of my 2016-17 Broadway’s Future Series at Lincoln Center’s Bruno Walter Auditorium. This is a very dynamic new musical that focuses on the life and career of Norman Rockwell - the renowned American author, painter and illustrator. This is a musical that deserves to be heard! Its wonderful music and lyrics, along with its terrific libretto, combine to make this a real treasure. Norman Rockwell is someone we all know thru his art, but we get to know every facet of his life in PERFECT PICTURE!
Broadway’s Future Songbook