Beyond the Paul

Posted by on April 16, 2012

If you dug February House at the Long Wharf Theatre last month, you’re probably intrigued by some of the projects being worked by the based-on-real-life inhabitants of the titular literary boarding house of the new musical.

One you hear quite a lot about is the ill-fated 1941 youth opera Paul Bunyan by February House residents Benjamin Britten and W. H. Auden. Paul Bunyan was not well received and has rarely been revived, but you can amazingly find a production of it in Boston today. It’s Paul Bunyan’s first Boston production ever, for a mere four performances at the Paramount Theatre. The work was written to be performed by high school groups but has been refashioned for students at New England Conservatory and directed by the NEC’s new Artistic Director of Opera, Stephen Lord.

A review of Paul Bunyan by Jeffrey Gantz appeared in today’s Boston Globe, here.

Other projects mentioned in February House include Gypsy Rose Lee’s mystery novel The G-String Murders, edited (and presumably co-written) by the house’s owner George Davis. The book is currently out of print, but it’s the kind of thing that used book stores love to keep around, and it is regularly republished; mass-market publisher Penguin reissued it as recently as 1984. The 1943 film version, Lady of Burlesque starring Barbara Stanwyck, is even more readily available—as a bargain-priced DVD and streaming at such video-on-demand sites as Netflix and Amazon.

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