On April 18, the Wagner College Theatre premiered “Goddess Wheel,” a new musical by “Hair” composer Galt MacDermot, with book and lyrics by Matty Selman. The show, which runs through April 29, is being staged in the Music Hall at Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Cultural Center.
“Goddess Wheel” is directed by Rusty Curcio, WCT’s Head of Dance. James Higgins serves as music director.
Inspired by “Lysistrata,” Aristophanes’ 5th century B.C. Greek comedy, “Goddess Wheel” tells the story of the Peloponnesian War between Sparta and Athens. The women, fed up with the war, decide to withhold sex until the men sign a peace treaty bringing the war to an end.
“This has been a glorious process with the two of them,” Rusty Curcio said of working with MacDermot and Selman. “They are two of the most gracious creators I’ve ever worked with.”
The large cast of 34 includes seniors Danielle Dallacco as Lysistrata; Leighann Colin as Penelope/Persephone; Ilana Bolotsky as Young Widow; Tara Kirk and Ashley Burger as Women of Sparta; Caroline LaTorre, Heather Kirschenbauer and Erica Weiderlight as Goddesses; Matt Sydney as the Chancellor; Ryan Cole as the Spartan Envoy/Soldier Ghost; and Andrew Khouri and Matt Favetta as Men of Athens. John Jamiel, Head of Acting at Wagner, performs the role of Hades/Oracle — except on Wednesday, April 25, and the two Saturday matinees, when Tommy Joscelyn performs the role. Many of Wagner College’s athletes are also featured in the production as Spartans.
“Goddess Wheel” is being staged by the Wagner College Theatre at the Music Hall on the campus of the Snug Harbor Cultural Center, 1000 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island. The show runs Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m. from April 18 through April 28, with a 2 p.m. matinee on Saturdays, and a Sunday show at 2 p.m. on April 29.
For tickets, visit or call the Box Office at 718-390-3259.
Note that, for security purposes, Wagner College Theatre does not accept any payments or orders via email.
Also note that, due to the ongoing restoration of Main Hall, the Box Office is temporarily located in Reynolds House.
The idea for "Goddess Wheel" was born in 2002, when Harvard's American Repertory Theatre was preparing to stage "Lysistrata," the ancient Greek antiwar comedy by Aristophanes.
“Galt MacDermot and I were asked to write music for ‘Lysistrata’ at the ART,” Matty Selman said. “Robert Brustein was involved; it was a farewell for Brustein [from the ART].
“ ‘Lysistrata’ was a play with music, by the way, not a musical — and it certainly wasn’t ‘Goddess Wheel.’”
Suzanne Bixby’s “Boston” column for Talkin’ Broadway provides a thorough documentation of the ART production of “Lysistrata.”
“Galt and I were sufficiently intrigued by the Lysistrata story, and stimulated by the collaborative process of writing music, that we decided to write our own musical based on the Lysistrata story,” Selman said.
“We met some people at CAP 21 [NYU’s Collaborative Arts Project 21] and ended up doing a workshop version of the new show, ‘Goddess Wheel,’ at the end of 2005,” Selman said, “but the show was at a very early stage of development then.”
CAP 21’s workshop version of “Goddess Wheel” was staged from Nov. 30 through Dec. 10, 2005.
“We also staged a concert version of ‘Goddess Wheel’ at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, just to see how it sounded,” Selman said. “It was well received.”
Selman and MacDermot continued working on “Goddess Wheel.”
“At a certain point, we concluded that we were ready to start production — and we realized we needed a director,” Selman said.
That’s when they called Rusty Curcio, head of dance at Wagner College Theatre.
“Galt said that Rusty had done a great job directing Wagner’s production of ‘Hair’ (2006), and he knew Rusty could handle the movement, the music, everything,” Selman said.
After getting the green light to proceed with the WCT production, Selman wrote a new “clean-up” script.
“We’ve taken the thing 360° from its inception, all the way around,” Selman said. “This is a brand new production, a brand new entity, a brand new form that Wagner College is premiering in April.”