Few musical artists in history started out as child prodigies, created new musical genres, and pioneered the use of unique instruments. But for Stevie Wonder, these are only some of the highlights of his legendary career.
This Season, FST celebrates the songbook and impact of the musical innovator and his timeless music in A Place in the Sun: A Tribute To Stevie Wonder.
“He’s been cranking out music for over 60 years,” said Lead Developer, Jason Cannon. “Stevie Wonder’s music is both iconic and ubiquitous. As I was digging into this show, I realized just how many hits there were. And not just hits, but songs that are woven into our lives and cultural identity.”
Featuring songs you know and love, like “Superstition,” “Isn’t She Lovely?” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You,” this original music revue brings audiences the heart of Wonder’s anthology.
While most FST Cabarets include songs by a wide variety of artists and explore music through the lens of a specific decade or genre, A Place in the Sun dedicates 90 minutes of music to celebrate just one artistic legend. Still, the writers had a hard time paring the set list down.
“As usual, we could have made this a three-hour Cabaret,” said show developer Sarah Durham. “It may seem like writing a biopic-type show would be easier, but it presents its own unique challenges. We run the risk of doing a full-length show where every song sounds the same. That’s why we present Cabarets about artists with broad appeal who were able to evolve and change their sound over time.”
In addition to songs that Stevie Wonder wrote and recorded himself, you’ll also hear tracks he wrote that were made famous by other artists like “Tears of a Clown” by Smokey Robinson and The Miracles.
Wonder also collaborated with artists like Paul McCartney, Elton John, and Gladys Knight, releasing famous songs like “Ebony and Ivory” and “That’s What Friends Are For.”
And Stevie Wonder’s impact goes beyond just music. An engaged humanitarian, Wonder won the Presidential Medal of Freedom for donating to and uplifting several charities and global causes. And these values filter back into his music.
“What really stands out to me about Stevie Wonder is that he addressed tons of social issues in his music,” said Producing Artistic Director Richard Hopkins. “He does it in a way that both entertains and makes people feel positive – he focuses on love over hate.”
Bringing this musical tribute to life are five performers, all of whom will play their own instruments.
For cast member Ben Senneff, Stevie’s music represents pure joy. “Even in his more melancholy songs, there’s still this overwhelming sense of joy and playfulness,” said Senneff. “His passion for crafting meaningful melodies and exploring new and interesting directions through harmony and rhythm never fails to raise my serotonin levels.”
Fellow performer Sean Holland II agrees. “Stevie Wonder’s musical impact has shown me the breadth and depth of the human ability to love boundlessly,” said Holland. “I think he has a unique ability to bring people together from all walks of life and help everyone to see themselves as global citizens.”
A Place in the Sun – A Tribute to Stevie Wonder begins playing in FST’s Goldstein Cabaret November 16. For tickets and more information, click here.
Header Picture: Sean Holland II, Ben Senneff, Joshua Pyram, and Hannah Taylor. Photo by John Jones.