Clint Black Debuts New Musical In San Diego
'Looking For Christmas' deals with veterans and the effects of war on a family
The Old Globe is a theater associated with names like Shakespeare, Sondheim, Seuss and (more and more these days,) Steve Martin.
But for its latest show, "Looking for Christmas," the Globe goes outside its trusted roster of writers to produce a musical by best-selling country music star Clint Black. He's known for hits like "Killin' Time" and "A Better Man," not for Broadway showtunes.
Country music at the Globe is an unlikely pairing, one Black even acknowledges.
"You know, I really love (musicals) except for all the singing and dancing," he joked during an interview at the theater. "My real experience with musicals has been in movies. Some of them I really love and get hooked on ... and some of them don't resonate with me. I think that’s true with every piece from every genre. It wasn't some strange thing that people could be talking and suddenly break into song, I’d seen Elvis do it plenty of times."
For his own musical, Black and co-writer James Sasser based the story on songs from Black's 1995 holiday album, "Looking for Christmas."
The show is about Mike Randolf, a staff sergeant who returns home from Afghanistan only to have trouble readjusting to civilian life. Instead of enjoying friends and family, he's haunted by memories of the battlefield. It's Mike's 9-year-old daughter who helps him find the true meaning of Christmas.
"In 2004, I reissued my Christmas collection with two new songs," Black said. "One of the new songs, the lead guitarist and I wrote right at the beginning of the war in Afghanistan, and it was right at Christmastime. We were thinking of all those families who were going to be apart, and so we really based our backstory on military families."
Black presented early versions of the show in New York, and when The Old Globe showed interest in staging it, the idea of bringing the musical to a military town like San Diego felt like the right fit. It’s also a chance for the Globe to expand its audience. Through donors, the Globe is giving free tickets to military families.
Because "Looking for Christmas" has never been staged before, it's been a round-the-clock effort for Black and the creative team. With the show now in previews, there are new revisions and changes every day.
"It’s really requiring a lot of patience and self-control because I’m used to getting it right and then putting it in front of an audience," he said. "And in this business, you get it as right as you can and then you put it in front of an audience so you can get it 'righter,' and that takes some adjusting for my brain."
"Looking for Christmas" isn’t over after its run at The Globe. The show is set for a national tour, and Black hopes that it’s able to spread what he thinks is the true message of Christmas.
"It’s not in all the toys and stuff, right?" Black said. "It’s a looking around and thinking about what other people need and trying to give that to them. I think that’s a year-round message."