Talking Band and La MaMa E.T.C. present
The Golden Toad
January 23 – February 07, 2015
at The Ellen Stewart Theater
66 East 4th Street
New York, NY 10003

(photo by Suzanne Opton)

Talking Band celebrates their Fortieth Season with an all-new original music-theater epic that traces the shifting identities of its characters over time and changing circumstances. Developed by the company in four-site specific locations: the garden of a Brooklyn townhouse, a tour bus travelling through the New Jersey Meadowlands, a pop-up clothing store in the East Village, and a mysterious karaoke bar called The Golden Toad – this world premiere production re-imagines the original sites throughout The Ellen Stewart Theater, and takes the audience on a journey through four discrete yet interrelated worlds.

The Golden Toad
Directed by Paul Zimet
Written by Ellen Maddow and Paul Zimet
Composed by Ellen Maddow and Elizabeth Swados
Puppets by Eric Wright
Sets and Video by Anna Kiraly
Costumes by Kiki Smith
Lights by Lenore Doxsee
Production Stage Manager: Nic Adams

Featuring: James Clements, Michael Evans, James Tigger! Ferguson, Helen Gutowski, Melanie Herrera, Mikeah Ernest Jennings, Maria Kovacevic, John Kruth, Ellen Maddow, Nicolas Noreña, Dara Orland, Tina Shepard, Georgia Stettner, and Rebecca Weller

This season Talking Band is trying something new.

About The Golden Toad

The Golden Toad follows the same group of characters over time and shifting circumstances. The four episodes add on to each other like overlays of transparencies: with each new layer our earlier understanding of whom a character is shifts dramatically.

For the past several years the company has been creating and producing two new works a year. For this project, Talking Band decided to develop a new work over the course of nearly 18 months. Throughout the year Talking Band presented each episode as a site-specific work-in-progress. The locations provide another layer to the theme of fluid identity.

The first episode took place in the garden of an old townhouse on a small tree-lined street in downtown Brooklyn surrounded by glass office towers, condominiums and construction sites: it is a small sliver of an older Brooklyn on the verge of erasure. The second episode took place on a bus tour of the New Jersey Meadowlands. The guide points out sites that no longer exist, or exist only in traces. One must imagine what was once there. Episode Three was in pop-up thrift clothing store. It is ephemeral, a place with no solid existence. The last episode in the Golden Toad Karaoke bar is a crossroad, a place where all the characters lives finally intersect. As the name suggests, it is a place of transformation and revelation. What seems ordinary or even repulsive may show itself to be resplendent, and conversely a gilded surface may reveal a toad lurking beneath.

During this past year, the same audience and artists traveled through the play together, and this journey culminates at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theater beginning January 23, 2015. For the La MaMa production, Anna Kiraly will design sets in different areas of the theater that both re-create and re-imagine the original locales. Puppet maker Eric Wright will be creating life-sized puppets for The Golden Toad, and long-time collaborators Kiki Smith (costumes) and Lenore Doxsee (lights) will be completing this extraordinary design team.

For this production Talking Band is delighted to re-unite with Elizabeth Swados who will be composing music for The Golden Toad. Nearly forty-years ago, early in her distinguished composing career, Liz wrote the music for Talking Band’s first production, The Kalevala.