Sunday, May 18, 2008

THE BOOK OF 2 SAMUEL has been made into a musical, with the Archangel Metatron as one of the characters:
Reconsidering a King as a Lord of the Dance
The Spirit That Moves Theater J's 'David' Comes From the Sole

By Celia Wren
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, May 18, 2008; Page M04

You might think of it as the original "Dancing With the Stars." The biblical book of 2 Samuel recounts how David, king of Israel, leaped and capered in worshipful jubilation as the ark of the covenant -- symbolizing God's presence -- progressed toward Jerusalem.

That scriptural episode has long fascinated Yehuda Hyman, a Los Angeles playwright and former professional dancer. With the gamboling-monarch anecdote at the back of his mind, Hyman found himself musing more broadly on the David story. The upshot is "David in Shadow and Light," a musical receiving its world premiere at Theater J. Boasting a libretto by Hyman and a Middle Eastern-flavored score by Daniel Hoffman (a klezmer violin virtuoso), the show runs through June 22 under Nick Olcott's direction.

"David" is a chronicle of the biblical hero, from his slingshot triumph to his exploits as army commander to the highs and lows of his reign over Israel. With a quarter-million-dollar budget, a four-person band and staging that runs to puppetry and other high-concept touches, the musical is the boldest, costliest and most time-intensive production ever for Theater J, according to Artistic Director Ari Roth.

The cast includes Matt Pearson (MetroStage's "tick, tick . . . BOOM!") as the young David, and Bobby Smith doubling as Saul and the older David. Will Gartshore portrays Saul's son Jonathan. Enlivening the musical's postmodern-frame tale (based on a legend from a midrash, a storytelling exegesis of biblical texts), Donna Migliaccio depicts the Archangel Metatron, who is screening a movie biography of David for Adam (Norman Aronovic), of Garden of Eden fame.

Note: it was a sling, not a slingshot. Also, in case you're wondering, Metatron does not actually appear in 2 Samuel. I'm not sure which midrash served as the inspiration. Anyone know?

Cross file under "Metatron watch."

UPDATE (17 June): More here.