Anthony Burgess’ ‘A Clockwork Orange’ as a chilling musical

Jacob Coakley

The Details

A Clockwork Orange
January 25-27, February 1-3 and 8-9; 8 p.m.; February 10, 2 p.m.; $20
Onyx Theatre, 732-7225

Anyone who's familiar with A Clockwork Orange knows that music is an integral part of the story. But still, a musical? Well, what if Anthony Burgess himself wrote it?

“Burgess took some of the most beautiful music ever made in Beethoven—which is, of course, Alex’s favorite—and put lyrics over them for his play,” says Brandon McClenahan, director of Burgess’ Clockwork: A Play With Music at the Onyx Theatre, a joint production by his QuadraNine company and Off-Strip Productions.

Ultra-violence also plays a big role in the story, which also poses a problem for a stage version. “Violence and nudity—are we going to do it, or not do it?” McClenahan asks. “Are we going to stylize it? How are we going to approach it? One of the best things in theater is that you’re in the room with a live audience, and you have to appreciate that.” He won’t give too much away about how his cast handles it, but the show is recommended for mature audiences only, and directing it lent him a greater appreciation for the inclusion of music.

“When stakes reach a certain height, the only way they can go higher is through music,” he says. “The only way you can live the emotion is to sing it. It’s too much for your normal everyday voice to feel.”


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