It is typical for writers and producers to create something and then find a place to perform it. Brothers Stuart and Andrew Maxfield did just the opposite. They first secured a location and a date, and then set out to figure out what they were going to do in the BYU Harris Fine Arts Center Feb. 10 at 7:30 p.m. For them it was multiple choice with many possibilities.
“My brother is a front man with the band Fictionist—and we had wanted to work together for a long time,” says producer Andrew, also a musician. “I was looking for the alternative rock band to do what it does, but with a bigger sound in a cool concert hall. Mark Ammon, who directs the BYU Jazz Ensemble, agreed to a collaboration and scheduled the time and location. I turned to my brother and said, ‘Great. Now all we need is a show.’”
The result is 50-minute genre-bending musical that hovers somewhere behind a rock opera and a contemporary ballet. Called The Bridge, it features dancers, video, lighting and the combination of live acting and lighting projections that advance the story from beginning to end. In addition to Stuart Maxfield of Fictionist and the jazz ensemble, BYU will contribute the BYU Jazz Voices, a string quartet and two actor/dancers.
Special tickets for BYU alumni are available at TheBridge-Musical.com/byu-alumni. BYU alumni receive a 15 percent discount on tickets (while they last) as well as a four-song soundtrack digital EP and a copy of Fictionist’s most recent album.
Glen Nelson of New York City, one of their collaborators, suggested using Ambrose Bierce’s famous classic story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” The tale, whose fluid sense of time and place yield a surprise ending, has intrigued, and, in some cases, irritated, critics since it first appeared in The San Francisco Examiner in 1890.
The story hinges on a Civil War Confederate sympathizer who is about to be executed for tampering with a railroad bridge where his hanging is now scheduled. As he awaits his fate, he envisions his loving family and the possibility of escaping. Intricate plot elements describe his escape, but the reader is ultimately jerked back to a different reality.
“We jumped on the idea when this story was presented as one of the possibilities,” Andrew says. “I think the story is rock and roll through and through with an unexpected twist. It has a bit of a shock factor, but if you read it and pause between paragraphs, it brings to mind important, contemporary questions about allegiances during peace and war.”
Many people that Andrew considers exceptional artists jumped on board, and a year-and-a-half later the Maxfield brothers and their A-team emerged with 13 songs and a show. Among the contributors are Chris Clark, director; Jenny Barlow, choreographer; and Daniel Henderson, orchestration.