Liaisons (Sep. 2015)

Writer / Performer

Cast and directors from  Liaisons . Image by Grant Preisser.

Cast and directors from Liaisons. Image by Grant Preisser.

Liaisons Performance/Production Credits

  • Produced by Student Opera Society at Florida State University
  • Director: Grant Preisser
  • Music Director: Lori Milbier
  • Writer: Matt Cooksey
  • Flora: Jessica Bloch
  • Dora: Nadia Marshall
  • Andy: Justin John Moniz
  • Bill: Matt Cooksey
  • Don: Titus Muzi
  • Despina: Alexandra Blackwell

Liaisons was born from the need to start off a student opera company's season quickly - a short show with limited rehearsals reaching as wide an audience as possible. The board of Student Opera Society (SOS) came up with the idea for a musical revue, and I suggested an adaptation of the plot from Così fan tutte to serve as the basis for our revue. Grant Preisser - the President at the time - greenlit the project, and I hurriedly worked on writing it. 

I knew how the basic skeleton would function well (introduce couples, propose the bet, reunite in disguise, reveal the ruse, and resolve), so the larger task for me was selecting the music that would accompany the plot. I made the decision to pull songs from Broadway's Golden Age, from composers like Rodgers & Hammerstein, Lerner & Loewe, Porter, and Bernstein among others. In my mind, these songs had a believable connection to operatic singing rather than musical theatre pieces in the proceeding decades following the Golden Age, or similar songs by Great America Songbook composers set with jazz band.

In any case, Liaisons was one of my first experiences adapting and arranging a piece for production, and Lori Milbier did a terrific job of adding transitional music between scenes based on accompanimental reprises. The performance was costumed from items the cast provided and performed off-book to Preisser's staging. It succeeded in demonstrating that SOS was about action, putting singers on the stage if they could sacrifice a couple weeks of time to learn a show, rehearse it, and perform. It also proved to me that I could take familiar stories and twist or revitalize them in a new context, which I continue to do in some fashion with all of my directing efforts.