A prequel to the events in the critically acclaimed operetta Accidental Nostalgia, Must Don’t Whip ‘Um is the story of one Cameron Seymour (the same Cameron Seymour whose identity was stolen by the narrator in Accidental Nostalgia): an obscure and almost totally forgotten pop star from the 1970′s whose financial, artistic, personal and political failures have brought her to the verge of a nervous breakdown, resulting in her desire to quit the entertainment industry and escape from the United States, in order to join a Sufi brotherhood in Morocco. Must Don’t Whip ‘Um uses as its main conceit Ms. Seymour’s “farewell concert” – a celebratory, ecstatic ‘last waltz’ during which she mysteriously disappears – presented by Ms. Seymour’s daughter, who is attempting to create a documentary about her mother’s disappearance.
Performed by Cynthia Hopkins, Jim Findlay, Jeff Sugg, Susan Oetgen and Gloria Deluxe (Ben Holmes trumpet; Kristin Mueller drums; Curtis Hasselbring trombone; Josh Stark bass; Philippa Thompson violin, guitar, musical saw, percussion; Karen Waltuch viola, percussion)
Set, Video, and Production Design Jim Findlay and Jeff Sugg
Premiered January 2007
Walker Art Center (Minneapolis, MN)
“a triumph of disciplined thinking, narrative fluidity and musical accomplishment.”
– Gina Bellafante, The New York Times
Must Don’t Whip ‘Um was produced by Arts at St. Ann’s in association with Accinosco, with commissioning support from the Walker Art Center (Minneapolis), the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival through the generous support of Ted and Stevie Wolf, and On The Boards (Seattle). The creation of Must Don’t Whip ‘Um was also supported by funding from the Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, the Jonathan Larson Performing Arts Foundation, the New York State Music Fund, and the APAP Ensemble Theatre Collaborations Grant (a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation Theatre Initiative); and residencies provided by Yaddo, the Swarthmore Project in Theater, The Field, Chashama, MASS MoCA, Two Trees Management, the Walker Art Center, and St. Ann’s Warehouse.