Now you can ride your bike to the theater and not worry about locking it outside. In fact, you can keep your eye on it during the show. It’ll be parked onstage and made part of the set if you go to “Bell of the Ball Bearings,” presented by Manhattan’s Theater for the New City from June 4 to 21.
“Belle of the Ball Bearings” is a one-woman musical by Elizabeth Battersby (concept, book), Caroline Murphy (lyrics), and Youn-Young Park (music). It’s inspired by Ms. Battersby’s life experience as a bike racer, bike shop owner, bike messenger, and soul mate to everyone who lives life on two wheels.
The show is one-woman’s version of “Quicksilver” meets “Pump Boys and Dinettes.” Its author/performer, a mezzo and lyric soprano, is now a spinning instructor. But she is a former United States Cycling Federation (USCF) racer and former owner of Fort Greene Cycles, a repair shop in Brooklyn. She sets her musical in 1995, “when computers were just coming in and NY was a little more interesting.”
The show is about a 75 year old family-owned bike shop. It’s all done in song, with all roles played by Battersby. Like a Western saloon, a roadhouse diner or a bar at a train station, a bike shop can be a rich meeting place for unique and memorable personalities. Battersby sings and acts a wide assortment of characters. They include messengers, moms, bike mechanics, a rabbi, a veteran, and a rich variety of other neighborhood types.
NYC Bikes of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which makes its frames and builds its own bicycles, is contributing bikes and tools for the set, but not all the bikes. Notable among the props will be Battersby’s own replica of a Pennyfarthing big-wheel bicycle. Crunch is furnishing a spinning bike for the show.
Bring your messenger bag and courier tickets and see the show for $5.00. Show your USCF license, or bring your bike and get a “Belle of the Ball Bearings” water bottle.
Elizabeth Battersby (concept/author/performer) has appeared at TNC in “Kryptonite Hearts,” “The Golden Bear” and various productions of TNC’s annual Street Theater tour, which is written and directed each year by Crystal Field. At the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre, she has been seen in “The Blacksmiths Folly,” “Godspell” and “The Wallenberg Mission.” She studies voice with Victoria Clark. Her experience on two wheels ranges from the high (USCF Bicycle racer-Criterion/Road and Track racing) to the low (bike messenger with Elite Couriers). Now when she steps into the pedals, it’s as a certified group fitness and spinning instructor at Crunch Fitness or MELT instructor at The JCC in Manhattan. She is married to performer Charles Battersby and is native New Yorker.
Caroline Murphy (director/lyrics) received her MFA in musical theatre writing from NYU in 2003. While studying, she wrote the book and lyrics for three musicals, “Fishing the Moon” (music by Brett Macias), “Branded and Graced” (music by Darius Smith) and “Tuesday” (music by Brett Macias). “Tuesday” was a finalist for the 2006 Chicago Stages series and the 2007 New York Musical Theatre Festival. As a playwright, her work has been produced at Hampshire College, the Shakespeare and Co. Studio Festival (The Berkshires, MA), the NYC Fringe Festival, Dixon Place (NYC), and the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. She received the 2004 ASCAP Max Dreyfus scholarship for musical theatre composition and was invited in 2006 to participate in the Baryshnikov-Tisch fellowship. Her new musical, “Beneath the Surface,” opened in the spring of 2008 and is now being developed through NYU’s CAP21. Murphy is currently featured in the March 2009 issue of American Theater Magazine as an up and coming voice in the world of musical theatre.
Youn-Young Park (Music) was born in South Korea and holds a MFA in Musical Theatre Writing from NYU Tisch School. Her composing credits include: “Othello and Iago” (National Theater of Korea), “Once Upon a Time in Narcissia” (co-written with Susannah Pearse), “A Portrait of a Blind Girl” (co-written with Daniel Larsen, based on a Korean Novel by Kwang Hwa Sa), “How Grandmother Spider Stole the Sun” (co-written with Susannah Pearse, commissioned and published by Mondo Publishing Company, NY). Her prizes include the CJ Musical Showcase Award (Best Musical Writing), Daegu International Musical Festival Award (Director, Writer, Music Director of the show), Toyota scholarship and Tisch-CJ entertainment scholarship. She is currently teaching Musical Theater Studies at the Graduate School of DanKook University and Kookmin University in Korea. She is a member of Dramatist Guild of America.
Gerry Dieffenbach (musical director/additional music) is a singer/songwriter and musical director who has received the Songwriters Guild of America President’s award (twice), The Back Stage Bistro Award for Outstanding MD, The CAB Magazine Award for Sustained Achievement and the Critics Choice Award for Outstanding Album of the year (for his original CD, “Well Informed”). He was musical director for the B’way musical “Dream.” He trained in piano and voice at Carnegie Mellon University and Manhattan School of Music. He has accompanied numerous performers including: Shauna Hicks, Georga Osborne, Christine Pedi, Darius de Haas, Karen Mason, Donny Osmond, Joely Fisher, Clint Holmes, Margaret Whiting, Petula Clark, Martha Reeves & the Vandellas and Joan Rivers.
Performances are June 4 to June 21, 2009 at Theater for the New City, 155 First Avenue (at East 10th Street) in Manhattan’s East Village. The performance schedule is Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 3:00 PM. Tickets are $10. For tickets call the box Office at (212) 254-1109 or visit www.theaterforthenewcity.net.