With the approaching premiere of Jay Jones’s play “The Lizard King” in Milwaukee on September 17th. Information on the play is slowly leaking from the rehearsal rooms.
“The Lizard King” is about Jim Morrison’s last days in Paris. I was able to talk with Al Cooper, a former Chicago area musician, now living in Milwaukee who has composed original music for the play. Cooper played with the band Sweet Cheeks in the 80’s and worked with a former member of The Grassroots, famous for being a group from the Sunset Strip in heyday of the 60’s. Cooper will be playing live during the performance. His keyboard and guitar work will be backed by a drummer (Rick Carlson), adding musical accents to the play.
Cooper, whose influences run to progressive rock groups like Genesis and The Doors will provide a musical texture as a background to Morrison’s poetry. Cooper said he was influenced by The Doors “An American Prayer” album, but all the music Cooper is playing is original and composed by him solely for “The Lizard King”.
There is also backing music for flashback scenes to Morrison’s earlier days, “there’s nothing from The Doors directly, just flavors of some stuff.” When asked if he had written the music ahead of time or in conjunction with rehearsals Cooper said, “I didn’t know what to expect, I’ve never had the challenge of putting music behind scenes before, so I listened to a lot of Doors songs and had a few pieces in mind using psychedelic and 60’s genre stuff. When I worked with the actors, it just fell together, using the pieces and I kept with a blues feel. We rehearsed and it fell into place.”
When asked how he thinks playing the music live during the play will work, Cooper said, “It’s going to be more enjoyable than working with a band for three 50 minute sets a night. The whole experience was stress free, relaxing. I just hope I can contribute and the play takes off!”
“The Lizard King” is appearing at the Arcade Theater, 161 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, WI. Preview dates start September 15 with opening night being Thursday September 17 at 7:30pm. Information and performance days and times are at KACM Theatrical Productions. The run of the play is scheduled through September 27. Tickets are now on sale at Brown Paper Tickets.
Originally published Sept. 3, 2015