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Thalia Book Club: Nine Lives: Mystery, Magic, Death, and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum
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This project is funded by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.

+ About the Performance
This program was recorded 02/27/2011 at Symphony Space.

A behind-the-scenes look at how Nine Lives, a multi-voice biography of New Orleans, is being made into a musical, with performances and discussion by author Dan Baum (who reported on post-Katrina New Orleans for The New Yorker), songwriter Paul Sanchez, lyricist/book writer Colman DeKay, singer Arséne DeLay, singer Deborah Davis, and Tony Award-winning actor Michael Cerveris (In the Next Room-or the Vibrator PlayFringe).

"Baum's technique brings to mind Robert Altman's filmNashville...He adroitly moves his subjects through parades, prison, divorces, sex changes, fancy balls and gun brawls" - The Washington Post

+ About the Artists

Dan Baum has been a staff writer for The New Yorker, as well as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, The Wall Street Journal: Asia, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is the author of Smoke and Mirrors: The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure (1997) and Citizen Coors: A Grand Family Saga of Business, Politics, and Beer (2001). He has written numerous articles for such publications as The New York Times Magazine, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and Wired. While living in New Orleans to research Nine Lives, Dan wrote a daily online column for The New Yorker. All of his work is a collaboration with his wife and writing partner, Margaret Knox. Dan’s book Nine Lives was the inspiration for the recording and theatrical versions of Nine Lives.

Michael Cerveris is an actor, composer, and musician, perhaps best known for his roles in such Broadway musicals as Titanic, LoveMusik, Road Show, Sweeney Todd, and Assassins, for which he won a Tony Award. He has also appeared in revivals of King Lear, Cymbaline, and Hedda Gabler. Most recently, he originated the role of Dr. Givings in In The Next Room or The Vibrator Play by Sarah Ruhl. Currently, Cerveris can be seen in the recurring role of The Observer in Fox’s science fiction drama Fringe and in the film Stake Land. Cerveris sings the role of John/Joann on the original Nine Lives recording and is producing and guiding Nine Lives on its way to the stage.

Deborah Davis is a singer who has recorded with John Boutte, Dukes of Dixieland, and Leigh Harris, Tom McDermott, among other musicians. She has spent the last decade performing locally and internationally with The Pfister Sisters. In 2010, she appeared singing as herself on the HBO series Treme, as well as the Grammy Nominated compilation album Treme: Music From The HBO Original Series, Season 1. She was also nominated by Offbeat Magazine for Best Female Vocalist of 2010. She is New Orleans’ premier female ukulelist and is proud to endorse Southcoast Ukes. Davis sings on a number of tracks on the original Nine Lives CD and coordinated the vocal arrangements.

Colman DeKay is a Los Angeles-based screenwriter and Emmy-nominated TV writer. He has written over 75 hours of television for producers such as Steven Spielberg, Robert Zemeckis, Joel Silver and Penn & Teller. He has scripted films for Steven Soderbergh, Sony Pictures, and Warner Independent. For the stage, he wrote and co-created with director Des McAnuff Sinatra: His Voice. His World. His Way for Radio City Music Hall. DeKay is the lyric and book writer of the Nine Lives project.

Arséne DeLay hails from one of the musical families of New Orleans’ 7th Ward. Her recent stage credits include Songs and Dances of Imaginary Lands (Overtone Industries), Much Ado About Nothing, Death and the King’s Horseman (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), and Helen of Troy (Getty Villa). She can be found on stage with Vaud and the Villains, a 1930s-themed music cabaret show, bringing uncontrollable bouts of dancing and revelry to the streets of Los Angeles. DeLay sings the role of Marie and additional vocals on the original Nine Lives CD.

Paul Sanchez is a troubadour from New Orleans. Last year, he was honored with three Best of the Beat Awards by OffBeat Magazine, for Songwriter of the Year, Best Song of the Year for “Hey God” and Best Folk/Rock Album for Stew Called New Orleans in January 2010. He appears in the hit HBO series Treme singing the song “Foot of Canal Street,” which he wrote with long-time collaborator John Boutte; Boutte and Sanchez also appear on the Grammy-nominated compilation album Treme: Music From The HBO Original Series, Season 1. His band, Paul Sanchez and The Rolling Road Show, is a celebration of New Orleans music, communication and letting the good times roll through many different styles (rock, brass band, funk, folk, gospel and jazz). Sanchez is the composer of Nine Lives and sings the role of Frank Minyard on the original recording.


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