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Bruce Hornsby's 'Sick' show


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Bruce Hornsby will give an exclusive solo concert Saturday in an intimate setting, the 640-seat Wells Theatre.  He'll be playing songs that later this month will become nightly fare for other musicians.

Hornsby has spent the past six years feeling his way around the Broadway musical form. New York producers invited him to create for the stage in 2005. A team evolved, a story emerged and Hornsby put his natural narrative impulse to work crafting songs.

The resulting musical, enigmatically titled "SCKBSTD" and featuring top Broadway talent, opens for previews Jan. 18 at the Wells Theatre. During the three-week Norfolk run, a four-piece band will play and characters in the musical will sing the show's 16 songs.

At about $650,000, the musical is costing roughly twice the usual for a Virginia Stage show. Managing director Keith Stava said Spiral Staircase is paying half the expenses.

"They see this as a developmental step for their eventual Broadway production," Stava said.  It's a big show," Stava said.

Through a season of six shows, the stage company averages six actors. "SCKBSTD," meant to suggest a vanity-plate spelling for "sick bastard, " has a cast of 14 plus the band. "There's also choreography and new music being written for the show, and audiovisual projections in addition to the usual scenery, costumes, light and sound," Stava said.Many of the designers and actors have won Tony Awards, he said. John Rando, the show's director, landed a Tony in 2002 for directing Broadway's "Urinetown: The Musical."

Robert Cuccioli, who earned a Tony nomination and other awards for originating the leading role in Broadway's late-'90s "Jekyll and Hyde," will play the title character, a mysterious stranger named Norman Rhodes.

Hornsby co-wrote the lyrics with his longtime collaborator Chip deMatteo.  Eight of the show's songs are on Hornsby's 2009 CD, "Levitate," including the musical's scene-setting opener, "In the Low Country"