Just before Weill died, he drafted five songs for a prospective musical based on Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn with book and lyrics by Maxwell Anderson. The team intended to follow up on the success of Lost in the Stars, still running on Broadway at the time. The show was never finished, and the songs survived only as sheet music. Now a brand-new German-language property restores the songs to a dramatic context. German novelist and playwright John von Düffel (Houwelandt, dramatizations of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Mann’s Joseph and His Brothers) has created a new musical titled Tom Sawyer und Huckleberry Finn based on Mark Twain’s immortal novels. The music has been orchestrated for a nine-player ensemble (2 woodwinds, trumpet, trombone, guitar/banjo, keyboard, piano, bass, drums).
Devised for family audiences, the new show was completed just last summer and has already seen performances in Göttingen and Basel. So far it has been getting very good press. The Göttinger Tageblatt hailed “Ein praller zweistündiger Theaterabend, der vom Publikum mit rauschendem Beifall bedacht wurde” (two jam-packed hours in the theater, greeted with noisy applause). The book and lyrics are entirely in German, with translations of Anderson’s original words for the Huck Finn songs and new lyrics written for other songs originally composed for Weill/Anderson shows. The show is available only in German-speaking territories (Germany, Switzerland, Austria); please direct licensing inquiries to Felix Bloch Erben in Berlin.
Tom Sawyer und Huckleberry Finn joins two other recent stage works that incorporate a full selection of Weill’s songs: Jonathan Eaton’s Songplay, licensed by European American Music and Harold Prince and Alfred Uhry’s LoveMusik, performed on Broadway in 2007 and licensed by Rodgers & Hammerstein.