What happens when an orphaned boy is forced to live with his crotchety aunt in a presumably haunted New England lighthouse is the theme of “Whisper House,” a world premiere musical by songwriter Duncan Sheik and writer/musician Kyle Jarrow.
“Whisper House,” directed by Peter Askin, runs through Feb. 21 in The Old Globe Theater.
Set in 1942, “Whisper House” has World War II in full swing. Eleven-year-old Christopher (Eric Brent Zutty), who has suffered losing his father to the war and his distraught mother to an institution, must now live with his Aunt Lilly (Mare Winningham), a lighthouse keeper.
Music, performed by ghosts (David Poe and Holly Brook), is filtered throughout the heart-warming story as Christopher imagines he’s hearing strange noises in the lighthouse. It’s when Christopher begins to hear the strange music that his fears intensify.
Sheik and Jarrow united to collaborate on “Whisper House.” Sheik, a composer and arranger who made his debut in 1996 with the hit “Barely Breathing,” has since seen his work appear in film and on the Broadway stage. He gained critical acclaim and received two Tony Awards for “Spring Awakening.”
Jarrow is an OBIE-winning (“A Very Merry Unauthorized Children’s Scientology Pageant”) writer and musician who writes for stage, film and television, and performs with the bands The Fabulous Entourage and Super Mirage.
Jarrow said he knew he wanted to do a ghost story set in an evocative location with elements audiences can relate to today.
“Fear is what ties this story together ... what it’s like for a child to explore an isolated spooky place, to understand war and tragedy, and process those kinds of things,” he said. "... Our country is living in fear at the moment with what’s going on in our world, and we have to learn how to process that without those fears stopping us from living.”
Each of the 10 songs Sheik featured on the album, “Whisper House,” tie into the story of Christopher’s grief and his aunt’s spinster yearnings. “For this story, the music is very important,” Jarrow said. “One thing that’s great about music in a theater piece is it can be evocative of the theme in a way text alone can never be. You can get something out of three notes in a song, especially with Duncan, whose beautiful music will have an incredible impact on an audience.”
Sheik added, “In working with Kyle, I think we have produced a wonderful theater piece audiences will really enjoy, and David and Holly do an amazing job singing these songs.”
- When: Through Feb. 21
- Where: The Old Globe Theater, Balboa Park
- Tickets: $55-$105
- Contact: (619) 23-GLOBE, www.TheOldGlobe.org