Theatre: Artie Shaw and His Cinderella
Theatre Staged Reading
Artie Shaw was a bandleader, clarinetist, precision marksman, expert fly fisher, composer, World War II veteran, and writer in the booming swing era of the 1930’s and 40’s. Born May 23, 1910 in New York, he was the only child of Jewish immigrants from Russia and Austria. At 15 years old, shortly after picking up the clarinet for the first time, he quit school to pursue music. Once he formed a permanent band, his music blended jazz, classical, Afro-Cuban influences, and string arrangements into a style that was all his own. At the height of his career Shaw tried to hire Billie Holiday as the band’s vocalist, and while she decided not to stick around, one of Shaw’s greatest hits “Any Old Times” came out of the temporary partnership. Known as the “King of Clarinet” and for calling his fans “morons” for that title (King of Swing, please), Shaw was both a virtuosic composer and outspoken public figure.
Aside from his music, Shaw was infamous for his romantic liaisons. He was married a total of eight times to many high profile women including actresses Lana Turner and Ava Gardner. His more stable relationship with writing came to fruition in his autobiography, The Trouble with Cinderella: An Outline of Identity, which was published in 1952. During the following two decades he published two collections of short stories.
Artie Shaw and His Cinderella by Joan Martin Burke, and directed by Lois Roach, Lecturer in Theatre Studies, is part of the Fall 2014 New Works Series. In the play, our notorious bandleader, Artie Shaw, has just died. He finds himself detained in a bare, drab room adjacent to the Main Room, awaiting assignment to his final destination. When he learns that his fate is to be decided by the votes from his eight ex-wives, his chances of reaching the Main Room are in real jeopardy. Will he make it or not?