• Theatre

David Reiffel

Guest Artist

Sound Designer for THE BACCHAE

David Reiffel is a Boston-based composer, songwriter, playwright and sound designer. He grew up in the Hyde Park neighborhood on Chicago’s south side, near the University of Chicago, where, at eight, he saw his first play, Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Before his voice changed, he sang in the children’s chorus of the Chicago Lyric Opera in productions of Turandot and Billy Budd. As a teenager, in addition to acting and creating musicals at the Latin School of Chicago, he acted with Court Theatre and the University of Chicago Blackfriars Club. He moved to Massachusetts to attend Harvard University (BA ’79-8), from which he graduated in three years, receiving the Leonard Bernstein Scholarship for composition studies (1976-1978) and the 1978 David McCord prize for contribution to the arts.

Upon graduation, he performed street theatre in Denver, Colorado, under the direction of Peter Sellars, playing Wotan in Sellars’s The Ring of the Nibelung. He returned to Boston, where he continued to compose, act, and direct, writing and producing two original musicals: Pleasant Dreams and the murder mystery musical Say Goodbye, which was chosen as the inaugural Louis B. Mayer Memorial Production by the Radcliffe Office for the Arts.

Beginning in 1982 and continuing for nine years, he collaborated with director Bill Rauch on more than 20 productions. Sixteen of these were produced during his five years’ tenure as composer and sound designer in residence for the nationally acclaimed Cornerstone Theater Company. Cornerstone traveled all over the United States, settling in small towns and creating site-specific musical adaptations of classics such as Romeo and Juliet in Port Gibson, Mississippi (General Sherman’s “town too beautiful to burn”), The Oresteia on the Walker River Paiute Reservation in Schurz, Nevada, and The Good Person of Setzuan in the ranching community of Long Creek, Oregon. He returned to Boston in 1991.

Since then, he has created music and sound design at theatres in the Boston area and at regional theatres including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, OR; Court Theater in Chicago; the Chautauqua Festival in Chautauqua, NY; and Shakespeare & Company in Lenox, MA. He served as musical director for JoAnne Akalaitis’s production of The Iphigenia Cycle, both in Chicago and in New York City. He also served as musical director and arranger for Coolsville, an evening-long devised piece based on the songs of Rickie Lee Jones, and The Cradle Will Rock by Marc Blitzstein at The Boston Conservatory. He recently music directed (and created new arrangements for) Man of La Mancha, directed by Antonio Ocampo-Guzman, at New Repertory Theatre. He also music directed the Boston premiere of Shakespeare in Love, directed by Scott Edmiston, reprising the score he had composed for the U.S. premiere earlier in the season at Oregon Shakespeare. For his work on these two shows, he won the 2018 Elliott Norton Award for Outstanding Musical Direction. He was the Sound Designer and Composer for last season’s production of Everyman at Northeastern University.

He is Program Director for the New Opera and Musical Theatre Initiative (NOMTI), which supports the development of new musical theatre in the New England region, primarily through its Advanced Writers Lab (AWL)A cabaret of his songs, Rogues’ Gallery, was presented at the Cornelia Street Café in New York City. He wrote lyrics for Cupcake, music by Michael Wartofsky and libretto by Bradley Seeman, in performance at Boston’s Club Café, and is presently working on the revision of the libretto. A one-act musical, The Rag Doll, with book by Silvia Graziano, received an IRNE (Independent Reviewers of New England) nomination for Best New Play. His full-length musical Glory has been developed at the NOMTI AWL, where he is presently working on an opera, Aunt Sonya’s Sofa, based on the story by Mikhail Kuzmin.

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