Preludes (musical)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
A musical fantasia set in the hypnotized mind of Sergei Rachmaninoff
Preludes graphic.jpg
MusicDave Malloy
LyricsDave Malloy
BookDave Malloy
Productions2015 Off-Broadway
2017 Austria
2018 Richmond, Virginia
2019 Off West End

Preludes is a musical fantasia set in the mind of Sergei Rachmaninoff, written and composed by Dave Malloy. The music is a combination of compositions by Rachmaninoff, Malloy, hybrids of the two, as well as music and lyrics from other related compositions.[1]


After the disastrous premiere of his first symphony, the young Rachmaninoff suffers from writer’s block. He begins daily sessions with a therapeutic hypnotist, in an effort to overcome depression and return to composing.[2]

Musical numbers[edit]

Music and lyrics by Dave Malloy except where noted.

†Not included on the Original Cast Recording
§ Music by Sergei Rachmaninoff

Principal roles and cast members[edit]

Character Off-Broadway (2015) Off West End (2019)
Rach Gabriel Ebert Keith Ramsay
Rachmaninoff Or Matias Tom Noyes
Dahl Eisa Davis Rebecca Caine
Natalya Nikki M. James Georgia Louise
Chaliapin Joseph Keckler Norton James
Chekhov / Tchaikovsky / Tolstoy /
Glazunov / Tsar Nicholas II / The Master
Chris Sarandon Steven Serlin


The piece premiered Off-Broadway in June 2015 at Lincoln Center Theater 3. The production team was helmed by Rachel Chavkin as director, Or Matias as music director, Bradley King as lighting designer, Mimi Lien as set designer, and Paloma Young as costume designer, all of whom had already collaborated with Malloy on Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.

In January 2017, the show made its European and German-language premiere at the Landestheater Linz, Austria.[4] It was directed by Johannes von Matuschka and music directed by Billy Christopher Maupin.

In 2018, Preludes was performed at Richmond, Virginia's Firehouse Theatre from May 23 to June 30.[5] It was directed by Billy Christopher Maupin and music directed by Susan Randolph Braden. The production team also featured Emily Dandridge as Choreographer, Tennesse Dixon as set and projection designer, Christian DeAngelis as lighting designer, Leslie Cook-Day as costume designer, and Ryan Dygert as sound designer.

Preludes premiered Off West End at the Southwark Playhouse on September 6, 2019 in a limited run until October 12.[6] The creative team will be lead by Alex Sutton as director and Jordan Li-Smith as music director, along with Christopher Nairne as lighting designer, Rebecca Brower as costume designer, Andrew Johnson as sound designer, Ste Clough as choreographer, Daisy On as stage manager.

Critical response[edit]

The piece was well received by the New York press; Ben Brantley in the New York Times wrote “Writer’s block turns out to be a lot more inspiring than you could ever have imagine—and sad and stirring and gloriously fun. In Preludes, Dave Malloy makes beautiful music out of a composer’s three years of creative silence…the best musical about art’s agonies since Georges Seurat wielded a twitchy paintbrush in Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Sunday in the Park With George. Mr. Malloy...incorporates wildly diverse sources—classical, folk, electro-pop—into a form that exists defiantly beyond the quotation marks of postmodernism. He’s that rarity, a smart sentimentalist whose self-consciousness about his feelings in no way dilutes them...Along with Fun Home and the soaring, Broadway-bound Hamilton, this smashing production says that the American musical is not only not dead but also growing luxuriantly in places you never expected."”[7]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Off-Broadway Production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2016 Lucille Lortel Award Outstanding Lead Actor in a Musical Gabriel Ebert Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actor in a Musical Or Matias Nominated
Chris Sarandon Nominated
Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical Eisa Davis Nominated

Richmond Production[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
2018 Richmond Theatre Critics Circle Award Best Musical Preludes Nominated
Best Director of a Musical Billy Christopher Maupin Won
Best Music Direction Susan Braden Won
Best Choreography Emily Berg-Poff Dandridge Nominated
Best Actor in a Musical PJ Freebourn Won
Best Supporting Actor in a Musical Travis West Nominated
Levi Meerovitch Won
Best Sound Design - Musical Ryan Dygert Nominated
Best Set Design - Musical Tennessee Dixon Nominated
Best Costume Design- Musical Leslie Cook-Day Nominated
Best Lighting Design- Musical Christian Detres Nominated
Best Ensemble Company Nominated


A cast album of the original Lincoln Center production was released on January 19, 2016 by Ghostlight Records.


  1. ^ "Preludes". Composer's website. New York.
  2. ^ "Preludes". Lincoln Center 3 website. New York.
  3. ^ [Preludes program, Lincoln Center Theater 3, June 2015]
  4. ^ Show Details [1], Landestheater Linz
  5. ^
  6. ^ Bowie-Sell, Daisy (June 27, 2019). "Preludes by Dave Malloy UK premiere to run at Southwark Playhouse". WhatsOnStage. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  7. ^ Brantley, Ben. [2], New York Times, June 15, 2015