‘Call Me Ishmael,’ Bay Street Brings ‘Moby Dick’ to Life

Harris Yulin will star as Capt. Ahab in Bay Street Theater's production of "Moby Dick." Courtesy Bay Street Theater.

Bay Street Theater’s Literature Live! program returns with an online theatrical production of Herman Melville’s American classic “Moby Dick.”

This virtual production is adapted by Bay Street Theater director of education and community outreach Allen O’Reilly and directed by associate artistic director Will Pomerantz. The show screens at baystreet.org on Tuesday, November 17, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 per household.

This 90-minute adaptation is based on the 1851 novel “Moby Dick; or, The Whale.” Skillfully condensing and theatricalizing Melville’s classic tale, the show features a versatile ensemble of actors who portray the book’s unforgettable characters, including Ishmael, Queequeg, Starbuck, and Captain Ahab.

The cast of the production features celebrated actor and East End native Harris Yulin; Broadway and stage stars Dan Domingues, Wonza Johnson, Nehal Joshi, John Kroft, and Trent Saunders; and O’Reilly. The production features special video affects and editing by Mike Billings, an original score by Michael Holland and costume design by Meghan O’Beirne.

“This production will go well beyond the normal empty ‘Zoom boxes’ presentation, with actors merely appearing in street clothes in their bedrooms,” said Pomerantz. “Instead, all actors will be costumed, and will appear — via the magic of green screen technology — in front of exciting backdrops and settings created by designer Mike Billings. All the design elements are being created remotely (with costumes and green screens mailed to actors), and a wonderful original musical score will be created to add yet another dimension to this world-premiere ‘virtual production.’

“We are continuing to work to raise the production values of our online presentations, and we think ‘Moby Dick’ will be another step forward, as we explore the exciting possibilities of this new technology,” he continued.

Following this online premiere, the home viewing audience is invited to “raise a cup of ale” alongside the cast as part of a talkback segment held via Zoom. This in-depth talkback segment featuring the show’s creators and cast will also be provided to school groups following performances on other dates and times set specifically for their viewing needs.

Now in its 12th year, Literature Live! is a BOCES-approved Arts-in-Education program designed specifically with middle and high school age students, their teachers, and administrators in mind. Plays are chosen from standards-based literature and are supported with teacher-developed lesson plans and reference materials.

The performance is approximately 90 minutes in length and provided free of charge to any school group, their teachers, and administrators. In the past, schools from as far west as Hempstead and Brentwood have traveled to Sag Harbor to enjoy Literature Live! productions at Bay Street, and additional showings for those with special needs, including the Cleary School for the Deaf, have been provided. With over 30,000 students and nearly 60 schools participating, Literature Live! remains a cornerstone of Bay Street’s Educational outreach programming.

As the 2020 presentation will be virtual, schools from across the country can sign up for this free offering. This year’s production, while available nationwide, will garner special appeal by the East End community, with its roots planted firmly at the center of the American whaling industry. Melville’s famous story of the whaling ship Pequod and the fate of its obsessive captain, Ahab (Yulin), has become one of the most famous works of the American Renaissance of literature. The book established a later reputation among famous authors of the turn of the century, who praised the work for its portrayal of 19th century American society and its romanticism of the whaling industry. Since its revival as a Great American Novel, it has influenced the works of novelists J.M. Barrie and William Faulkner, singer Bob Dylan, and artist David Klamen.

For details, visit baystreet.org.