Off-Broadway Adding Machine gets UK premiere at Finborough Theatre

04 Jul
Posted in: Theatre News
Author: Staff
Adding Machine receives its UK premiere at the Finborough Theatre

Ever feel like killing your boss? Worried about being replaced by a machine? The hilariously dark anti-musical ADDING MACHINE, a 2008 Off-Broadway hit, may have the answers. It receives its UK premiere at London's Finborough Theatre in September...

The UK premiere of the hit Off Broadway musical ADDING MACHINE: A MUSICAL, composed by Joshua Schmidt, with libretto by Jason Loewith and Joshua Schmidt, and based on the classic play by Elmer Rice, opens at the Finborough Theatre on Wednesday, 28 September 2016 (Press Nights: Friday 30 September and Saturday 1 October at 7.30pm), running until 22 October.

Ever feel like killing your boss?

After 25 long years spent adding figures in the same soul-crushing job, Mr Zero suddenly finds himself replaced by a machine. For the first time in his life, Zero takes his destiny into his own hands. The consequences set him on a path through this world and beyond, offering him one last chance for love, life and redemption. Take an extraordinary journey with Mr Zero in this stirring and hilariously dark anti-musical as it asks us to consider the true price of a human soul, told through Joshua Schmidt’s haunting score, inspired by gospel, opera, jazz and rock and roll. 

The UK premiere of Jason Loewith and Joshua Schmidt’s multi-award winning musical adaptation of Elmer Rice’s groundbreaking 1923 play is directed by Josh Seymour, named Best Director at the 2016 Off West End Theatre Awards for One Arm at Southwark Playhouse.

ADDING MACHINE: A MUSICAL won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Musical and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway Musical and Outstanding New Score.

Joshua Schmidt and Jason Loweith said:

"Astonishingly, the themes of Elmer Rice’s 1922 play seem never more relevant than the time we find ourselves living in now, especially with the recent events in the UK. In adapting his provocative play, we set out to unearth the siren songs of the disenfranchised. This is not music of “simple” folk; rather it is a rich tapestry of love, dark humour, complexity, heartfelt earnestness, insecurity and anger. Whether it's technological innovation or globalisation that leaves generations of people in the dust, we find it amazing how little those siren songs have changed in almost a century, how frequently they turn into the shrill cries of the racist and the nativist, and how their emotional reach spans so many borders. Diving into this material has made us both much more empathetic to the plight of those kicked to the curb, and more aware of the warning signs in their anger. And it has ultimately reinforced our belief that in the end, we are all individually responsible for our ability to overcome adversity in this ever-changing, constantly evolving world. It seems now is a fascinating moment for the musical to make its premiere in London.”

Creative bios 

Composer/Co-Author Joshua Schmidt’s Off-Broadway work includes A Minister’s Wife (Lincoln Center), Adding Machine: A Musical (Minetta Lane Theatre), Whida Peru (59E59 Theaters) and Gift of the Magi (American Players Theatre, WI). His incidental scores include When the Rain Stops Falling (Lincoln Center) and Fifty Words (MCC Theater). His work as Composer and Sound Designer includes – on Broadway – Therese Raquin (Roundabout Theatre and Studio 54), House of Blue Leaves (Walter Kerr Theatre), Brighton Beach Memoirs (Nederlander Theatre) and – Off Broadway – Dinner With Friends (Roundabout Theatre), Model Apartment (Primary Stages), 3 Kinds of Exile (Atlantic Theatre), Water by the Spoonful (Second Stage) and Crime and Punishment (59E59 Theaters). Work in Chicago includes Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Goodman Theater, Writers’ Theatre (Associate Artist), Northlight Theatre, Next Theatre Company and Seanachai Theatre Company. Regional work includes over 150 productions at venues across North America including Stratford Shakespeare Festival (Ontario, Canada), Philadelphia Theatre Company, The Kennedy Center, Ford's Theatre (Washington DC), Seattle Repertory Theatre, Alley Theatre (Resident Artist – Houston, Texas), Arizona Theater Company, Cleveland Playhouse, Kansas City Rep, South Coast Repertory (California), Delaware Theatre Company, 14 Seasons at American Players Theatre (Spring Green, Wisconsin) and Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Commissions include Metropolitan Opera, RKO, CraneKahn, Playwrights Horizons, Sloan/MCT and Signature (VA) Writers Theatre. Recordings include Adding Machine: A Musical and A Minister’s Wife (both released on PS Classics and available on iTunes and Amazon). Schmidt has worked as an Associate Artist at venues including Alley Theatre in Houston and Writers Theatre in Glencoe. Teaching includes lecturings at Harvard, Suffolk, Mississippi-Oxford, Illinois Urbana/Champaign, Wisconsin-Madison and Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is a member of ASCAP and has won numerous awards and recognition including Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, Jeff, ASCAP, NEA/TCG, Prague Quadrennial 2007 and Sundance Theatre Lab UCross 2012. 

Co-Librettist Jason Loewith won Lucille Lortel, Outer Critics Circle and Jeff awards for Best New Musical for Adding Machine: A Musical, which he co-wrote with composer Joshua Schmidt. His other writing includes Big Nate: The Musical and The Director's Voice, Volume 2 (published by TCG). Since 2013, he has been Artistic Director of the Olney Theatre Center outside Washington DC where he has directed the Rolling World Premiere of Steven Dietz’s Rancho Mirage as well as Marjorie Prime, Carousel, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (Helen Hayes Award nomination for Best Direction) and Avenue Q. Recent regional work as a director includes the world premiere of Broke (Alliance Theatre, Atlanta), Time Stands Still (Everyman, Baltimore), Crime and Punishment and Working It Out (Center Stage, Baltimore), Adding Machine: A Musical (Studio Theatre, Washington DC) and a dozen plays for Chicago’s Next Theatre Company where he served as Artistic Director from 2002-08, including the Chicago area premieres of Dying City, Defiance, The Long Christmas Ride Home and Fabulation. He conceived and directed the world premiere of The American Dream Songbook, wrote and directed the world premiere of War With the Newts and produced Chicago premieres by Caryl Churchill, Suzan-Lori Parks, Carson Kreitzer, Sam Shepard, Dael Orlandersmith and many more. He is a three-time grantee from the NEA for Artistic Excellence, a recipient of support from the Rockefeller MAP Fund and MacArthur’s International Connections Fund and a TCG New Generations Future Leaders grant. Before joining the team at Olney Theatre Center, Loewith proudly served four years as Executive Director of the National New Play Network and five years with Classic Stage Company Off-Broadway.  

Playwright Elmer Rice (1892-1967) was noted for his innovative and polemical plays, best known for Street Scene (1929), a starkly realistic tragedy set outside a New York City slum tenement building, which won a Pulitzer Prize and was adapted into a highly popular musical with lyrics by Langston Hughes and music by Kurt Weill. His other plays include On Trial (1914), The Adding Machine (1923), Counsellor-at-Law (1931), We, the People (1933) and Judgment Day (1934). Rice was active in the WPA Federal Theatre Project in the mid-1930s, also championed the American Civil Liberties Union and the cause of free speech and in the 1950s he was an opponent of U.S. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy. Rice also wrote several novels and an autobiography, Minority Report (1963).

Director Josh Seymour won an Off West End Theatre Award for Best Director for his production of One Arm (Southwark Playhouse). Other direction includes The Laramie Project (Curve Theatre), Loserville (Stafford Gatehouse), Les Miserables (Arts at Stowe), Sarah & Sarah (Waterloo East Theatre) and Four Dogs and a Bone (London Festival Fringe). As Resident Assistant Director at the Donmar Warehouse, Seymour worked on City of Angels, Privacy (both directed by Josie Rourke), Fathers and Sons (directed by Lyndsey Turner), My Night With Reg (directed by Rob Hastie, and was Associate Director for the West End transfer) and Versailles (directed by Peter Gill). Other Assistant Direction includes Candide (Menier Chocolate Factory), Our House (UK tour), Good Grief (Theatre Royal Bath and UK tour) and Sixty-Six Books (Bush Theatre). He was a finalist for the 2012 JMK Award.