If you’re like us, when you hear “Robert Moses Rock Musical,” you drop everything and go check out the preview. BLDZR is that musical, which had its debut last night at Manhattan’s Triad Theater on West 72nd Street. David Driver, an original RENT cast member is Robert Moses and the musical is written by Peter Galperin with a book by Galperin and Daniel Scot Kadin. If there was a way to put a new spin on the Robert Moses/Jane Jacobs dialectic, this is it, and we have to say, it’s supremely entertaining.
In the introduction, Galperin reminded the audience that Robert Moses, an unelected official, presided over New York City for 45 years. His tenure as head of numerous commissions, most notably the Triborough Bridge Authority, lasted through six governors and five mayors. And, as Galperin points out, “not $1 went to mass transit.” Yet, the urban world we live in today, said Galperin, was created by Robert Moses.
While Jane Jacobs is certainly a large figure in the show (a more youthful, leather jacket-wearing version than we’re used to), we also see the arc of Moses’ personal life with his wife Vera and his political relationship with Nelson A. Rockefeller. The tag line of the show, “The Gospel According to Moses,” gives you a sense of the story line. As the show states, “BLDZR dramatizes Master Builder Robert Moses’ evolution from a young idealist fervent with a desire to build the greatest city in the world to a power-insulated enemy of the people, corrupted, lost and alone.”
The show opens with the lyrics:
a shining future no one else could see,
Great bridges, tunnels and parks connected by highways.
This is the story of the city that came to be.
He was the masterbuilder, he was the powerbroker,
creating and building an empire at his command.
The Triborough King, the ultimate authority,
Robert Moses was the master of the masterplan.
Robert Moses himself sings things like “I was as modern as Le Corbusier,” and the cast sings that “His legacy stretches from Montauk to the Cross Bronx Expressway,” mentioning many other notable places we know today like Jones Beach, the Palisades, the failed Brooklyn Battery Bridge, the Lower Manhattan Expressway (LOMEX), the plan to demolish Washington Square Park, the Verrazano Bridge, the United Nations, Lincoln Center and more.
Stay tuned on the BLDZR website for further performances, which have not been announced yet.