Brian is a playwright, lyricist and translator whose rhymed-verse translations of the works of Euripides, Rostand and Molière are published by Broadway Play Publishing and have been featured in the literary journals Asymptote and The Mercurian. Other theatrical works include a modernization of Thackeray's Vanity Fair and musicals based on Rostand's Chantecler and Booth Tarkington's The Magnificent Ambersons. His musical, The Allen Street Yiddish Theatre Palace Presents: Cinderesther has received grants from the Minnesota Regional Arts Council and Brin Jewish Arts Endowment and his award-winning play, Ten Minutes 'til Christmas is being performed in many cities across North America. He has adapted novels by Newbery Award–winning authors James Lincoln Collier and Lloyd Alexander for the stage and has served on the faculties of William Patterson University and Regional Center for the Arts High School. Brian is an alumnus of the Minnesota Conservatory of Performing Arts, the National Shakespeare Conservatory, the Lehman Engel/BMI Workshop and the 78th Street Theatre Lab. He is a member of BMI, the Playwrights' Center, and the Dramatists Guild.
William Makepeace Thackeray’s immoral, immortal heroine Becky Sharp finds herself transplanted from London in the Napoleonic Era to New York City in the Vietnam Era in a freely adapted and updated dramatization of the novel Vanity Fair. From the grounds of a convent school in 1965 to the hot seat of a talk show in 1985, Becky’s amorous adventures are played out over two turbulent decades of American history as she parties her way through sex, drugs, Rock ‘n Roll, a husband or two, and countless lovers in her quest for wealth, power and social position (and maybe, just maybe love). Becky’s cunning and guile are contrasted by the honesty, integrity and innocence of her friend Amelia Sedley whom though born into a life of privilege, has no use for the empty values instilled in her Park Avenue upbringing. The fortunes of both women rise and fall with the hemlines as they both struggle and ultimately triumph in their own ways; and eventually our heroine, the lovely Miss Sharp takes her place among New York’s wealthy, famous and elite.
Could Shakespeare have envisioned our modern world where the taverns and inns of his time would give way to restaurants, where obsessed chefs would live through and create drama rivaling his greatest tragedies and histories? Were he writing today, might he find inspiration from power-mad culinarians fighting for the right to wear the toque and control the kitchen just as kings and queens fought for crown and country in his day? In Stirring the Plot (or The Tragedy of Chef III), the daily grind of restaurant life takes on an Elizabethan heft as rival factions are in an all-out war attempting to gain control of a once-grand restaurant that is now at death's door. Plotting, counter-plotting and endless backstabbing and mayhem play out in the battlefield of the kitchen and dining room as the dramatis personae sling hash and fling verbal venom at each other in rhyming iambic pentameter amidst flagons of alcohol and more drugs than an apothecary could ever fathom. Great men will fall. Weak men will falter. And one young man will find that he was born to greatness when he is transformed by the love of a woman who has disguised herself as a man to survive the sexist and often dangerous domain of the kitchen. Hundreds of years have passed since the time of Shakespeare, but perhaps he would not be surprised by the tempest of the modern restaurant. His plays continue to teach us that one could blend comedy, tragedy, history, romance and oh so many problems in a stew where art, ego, love, ambition, passion and danger are simmering.
In this re-imagining of Moliere's The Misanthrope, a group of elite Gay men in late Twentieth-Century Manhattan are like the froo-froo dogs that are leashed on the sidewalks of Chelsea -- they are pretty and polished and pampered, yet can easily regress to wild animals as they bitch and snap at each others' well-heeled heels. At a gathering in the loft of a dashing and handsome Broadway star who is Top Dog in their circle, many suitors jockey for pack position with an eye fixed on his bedroom door. But can they survive the acid tongue of the star's one true love; a vicious critic who is frustrated with life, the theatre, and his relationship with a man who is committed to love but avoids commitment?
Somewhere, far from the cold and cruel big city, there is a charming village called Holly Garland Corners. There, impossibly beautiful women operate factories specializing in artisanal Christmas goods. Well, at least when they are not too busy attending local Christmas pageants, decking the halls and meandering through the festive, yet quaint and quiet streets while nursing a warm drink and smiling at every friend and neighbor passing by. Yet, it seems that this will be a lonely Christmas for one well-dressed heroine. At least until an eligible bachelor executive sweeps in three days before the holiday with the intention of closing down her beloved family business and ruining Christmas forever! Can she find a way to stop him, even as they fall in love during a whirlwind of snowman construction, cookie decorating and a tree lighting occurring on every other block? Meanwhile, a local baker finds herself entangled with her long-lost high school boyfriend who is now a famous country singer. And throw in a mysterious old man with a white beard who seems to have an affinity for reindeer, a man in town who may be a prince, a deployed soldier who must return home in time for a holiday reunion and...oh, you know how it goes. Somehow, all of it will end with a kiss and an engagement on Christmas Eve, under the moonlight, just as the snow begins to fall on a village that seems to be made of gingerbread.
This new musical spoofs the sweet and sentimental Made-for-TV Christmas movies that are a “hallmark” of the holiday season. With no commercials and a good dose of Broadway song and dance. And tinsel. A lot of tinsel.
The Allen Street Yiddish Theatre Palace Presents: Cinderesther is a new musical comedy that celebrates the lives, struggles and triumphs of the large numbers of Jewish immigrants that landed in America and settled in the difficult, crowded, impoverished and often dangerous streets of New York City's Lower East Side. Strangers in a strange land, the Jewish people found new opportunities and freedoms; and out of poverty they emerged triumphant as writers, musicians, and labor leaders, and all but created the garment industry in the span of a generation.
The music includes the sounds of classic Klezmer, but also evokes the sounds of Tin Pan Alley, as the music of Jewish songwriters (such as Irving Berlin) would fill the streets of New York and eventually take the world by storm. And as the story unfolds, the sounds of Jazz start to mix in with the Klezmer… setting the stage for how composers such as Gershwin would use their Jewish heritage to put their own spin on a new kind of American music.
A two-part theatrical epic. CHILDREN OF AGAMEMNON combines Euripides' IPHIGENIA AT AULIS, ELECTRA, ORESTES and IPHIGENIA AT TAURIS into a single narrative. Following the House of Atreus before, during and after the Trojan War; the play explores how an act of infidelity sets events in motion afflicting a family with violence, abuse and vengeance during a time of great political strife, war and social upheaval. Actions of one generation affects the other for the worse and violence begets violence in a seemingly endless cycle. And though the family is born to royalty, wealth and prestige, the Gods are always present and more than willing to remind them they still are all-too mortal and at their mercy.
This English adaptation of Euripides is in rhymed verse to create an approximation of the rhythms and poetry of the original Greek text.
Rostand's hero Cyrano de Bergerac speaks of affinity for the art of the verse play in his dialogue, and that is the dramatic form the playwright used to make him immortal on the stage. This unabridged translation honors Rostand's intent by rendering the dialogue entirely in rhymed couplets, in an homage to the original play's poetic style and heightened language.
Don Juan's sexual conquests have gained him an infamous reputation all over Europe. When the Devil himself begins to drag him to Hell, Don Juan makes a bargain: In exchange for another ten years of life, he will commit to doing the Devil's dark work himself by bedding as many women as possible and leaving them wanting and devastated.
A decade later, the Devil catches up with Don Juan in Venice. Through a dizzying melange of puppetry, riddles and mysterious women clad in masks and cloaks, the Devil shows Don Juan that though he believed he was a master at playing romantic and sexual games, in truth he was but a plaything. This translation of one of Rostand's final works is, like the French original, written completely in rhymed couplets.
In a farmyard that seems to have much in common with La Belle Époque Paris, there resides a collection of animals who seem to have much in common with the denizens of Parisian society. The busy hens lead the social pecking order, but it is the noble rooster Chantecler who rules the roost. Each morning his glorious song fills their world and inspires the sun to rise, a fact of which he is most certain. While he is the hero of the fashionably dressed residents who seem to spend the bulk of their day in cafes and soirees, he is despised by the creatures who live by the night, a criminal underworld of the farm led by a homicidal cat. The treacherous cat believes the demise of the rooster will also be the end of daylight, thus allowing her and her cohorts to thrive in a world of darkness. Against this backdrop of day and night a female pheasant arrives from the countryside and scandalizes all society with her decision to defy the constructs of gender and take on the bold and colorful plumage of the male of her species. She will enchant the bold Chantecler, and through their romance she will change him and his perception of the world forever. As in Rostand's most-famous work, Cyrano de Bergerac, the tale is spun through swashbuckling swordplay, poetry, bravado and music.
A young Jewish housewife breezes through the cultural upheaval of the 1970s and luxuriates in the materialistic 1980s fueled by her outrageous behavior and a personality disorder that is not cured by the popular self-help books she reads. Trapped in a marriage to a Jewish man she does not love or even like, she repeatedly finds herself tempted by an endless parade of WASPs and Catholics from up and down the social strata in the wilds of the suburbs. Along for the ride are her three children who bounce with her from marriage to marriage as they experience a most atypical upbringing. As the world and decades change she shatters all stereotypes of a devoted Jewish mother and her children as well. But she also gives them the most taboo Hanukkah gift imaginable: Christmas.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Booth Tarkington, The Magnificent Ambersons is set in a Midwestern American town that is fast becoming a sprawling city due to industrialization and the rise of the automobile. In the midst of this we meet the wealthy and socially prominent Amberson family. They will find that their influence fades in a new world as romantic entanglements that cross generations seal their fates as their fortunes change.
Like No People I Know follows the misadventures of a histrionic, theatrical wannabe diva named Ronnie Stangl whose dreams of Show Biz success have only come to fruition by directing children's theatre. Her sexless, loveless marriage to an actor is falling apart as she becomes overly focused on and eventually obsessed with a young male actor in her company. She leads him astray in both life and on the stage and eventually destroys him as she moves on to other projects and ambitions. This is all seen through the wise eyes of her longtime stage manager who does her best to intervene, but cannot prevent the inevitable conclusion.
Why spend two hours and slog through dozens of perfume and jewelry commercials when one can get that romantic Yuletide story fix that is a "hallmark" of the season in a mere ten minutes? In a picturesque village we meet a man and a woman who fight insurmountable odds and conflicts of personality, class and income to fall in love and get engaged ten minutes after meeting during the Christmas season.
The Jurgens File recounts true events that happened in Minnesota in the mid-Twentieth Century. A baby boy was born to a sixteen year-old ward of the state who was forced to give him up for adoption; twenty years later she sought to contact what she believed would be her adult son only to discover he died at the age of three under suspicious circumstances. The story moves backwards and forwards in time viewing the events that led up to his death and the eventual cover-up as recounted by family members, neighbors, police officers, social workers and other members of the quiet, suburban community where the action takes place. While some characters are composites and some of the events are compressed in the interest of time, the story depicted is true and is taken directly from court documents and the extensive media coverage that followed the case.
Monsieur Jourdain is a middle class merchant who foolishly believes he can break into the upper echelon of society. Desperate to elevate himself and his station, it seems there is no humiliation too great as he tries to better himself via tutelage from a variety of instructors who are more than happy to relieve him of his money. He also finds himself an easy mark for a penniless nobleman who uses him to fund an extravagant lifestyle. Monsieur Jourdain's long-suffering wife and daughter find themselves caught up in one of his latest schemes, involving a poorly planned affair, several sets of unhappy lovers and a full orchestra and ballet company invading the household. It will fall to the clever servants to find sense in the madness and set things right.
Two pairs of star-crossed lovers are faced with a duo of wealthy, buffoonish businessmen determined to guarantee they will not get their happy ending. Enter Scapin, a servant with a talent for schemes and scams who is always more than willing to put one over on the upper classes. For Scapin no lie is too outrageous and no plot is too outlandish when it comes to assuring that true love finds its way.
Through a dizzying blend of emotional blackmail, physical assault, disguises and subterfuge, Scapin will utilize his enormous talents to assure that all is well before the final curtain comes down. This adaptation of Moliere's classic is in rhymed verse.
The obscenely crude Argan is a hopeless hypochondriac who has seen his considerable wealth drained by an endless parade of charlatan doctors and their endless supplies of “miracle” cures. As his wicked second wife waits impatiently for him to die, he hatches a plot to marry off his eldest daughter to an obnoxious young doctor to assure he will always have free medical care available.
As doors slam, and disguises and deceit thicken the plot, it seems only Argan's clever maid Toinette and his wise brother Beralde may save the day. This English adaptation of Moliere's classic is in rhymed verse and includes several fully-scored musical interludes.
Medea has abandoned her family and homeland of Colchis for the love of the great hero Jason, and her loyalty, cunning and talents in witchcraft have repeatedly rescued him. Now after bearing him two fine sons and settling in Corinth; Jason announces that Medea is to be cast aside, freeing him to marry royalty. Now finding herself not only abandoned, but banished from Corinth and driven beyond madness, Medea commits an unspeakable act of vengeance against her former husband.
This English adaptation of Euripides' classic play is in rhymed verse to create a close approximation of the rhythms and poetry of the original Greek text.
King Pentheus of Thebes bears a legacy of denial from his aristocratic family regarding the circumstances of the birth of his cousin, Dionysus. Dionysus comes to Thebes accompanied by the Bacchae, a group of passionate women under his influence. But are these women caught up in a cult of personality, or is the long-denied divinity of Dionysus what truly has them caught in his spell?
The cousins come head-to-head in a clash that will settle scores from generations past, and will lead the family to unimaginable violence. This English adaptation of Euripides' classic play is in rhymed verse to create a close approximation of the rhythms and poetry of the original Greek text.
As the fires that burned Troy smolder, the once-proud and regal Queen Hecuba finds herself homeless, widowed and enslaved by the Greek conquerors. In the hours before she is to sail to Greece in chains she discovers that two of her surviving children will pay the blood debt of war with their lives.
Left with nothing to lose but a hopeless life that is no longer her own, she commits an act of vengeance that is shocking in its violence, yet asserts all that is left of her humanity. This English adaptation of Euripides' classic play is in rhymed verse to create a close approximation of the rhythms and poetry of the original Greek text.
On the eve of The Trojan War the Greek leader Agamemnon is at the port of Aulis and finds himself at odds with the goddess Artemis. She is holding back the wind that will allow his army to sail to Troy, and demands the sacrifice of his beloved daughter Iphigenia to release it. As tensions mount Agamemnon finds himself not only confronted by an impatient army, but also with with his wife Clytemnestra and brother Menelaus as he considers his duties to his county and family.
As his actions lead to sacrifice and sacrifices, he sets his family on a bloody, violent path that will carry on through generations. This English adaptation of Euripides' classic play is in rhymed verse to create an approximation of the rhythms and poetry of the original Greek text.
Following his triumphs during The Trojan War the great Greek warrior Agamemnon is slaughtered by his crafty wife Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus. Many years later his surviving children Orestes and Electra are living far from the royal halls that are rightfully theirs and are long separated; as Orestes has escaped and lives in exile while Electra languishes in an arranged marriage to a peasant.
Upon a reunion where the brother and sister face each other for the first time as adults they decide to execute a plan that will demonstrate to Clytemnestra and Aegisthus that the example that was set to them as children was not forgotten. This English adaptation of Euripides' classic play is in rhymed verse to create a close approximation of the rhythms and poetry of the original Greek text.
After avenging his father Agamemnon's death by slaughtering his mother Clytemnestra, Orestes finds himself tormented by the Furies and pursued by the Argive people who seek to put him to death along with his sister Electra. Seemingly ignored by the god Apollo whose oracle led Orestes to matricide; his only hope lies with his father's brother Menelaus who is recently reunited with his wife, the infamous Helen.
As Menelaus refuses to intervene, Orestes and Electra find themselves once again pushed into a desperate, violent act. This English adaptation of Euripides' classic play is in rhymed verse to create a close approximation of the rhythms and poetry of the original Greek text.
Many years after the events that led to the destruction of Agamemnon's family during the Trojan War his daughter Iphigenia is long thought dead but lives among the Taurians as a priestess in the Temple of Artemis. Her duty to prepare any foreigner who arrives in Tauris for ritual sacrifice introduces her to a young Greek prisoner who she will soon discover is none other than her long-lost brother Orestes.
Though they have been separated for many years and are far from home, the siblings devise a plan to ensure a safe escape and put an end to the curse of bloodshed that has plagued the House of Atreus for generations. This English adaptation of Euripides is in rhymed verse to create an approximation of the rhythms and poetry of the original Greek text.
The God Apollo has tricked the Fates into sparing King Admetus when it is his time to die. Yet in exchange, Admetus has to find another mortal to take his place in the Underworld. After his aged parents refuse to step in to save him it is Admetus' noble wife Alcestis who agrees to give her life, hoping to spare her children from growing up without a father. She dies leaving her husband alive, yet alone.
Into this royal house in mourning stumbles the hero Heracles who is oblivious to the sad event that has come to pass. He will use his remarkable strength to assure that the Fates will not have the final word. This English adaptation of Euripides' classic play is in rhymed verse to create a close approximation of the rhythms and poetry of the original Greek text.
In the aftermath of the Trojan War, the royal-born Andromache finds herself in far-off Greece enslaved by the family of the man who killed her husband and forced her into the role of concubine. She is not only forced to share her bed with her captor, Neoptolemus, but also bears him a son. This draws the ire of his wife Hermione, who is convinced that Andromache's presence and actions have kept her husband far from their marriage bed and left her childless.
When Neoptolemus is away, Hermione sees an opportunity to rid herself of a romantic rival and her husband's illegitimate son. This sets off events that will result in violence and further loss. This English adaptation of Euripides' classic play is in rhymed verse to create a close approximation of the rhythms and poetry of the original Greek text.
As Odysseus begins to journey home to Ithaca following the Trojan War, he and his companions are blown off course to the mysterious Mount Etna. There, they find a tribe of displaced satyrs who are enslaved by the violent and dangerous Cyclops. Odysseus will need the cunning and bravery that served him so effectively during the war to avoid being served himself to the hungry Cyclops.
Cyclops, the only satyr play to survive antiquity, allows the master tragedian Euripides to display his skills at writing comedy in this broad and bawdy short play adapted from a sequence in Homer's The Odyssey. This translation is crafted in rhymed verse to create a close approximation of the rhythms and poetry of the original Greek text.
Brian's translation of Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, which is the first ever completed in the English language that is unabridged and written completely in rhymed couplets, has been published by Broadway Play Publishing:
Brian's musical Mark the Halls: A Made-for-TV Christmas Movie Musical (written with Steven Kennedy) was a finalist for the Robert J. Pickering / J.R. Colbeck Award for Playwriting Excellence.