THE ROAD TO QATAR!
(Book & Lyrics by Stephen Cole. Music David Krane)
World Premiere Production Lyric Stage, Irving, TX October 2009
Winner of Best New Play or Musical from the Dallas-Ft. Worth Drama Critics Forum
Off Broadway Production at the York Theatre Company Opened January 25, 2010
Selected to be part of the 1st Page to Stage Festival at the Landor Theatre in London February 16-17, 2013
Nominated for Best Musical in The Edinburgh International Festival...August 1-26, 2013
British, German, Scandanavian, Israeli rights handed by
Joseph Weinberger Ltd.
What happens when two American musical theatre writers are commissioned by the Emir of Qatar to create the first American musical to premiere in the Middle East? Five years ago, Stephen Cole & David Krane each received an email that read: "We want you write musical. How much?" Thus began a truly unbelievable journey that introduced the two 'short Jews' to an alien world of camels, 'safari' rides in the desert, and Middle Eastern theatrical producers. During the course of this madcap adventure, Stephen & David starred in their own personal Bob Hope-Bing Crosby 'road picture' that took them to Dubai, London, Bratislava, and ultimately to Qatar, where they presented an epic original musical for the Emir and 1000 of his closest friends. When they returned, they had no other choice but to write their story in the only way they knew how: AS A MUSICAL!! The names have been changed to protect the innocent...but the story is TOTALLY
To see more about the show that these two short Jews wrote Click to jump to
From Dubai to Qatar to Dallas to NYC to London..
Quotes from the 4 star reviews:
***** The Curtain Up Show
**** Broadway Baby "There's this lovely little sibling of a show here at the Fringe. Go see it!"
**** So So Gay "Should definitely be at the top of your list!"
**** West End Frame "If you're looking for an hour of pure escapism, The Road To Qatar is the show for you!"
Watch and listen to Stephen Cole & David Krane tell the true story of how it all happened..."it all began with an email" and sing the title song of The Road to Qatar!
James Beaman & Keith Gerchak perform "The Road to Qatr!"
The World Premiere at Lyric Stage in excerpts from the show!
Sarah Stiles (with Beaman & Gerchak) perform "Nazirah's In London"
Production photos from The Road to Qatar! (Edinburgh International Festival August 2013)
Production photos from The Road to Qatar! (Off Broadway 2011)
Photos from The Road to Qatar! Original Cast Recording Session
Production photos from The Road to Qatar! (Dallas 2009) and New York Readings
The Road to Qatar!
Sets and Costumes Designed by Michael Bottari and Ronald Case
The Road to Qatar! Opening Night NYC
The Road to Qatar! Landor Theatre, Page to Stage Festival London, February 2013
"Truman Capote invented the “non-fiction novel” with In Cold Blood. Stephen Cole and David Krane could be said to have invented the “non-fiction fictional musical” in The Road to Qatar. Cole’s such a musical theater authority that it’s worth joining Facebook to see his many perceptive comments about Forgotten Musicals. Here he gets in good puns about Babes in Oil-land and Dubai Bye Birdie. It’s a rare composer who can provide sharp and hummable melodies to a rash of comedy songs, but Krane does just that, down to musicalizing an Arabian movie star who plays Gypsy on his iPod. Finally the CD has a lovely song that was cut – in which Michael and Jeffrey meet and find that they have so much in common, it’s a phenomenon. Any musical theater enthusiast will relate to this one."- Peter Filichia, Kritzerland.com
"My faith in musical comedy just got a jump start with the arrival of a recent Off Broadway CD called "The Road to Qatar". Even if it were just the product of a wildly theatrical imagination, "The Road to Qatar" would be one terrific and wacky musical. Almost from the moment I inserted this deliciously self-referential cast album into my CD player, I could feel myself transported to that never, never land of musical comedy mirth where anything is possible with a tappy tune, and where dreams really do come true. David Krane's bubbly score is irresistibly melodic and Stephen Cole's lyrics smart, incisive and hilarious. In the meta-musical genre, "The Road to Qatar" far usurps the throne of "Spamalot," outshines "Urinetown," and is every bit the match of Mel Brooks' "The Producers. Melody and merriment to spare." - Joe Stead, Chicago Stage Standard
Meet the Cast and Creators at the York Theatre Press Preview
Cole & Krane & Sarah Stiles. "Here's Looking at You"
and "Nazirah's in London"
"A zany, lightweight, tuneful fish-out-of-water comedy set in an exotic locale featuring a Bob Hope/Bing Crosby-ish pair with a healthy dose of sex and romance provided by a Dorothy Lamour-ish babe. And for a good deal of their pocket-sized ninety-minute musical, Stephen Cole (book and lyrics) and David Krane (music) deliver as promised. At its best, The Road To Qatar! is a funny, breezy musical comedy hoot with some legitimately toe-tapping melodies."
Michael Dale, Broadway World
"Enjoy the Laughter on The Road to Qatar!, a delightful, new off-Broadway musical. The Road to Qatar! is a journey worth taking for musical goers that are seeking an uproarious night at the theatre. You may leave humming the show's upbeat number "Aspire" and you'll remember how delicious it was while you were enjoying it.
Matt Daley, Out in NJ
Stephen Cole and David Krane latched on to a truly exquisite idea in the development of The Road to Qatar! They take their audience on a drive completely reminiscent of the glory days of Bob Hope and Bing Crosby’s silver-screen turns, in the classic series of “Road” movies. By the end of the ninety minutes of action awaits a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for cast, crew, and audience alike. PLEASE do not hesitate to catch The Road to Qatar. You’ll be a very happy traveler.
“ Stephen Cole & David Krane jauntily musicalize the high jinks surrounding their 2005 commission to write a massive tuner called ASPIRE for an oil-rich Middle Eastern emir”
“A riotously silly book…stylish music for the often witty tale…the fantastic cast of comic actors virtually lift this low budget vehicle to the heavens…Director Phillip George gets the most out of every moment and then some, and keeps us smiling throughout...The cast are all exceptionally skilled comics and each is a stand out delivering zany inspirational work that is a laugh out loud riot”
"90 minutes of fun and side-splitting antics. simple, outrageous fun brought to life by master comedians. Executed on a shoe-string but such spareness does not in the least detract from the fun and talent that the production has in spades. If the February Blues are getting you down and you can’t afford a pricey getaway to Saint Bart's, Road to Qatar is just the ticket for a splash of sunshine to chase away the winter blahs!
Cole and Krane, in a fit of meta-musical nuttiness saw fit to transform their experience. Truth can sometimes be more outlandish than musical comedy. If you could capture the energy coming from the five knock-out performers, you could keep Dubai lit for a year.
"A delightfully wacky and good-natured take on the old “Road” movies of Bing Crosby and Bob Hope intertwined with an hysterical saga of putting on a show. This is a musical comedy, emphasis on the comedy. Full of clever musical theater references, bouncy songs and hilarious numbers."
“The Road To Qatar” is a perfect tribute to those “Road” pictures that I love. All the shows tunes are enjoyably done in true musical theatre style and are fun to hear and see. It is refreshing to see new theater work...I strongly suggest that you go immediately and enjoy your trip down “The Road To Qatar”.
Eli, King of Broadway
WINNER OF BEST NEW MUSICAL Dallas-Ft. Worth Drama Critics Forum Award
"The Road to Qatar, the most entertaining premiere in the company's history. In recent years, musicals about writing musicals have become a dime a dozen. But few are as funny, as much sheer fun, as The Road to Qatar . It's the company's giddiest yet, with a production as nifty as a terrific band of New York pros can make it. Flies by, thanks to Cole's effervescent lyrics and Krane's energetic songs. (The title number is especially memorable.) Director Phillip George staged the Forbidden Broadway shows for decades, and the lessons he learned there serve this new musical well. He keeps the action sizzling, makes sure the actors carve out their characters with surgeons' scalpels, and throws in lots of dance steps just for fun. The Road to Qatar is a crowd pleaser that's also full of wonderful extras for fans of musicals.”
Lawson Taitte, Dallas Morning News
“The world premiere of Lyric Stage's The Road to Qatar is a wacky, pun-filled romp based on the true story of "two short Jews," real life composer David Krane and lyricist Stephen Cole, who were separately emailed a request to write a musical for the Emir of Qatar and one thousand of his closed friends ... in the world's largest domed stadium ... with a plot including camels, a sultan's son and Mohammad Ali. The Road to Qatar is one of those productions that's easy on the brain, easy to enjoy and so easily needed with looming world events and everyday challenges attempting to sap our funny bones. All roads lead to Rome so the saying goes. For Lyric Stage, The Road to Qatar leads to fun, frivolity, and the freedom to laugh out loud."
Mary L. Clarke, Pegasusnews.com
“‘Qatar’ makes the Middle East funny. Although it’s about a massive boondoggle of a musical extravaganza, the production itself seems cobbled together, with minimal sets (rolling shower curtains make entrances and exits into a shell game), a small cast (five hugely talented folks, led by Brian Gonzales and Lee Zerrett) and a standup comedian’s sense of timing (if one thing doesn’t work, it moved on faster than a Texas thunderstorm).Composer David Krane’s bouncy score and librettist Stephen Cole’s clever lyrics (“Dubai Bye Birdie” — genius) is an effervescent delight. Watching it rattle-and-hummus along is a breezy joy.”
Arnold Wayne Jones, Dallas Voice.com
“Writer Stephen Cole and composer David Krane’s wacky re-telling of their most un-likely commissioning, The Road to Qatar, is an enchanting and hilarious piece of musical theater.”
Alexandra Bonifield, Renegade Bus
“There’s an old-fashioned Tin Pan Alley bounce to Krane’s melodies throughout. Even the song titles—“Good Things Come in Threes,” “Give ’Em What They Want,” “Oh, What a Show!”—sound like standards from Broadway standbys of the 1950s. That’s all dandy stuff. The Road to Qatar offers miles of smiles.”
Elaine Liner, TheatreJones
January 28, 2011
Two Jews in Qatar Writing
They did the first musical for money, and wrote the second one for the love and the fun of it.
We’ll probably never see the first one: Stephen Cole and David Krane’s Aspire. It played for a week in Qatar in November, 2005 after it had been commissioned by the country’s Emir. But we can now see the second Cole and Krane collaboration: The Road to Qatar, currently at the York Theatre Company. It could just as easily be called The Making of "Aspire", for that’s what it’s about: what two Jews enjoyed and endured while seeing their musical produced in a very foreign land.
It started when Cole awoke one morning to find a strange e-mail in his inbox. Krane had the same one in his – as did many musical theater writers around town. All were asked if they’d be available to write a musical that would open a new soccer stadium in Doha, Qatar. Many ignored it, but, oh, Cole and Krane are glad they didn’t. “At least it was a show that would get on in a hurry, in nine months' time,” says Cole. Like all of today’s musical theater writers, he’s certainly not used to that. Nevertheless, a half-dozen of Cole’s musicals have seen regional productions. He also ghost-writes memoirs both published (Charles Strouse’s Put on a Happy Face and Marni Nixon’s I Could Have Sung All Night) and un (Jack Carter's Pissed Off). Krane, meanwhile, has been a Broadway fixture since his rehearsal pianist days for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He did dance music and arrangements for Kiss of the Spider Woman, Ragtime and Victor/Victoria, but his blue-chip credit is providing dance music and additional score adaptation for the Chicago movie.
Cole and Krane had shaken hands over the years, but didn’t really know each other. So imagine how they felt when they arrived at an airport in Dubai in the middle of the night and found no one was waiting for them. These two Jewish writers didn’t feel terribly welcome. Krane says, “There was actually a sign that said ‘No entry for Israeli passports.’" Cole says he actually thought, "It's a new world, Golde," which carried with it its own particular irony. But an hour later, their rides arrived. “Time, we learned, has very little meaning in the Middle East,” says Krane. “And,” adds Cole, “so do apologies. We didn’t get one.” After a day and a half, they were flown to Qatar. “We could tell that Dubai is the Vegas of the Middle East, while Qatar is the Palm Springs,” says Cole. “We were 1,000 miles south of Baghdad and all the problems there,” said Krane. “We weren't scared.” “Well, aside from producers terrifying us,” adds Cole. “They knew so little about putting on a show, but they did have the money and the power.”
There were more surprises to be had. “Writing a musical today usually means thinking small, so imagine how shocked we were when we heard the show would have a cast of hundreds -- not including the camels, stallions and falcons,” says Cole. “They wanted ballet, acrobats and a score, so they went to Russia for the ballet performers, Croatia for the acrobats, and America for their writers, believing that each country had the best of each.”
All well and good, but Cole and Krane certainly weren’t free to write whatever inspiration hit them. They were ordered to set the show in Egypt, Greece and of course Qatar. They also had to factor in an appearance that would be made by Muhammad Ali. However, the boxing legend, perhaps still smarting from his one-week failure in Buck White in 1969, declined the offer. One musical in his lifetime was quite enough, thank you. Also turning down the opportunity was Francesca Zambello, who was given the chance to stage the show. Instead, another director from the opera world who knew nothing about musicals was hired.
But Cole and Krane stayed on. They encountered struggles. "We once had to write a song right in front of them at that very moment,” says Krane. “They wanted something a la Ricky Martin. We did it in no time, and they loved it. We used it to end the show.”
“It’s the song that got the Emir to stand, which also meant," Cole adds drolly, "that it got everyone to stand."
That wasn’t the reaction Cole and Krane received when they first auditioned the show for other important people in London. “I sing very Mermanesque, and when I finished singing the score, I got no response at all,” says Cole. “But that's the way they are. They're not into small talk of any kind.”
“And we did it in an Arabian neighborhood,” says Krane. “It wasn't far from where there had just been a tube bombing. Frankly, we were more scared in London than we were in Qatar – especially when we walked down the streets with our buddies dressed in Arab garb."
Acting as a translator was a young woman whom Cole describes as "a Lebanese Valley girl." Considering the way she was moonily looking at him and touching him, he could see that he had the music that made her dance. But his relationship with Peter Rinaldi, among other things, squelched any possible union.
Hey, how DID the conservative Middle East deal with two gay guys? "It never came up. At all," stresses Cole. Adds Krane, "We joked that it was a case of 'Don't ask, don't Tel-Aviv.'"
They kept quiet about their ethnicity, too. “I do believe that if we had been named Schultz and Goldberg, we wouldn't have got the job,” says Krane. But Cole adds, “We found some interesting commonalities. When we heard that we couldn't even mention the word 'ham' in the script, I thought, 'Oh, they're kosher, too!’"
“But,” says Krane, “my mother went to her grave not knowing that I was in the Middle East. I told her I was in Paris, and when I returned, I went to Fauchon on 57th Street and bought her a chocolate Eiffel Tower.”
Now, however, in The Road to Qatar, Cole and Krane are telling all, from tales about their “pudgy and arrogant and occasionally sweet producer” to “the star who was a Middle Eastern action hero." Still, they wanted to take some liberties, so they decided to change their own names. Stephen became Michael and David morphed into Jeffrey. Says Cole, "We also got cute guys James Beaman and Keith Gerchak to play us. We’re no fools."
"But," Krane adds, "85% of it is true."
Virtually the entire score is new. “We did recycle the title song from Aspire,” says Krane. In a way, it’s sweet revenge for not getting the third of their three promised payments.
The title The Road to Qatar is inspired by the famous Bing Crosby-Bob Hope films of the ‘40s. “It occurred to us one time that we actually felt as if we were in one of their Road movies, so that’s why we named the show that way,” says Cole. “And I’m kind of like Bob Hope in many ways and David is rather like Bing Crosby.”
The show played Lyric Stage in Irving, Texas in 2009, and although it had just an 11-performance run, that was enough to impress the Dallas-Fort Worth critics to vote it the best musical of the season.
Next they approached the York, because both had a history there. It had housed Cole’s After the Fair; Krane had worked there on Company, The Apple Tree and the so-called Teeny Todd that eventually moved to Broadway.
“Jim Morgan,” says Cole, referencing the York’s producing artistic director, “was interested the moment we told him what we were doing. So it’s been a great experience. And because The Road to Qatar is a semi-autobiographical musical, no other show we ever do will ever have the resonance of this one.”
And there will be others. Already Cole and Krane have written a short musical film, The Wheel Goes Round, and are scouting for other projects. “We’ve made a nice friendship, and the one we’ve written for Michael and Jeffrey is, we hope, just as heartwarming. All right, we should have been paid that final installment for Aspire. But even so, look at all we got out of it.”