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See What I Wanna See

words and music by Michael John LaChiusa, based on short stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa, as translated by Takashi Kojima
Musical, Comedy/Drama
3 men, 2 women (doubling)
Total Cast: 5, Minimalist/Bare Stage
ISBN-13: 978-0-8222-2169-2

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THE STORY: SEE WHAT I WANNA SEE, a musical about lust, greed, murder, faith and redemption, was named by New York Magazine as one of the Best Musicals of 2005 and nominated for nine Drama Desk Awards, including Best Musical. It is based on three short stories by the Japanese writer Ryunosuke Akutagawa and unfolds like a classical Japanese screen painting.

In KESA AND MORITO, set in medieval Japan, two lovers sing of the ecstasy and torment of their illicit affair and their determination to end it that night. Neither knows the other’s intent.

R SHOMON, set in 1951, New York City, follows the investigation of a crime of passion and the witnesses’ contradicting versions of the event. An innocent bystander, a cunning thief, a flirtatious wife, a psychic, even the ghost of the murdered man are all caught in a web of deceit, where everyone’s truth may be a lie.

GLORYDAY, set in present-day New York City, introduces a priest during a crisis of faith after a terrible tragedy strikes the city. Disillusioned and angry, he plays a practical joke and posts an anonymous letter in Central Park, declaring that Christ will appear, rising from the pond. At first, the joke is embraced by an unstable CPA, who has chosen to live in the wilds of the park. Soon others begin to believe in the miracle, including a drug-addicted actress and a bitter reporter—even the priest’s atheist aunt. On the day of the miracle, a storm blows through the Park, and only the priest sees his lie become a truth.
“SEE WHAT I WANNA SEE is a little powerhouse of a show whose sheer intensity will knock you flat—and make you think. LaChiusa’s stagecraft is sure, and his edgy, pop-flavored score commandingly individual. He is thinking hard about the future of the post–Sondheim musical, and in SEE WHAT I WANNA SEE he has gone a long way toward showing us what it will look like.” —Wall Street Journal.

“Mr. LaChiusa delivers songs that strike at the heart. They throb with both communal feelings of hope and anxiety and a specific sense of character. The warmth arrives like a sunburst in GLORYDAY where the notions of truth and belief are extended to a cosmic level. In song the characters blossom into individuals whose timbres and cadences identify them as specifically as the shapes of their heads and bodies.” —The New York Times.

“SEE WHAT I WANNA SEE has all the music you’d want from Broadway—cool jazz and all-purpose pop—loaded with some of the most succinct, precise, sexually frank lyrics I’ve heard in musical theater.” —Philadelphia Inquirer.

“An intelligent, adult musical that entertains and astonishes at the same time…This smoky, sexy saga enhanced by LaChiusa’s muscular, jazzy score, flecked with Japanese influences and tough, punchy lyrics, makes SEE WHAT I WANNA SEE a highly original, even innovative journey.” —Associated Press.

“Sassily innovative, consistently tantalizing and insidiously memorable, the protean race of the music through jazz, Tin Pan Alley, show tunes and classical is riveting. We get triple suspense leading us into an aural and emotional kaleidoscope. The show will make you feel, think and, above all, groove.” —Bloomberg

“A typically smart work from Michael John LaChiusa, SEE WHAT I WANNA SEE is a must-see.” —The Star-Ledger (NJ).

“LaChiusa’s tight-knit composition, with its feverishly racing, New Yorkily compulsive stream of words, is the strongest single piece of music theatre he has yet made. Packed w