At a recent showcase for the new Alliance Theatre production, “Troubadour,” which opened this week, the talent on display was like a feast of the locally-grown.
On stage at the Rich Auditorium in the Woodruff Arts Center to talk about the musical was the author, Atlanta playwright Janece Shaffer, creator of a string of plays for the Alliance including “The Geller Girls.”
Next to her was Atlanta songwriter Kristian Bush, one-half of the multiplatinum country juggernaut, Sugarland, and writer of the show’s 14 songs. Between them was Brandon Bush, Kristian’s brother and music director for the show.
To stage left was Zach Seabaugh of Marietta, a former competitor on “The Voice” and a lead in the show, which concerns a father (Radney Foster) who’s a country music legend, and his son (Seabaugh), who may prove to be the icon for the next generation.
(Susan Booth, artistic director at the Alliance, and out of towner Sylvie Davidson of Nashville, who plays and sings the role of Inez) rounded out the group.)
It was an impressive display of homegrown ability. It also demonstrated that the next generation of Atlanta performers is ready. When Booth introduced the immensely engaging Seabaugh, who said he was just shy of 18 years old, she mentioned their first conversation in which she told him “I have coats older than you.”
Booth said she took note of his appearance on “The Voice” (at age 16), “but he has four sisters and he’s an Eagle Scout, which is more important to me.”
Shaffer talked about the germ of the idea for the play, which started with a Jewish tailor making fabulous costumes for the country artists of the 1950s, and about tracking down Kristian Bush, to seek his help with some songs.
After their first phone call, they agreed to meet. “Let’s make it breakfast, not dinner,” said Bush, “because you can walk away from breakfast if things get weird.”
They hit it off like a house on fire, and, said Shaffer, he’d written the first song by the end of the meal.
The show morphed from a drama with 4 songs to a full-on musical with 14 tunes. Then they began seeking talent, stumbling on Seabaugh in their own backyard.
Bush was excited and chagrined at the same time hearing his own song “All Because of You” coming out of Seabaugh’s lungs. “I thought I’ll never sing that song as well as he did. Up until then it was mine. But,” he smiled, addressing Seabaugh, “you can have it.”
Booth told the invited audience that the show is kind of a brag book for Atlanta, a demonstration of the depth of talent in this city, and for that reason she’s particularly pleased about staging it at the Alliance.
“I want to show the larger field what we can do here.”
“Troubadour,” at the Alliance Theatre Jan. 18-Feb. 12; Tickets: $10-55; the Alliance is also promoting dinner and show packages, for details: alliancetheatre.org/; 404-733-5000; 1280 Peachtree St. NE