Wabash to Stage Tony Award-winning Side Man

by Karen Handley

February 8, 2007

Get directions to Wabash College Fine Arts Center

The Wabash College Theater Department will present the Tony Award-winning Broadway play, Side Man by Warren Leight, which will run from February 21-24 in Ball Theater in the Fine Arts Center. The performances are scheduled for 8 p.m. each evening.

Winner of the 1999 Tony Award for Best Play, Side Man spans three decades in the life of a Manhattan musician. Playwright Warren Leight, whose father was a sideman, incisively captures the pulse and climate of the New York jazz scene, with crisp dialogue and clearly drawn characters. It is a tender, deeply personal memory play about the turmoil of a jazz trumpeter’s family as his career crumbles at the dawn of the age of rock-and-roll.

Set in 1953 and traveling to 1985, this funny and poignant memory play unfolds through the eyes of Clifford, the only son of Gene, a jazz trumpet player, and Terry, an alcoholic mother. Alternating between their New York City apartment and a smoke-filled music club, Clifford narrates the story of his broken family and the decline of jazz as popular entertainment. Clifford recalls the key moments in his life, such as the day when he, fresh out of college, picked up his first unemployment check and was congratulated by Gene and his band mates. Gene’s music career on the big band circuit ultimately crumbles with the advent of Elvis and rock-n-roll. Terry begs him to get a nine-to-five job to support the family, but Gene refuses to enter the "straight world" of regular paychecks, mortgages and security. For Gene, who knows jazz better than his own son, music is not just a job; it’s his life.

"Side Man is an elegy for two things—a lost world and a lost love. When the two notes sound together in harmony, it is moving and graceful…Side Man evokes their loss with sweet, but never sentimental, poignancy." N.Y. Daily News.

The cast list includes Wabash students: Braden Pemberton as Clifford; Matt Goodrich as Gene; Spencer Elliott as Al; Patrick McAlister as Ziggy; and Sterling Carter as Jonesy. Guest actress Jenny McKnight stars as Terry and Patsy will be played by Anna Ardizzone.

Michael Abbott is the director. Production stage manager is Cody Grady and assistant stage director is Anthony Morton.

Seating for Theater productions will be by general admission, though free tickets are required for Theater productions.

For tickets contact the Fine Arts Center Box Office by email at boxoffice@wabash.edu; phone: 765-361-6411. Box Office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 12 noon and 1:30 to 4 p.m. The box office will open 90 minutes before curtain time. Tickets not claimed at the Box Office 10 minutes prior to curtain will be released to the general public.

The final theater production for the 2006-2007 season will be Two Gentlemen of Verona on April 18-21.


For more information see:

Wabash College • 301 W Wabash Ave • Crawfordsville, IN 47933 • 765.361.6100