Encores! rolls out its special summer staging of the rarely-seen 1978 musical Runaways, which was conceived and written by Elizabeth Swados, who died earlier this year.
Here are seven things you need to known about the show:
* Swados not only wrote the book, music and lyrics, but she also directed and choreographed the production.
* She based her writings on dozens of interviews conducted with actual runaways, after many hours of observing them interacting with each other and with adults.
* Long before Hamilton, Swados made sure that the cast was multi-cultural (many actors making their professional stage debuts), that the sources of her material were multi-cultural and that the music reflected that, consisting of reggae, soul, rock, R&B, punk, lullabyes and spoken word poetry.
* The musical premiered Off-Broadway February 21, 1978, at the Public Theater Cabaret (now known as Joe's Pub). It moved Broadway's Plymouth (now Schoenfeld) Theatre on May 13, 1978 and closed December 31, 1978, after 12 previews and 274 performances.
* The show attacks the hippie generation in “Where Are Those People Who Did Hair,” a reference to a musical that had also originated under the auspices of the Public Theater. Swados wrote that the song is “intended to say that every generation has to hate the previous generation in order to define itself,” but,. responding to complaints that the show made parents out to be villains, Swados also wrote, “If there’s anyone that this song hates, it’s not the people who did Hair, it’s the media.”
* The show was nominated for five Tony Awards (Best Musical, Best Direction of a Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Original Score, and Best Choreography) — all to Swados. She won none.
* Swados (February 5, 1951 – January 5, 2016) died following surgery for esophageal cancer.
Read: Jeanine Tesori on Swados Legacy and the Infuence of Runaways