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  • Writer's pictureJim Bessman

Peter Yarrow talks 'Lonesome Traveler,' acting at APAP

Lonesome Traveler: The Concert

Peter Yarrow surprised attendees last weekend at the Association of Performing Arts Presenters (APAP ) conference when he sat in at the BiCoastal Productions agency booth at the Hilton to assist in the promotion of Lonesome Traveler: The Concert, the acclaimed 2015 Off-Broadway musical now being packaged as a concert event that Yarrow has endorsed and can be featured in as guest star depending on his availability.

Created by NAACP Award-winner James O'Neil and Tony nominee Dan Wheetman with orchestrations by Grammy-winner George Grove of The Kingston Trio, the show is subtitled The Roots of American Folk Music" and celebrates the likes of Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Pete Seeger, The Weavers, Gordon Lightfoot, Peter, Paul and Mary, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, Donovan, Cat Stevens, Don McLean, James Taylor, Van Morrison and Leonard Cohen, depicting the story of folk music from the 1920s to the '60s and beyond within the context of an ever-changing America.

Peter, Paul and Mary's Yarrow, of course, fits right in. But he's also branched out into acting, having played a leftist intellectual in Noah Baumbach's 2015 film While We're Young.

"It took a cultural, ethical point-of-view," said Yarrow. "When I read the script I realized it was the antithesis of what I try to espouse in the songs I sing--as was the case with Peter, Paul and Mary all those years. And it profoundly preceded the rise of Trump."

He spoke specifically of the less-than-truthful aspiring film director played by Adam Driver, who is "perfectly able to live without finding any sense of responsibility or guilt--and can act unethically in terms of respecting the rights and creativity of Ben Stiller's [documentary filmmaker] character. I thought that that counterpoint made it a very important film—but I did’t expect it to become such a powerful commentary on what's happening now in our country."

Yarrow had attended the Irish Repertory Theatre's revival of the 1947 Burton Lane/E.Y. Harburg musical Finian's Rainbow, with its themes of immigration, economic greed, racial reconciliation and fighting bigotry, the night before.

"At the end I sang 'We Shall Overcome' with the cast, and spoke about why the music is so critical: It's intention is to bring a tear to your eyes and dissolve the distance between us. Now we must unite in the face of a disuniting force."



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