My Pulp review of Purple Rose Theatre’s world premiere production of Jeff Daniels’ ‘Roadsigns’

Screen Shot 2020-02-05 at 2.45.21 PMFor more than a quarter-century, Chelsea’s Purple Rose Theatre has specialized in new plays that don’t normally require a music director.

That’s why I was initially surprised to hear that a musical (or “play with music”?) called Roadsigns would have its world premiere there.

But then I quickly remembered the theater’s movie/Broadway/TV star founder, Jeff Daniels, has been performing his ever-growing catalog of original folk songs as an annual fundraiser for the Rose, and his son, Ben Daniels, is a professional musician in his own right.

Then the whole notion of a Purple Rose musical felt not just sensible but downright inevitable.

Indeed, the seed for Roadsigns was planted long ago, in 1978, when iconic American playwright (and Daniels’ mentor) Lanford Wilson overheard Daniels playing guitar in his dressing room in New York. He suggested the actor build music around a poem Wilson wrote about a bus ride he once took from Missouri to Chicago.

So my sense while watching Roadsigns was that I was seeing a ’70s folk song come to life was right on the money. (Jeff Daniels wrote the play; he and Ben Daniels wrote its original music.) READ THE REST HERE

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