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LePetit Theatre remembers Hurricanes Betsy and Katrina

25th August 2014   ·   0 Comments

By Kelly Parker
Contributing Writer

The new season of Le Petit Theatre gets off to an appropriate start; remembering Hurricanes Betsy and Katrina with “Nine Lives: A Musical Witness of New Orleans”, which takes place on August 27, 28 and 29.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Paul Sanchez’s musical adaptation of journalist Dan Baum’s book, “Nine Lives” has played to critical acclaim locally and in New York and is a fitting way to commemorate the 9th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.

Featuring a cast of 17, “Nine Lives” musically depicts the personal stories of a diverse selection of New Orleanians spanning the forty years between the two historical events.

The 2005 hurricane brought Baum to New Orleans to write a series of pieces about a city in recovery and led him to write the city’s back story, covering the time between Hurricane Betsy (1965) and the contemporary calamity of Hurricane Katrina.

Baum told this story through the lives of nine New Orleanians.

About the adaptation, Sanchez told The Louisiana Weekly, “We wrote songs (39 total) because that’s all I know how to do; me writing music and me and (Colman) throwing words at each other. We got help on the songs we wrote from John Boutte and Tony Award winner Michael Cerveris. “

The show’s credits are a who’s who of New Orleans theater and music, including Bryan Batt, Rick Duplantier and Roxy Bergeron, Matt Perrine, Shamarr Allen, Debbie Davis, Robin Barnes, along with many other local musicians.

If you’re familiar with (Dan’s) book, you know it’s about nine actual New Orleanians lives,” says. “And even if you’re not familiar with the book, you know some of the names: like Irma Thomas and Frank Minyard, who just retired as corner after 40 years. The guy was on duty for 40 years and also playing jazz trumpet in the clubs. What a great New Orleans character!

“When I got started, I didn’t want to think about the flood anymore and I thought I was beginning to write songs that were about other peoples’ thing. When I look back at the songs now, I can’t tell where Dan’s words leave off and mine come in.” Sanchez stated. “I realize later that I was given a really special cathartic opportunity as an artist to unleash all my pain, all my feelings of loss and all my feelings of hopeful triumphant return through other peoples’ words, other peoples’ pain and joy; though other peoples’ lives, I was able to heal myself-through the music. And it was my every intention that the songs would do the same for audiences. I hope the folks that bought their tickets that haven’t seen it yet are ready to embrace that feeling.”

For ticket information, go to www.lepetittheatre.com.

This article originally published in the August 25, 2014 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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