ALBANY — “Some People Hear Thunder” is a powerful, uplifting love story involving a young reporter, his true love in America, and Armenians fighting for dignity and survival in the face of brutality.
The world premiere of “Some People Hear Thunder” is brought to Albany by longtime Capital District and Broadway performer Kevin McGuire, who directs and stars.
Thunder is set in two locations, New York City and southern Turkey, at a time just prior to the breakout of World War I. Co-playwrights Gerson Smoger and Jeffrey Sorkin unfold the events of the Armenian Genocide, a topic Smoger first involved himself with while working in Geneva at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
“As a result, Gerson is uniquely invested in this topic and he uses his deep knowledge to make a complex story very clear and remarkably musical,” said McGuire, who has been involved in every aspect of “Some People Hear Thunder,” from an initial San Francisco workshop performance in 2015 to the seven weeks of New York casting leading to this production.
McGuire, who previously starred at the REP in Man of La Mancha, Red, A Christmas Carol, Other Desert Cities and Hamlet (which he also directed), met Smoger — a noted environmental and human rights lawyer — nearly 30 years ago, and their decades-long artistic discussion helped result in the creation of “Thunder.”
“The play speaks to repression, it speaks directly to the global refugee crisis, it speaks to lost peoples looking for a home. It is very pertinent to our time.”
Remarkably, the play also has local roots—some of those fleeing the contested region early in the century arrived in Albany, Troy and the surrounding areas, creating a tightly-knit Armenian community.
McGuire plays Zoravar Der Kaloustian in “Some People Hear Thunder,” while Joan Hess (Broadway—Mamma Mia!, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Kiss Me Kate, Crazy for You—and TV—the “leggy blonde” in HBO’s Flight of the Conchords) plays his wife, Angelique.
Newsies tour star Alex Prakken plays reporter Jason Karras. Albany native Rachel Rhodes-Devey, who recently appeared at Proctors in the national tour of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas, is Karras’ love interest, Carole Chapin, who relates the story.
Opening night is Friday, May 5 and runs through to Sunday, May 21.
Tickets range from $25 to $55. Children 17 and under: $15 all shows. For tickets and information, call Tickets By Proctors, (518) 445-SHOW (7469) or visit capitalrep.org.
Albany native Rachel Rhodes-Devey returns home to star in the Capital Repretory Theatre production of “Some People Hear Thunder.” She’s a self-professed, “badass,” with a stage presense critics have learned to adore.
On being a “badass”
“[Laughs.] Oh, no. Oh, gosh. I think I probably put that as my description [on Instagram] many years ago, just trying to be cool. But, you know, as artists and activists in this time, we are badasses. And, I think we are badasses for trying to put on this show.”
“Not a Day Goes By”
“That was one of my favorite roles to do. That was a very interesting role because that is the first time you see my character, Beth, in that show. It’s not until about an hour into the show, and it’s at the divorce court, on the steps where she’s confronting her soon-to-be ex-husband. [I had] to come into the middle of the show, and in an extremely emotionally raw state, and convey some very uncomfortable feelings. That is a big part of what we do. That is what makes us engage emotionally with audiences. So, that was a big role for me to tackle, and definitely one of my favorites, to date.”
Today’s world versus that of “Thunder”
“To be perfectly honest, like many people, I knew very little of the Armenian Genocide before I got this audition. Once I started researching it, I was really shocked that I never heard of this, that it hadn’t been part of my history education. And, I was able to realize how important this [musical] is to the Armenian people that this is something that is recognized. How much it really does relate to many things that we are dealing with today. Certainly with the way we treat refugees. Certainly with the rise in nationalism, both in our country and in many places that we’re seeing abroad. And, in how we treat people who are different than us. So, I think this is an important subject, because so much has been left unsaid. But, also, it’s a good time for self-reflection for us as a nation, and as a people.