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Jailbirds Sing in San Pedro, CA

03-05-2009 05:08 PM CET | Arts & Culture

Press release from: The Relevant Stage Theatre Company

Upton Sinclair's Singing Jailbirds: The Musical makes its World Premiere in the city of its setting in May, 2009

Upton Sinclair's Singing Jailbirds: The Musical makes its World Premiere in the city of its setting in May, 2009

The Relevant Stage Theatre Company is mounting a visionary musical adaptation of Upton Sinclair’s obscure 1924 play, “Singing Jailbirds”. The new production titled, UPTON SINCLAIR’S SINGING JAILBIRDS: THE MUSICAL will feature a large cast of performers. The story is set in 1920’s San Pedro, the Port Town of Los Angeles amid the demonstrations of union activists during the worker’s movement.

UPTON SINCLAIR’S SINGING JAILBIRDS: THE MUSICAL will feature over 35 musical numbers, including numerous songs from the IWW’s (Industrial Workers of the World) Little Red Songbook by Joe Hill, T-Bone Slim, Ralph Chaplin and other Wobbly leaders. The score also includes popular music from the decade such as If I Could Be With You, Have A Smile, Sonny Boy, If I Had You, Love’s Ship, and more. Composer and Music Director Robert Gross, along with Writer and Lyricist, Ray Buffer also penned several original songs and the entire show consists of new musical arrangements.

The story is just as Upton Sinclair penned it: Red Adams, a leader of the Wobblies, is thrown into solitary confinement without criminal charges for peacefully demonstrating. Threatened with the charge of criminal syndicalism (a charge no longer in the State of California’s law books) Red begins to lose touch with reality as isolation and starvation begins to play with his mind. Through Red’s delusions we see his secret past, and his perceptions of the present and future. His steadfastness to the doctrine and vision of the One Big Union is what keeps him grounded as he and his fellow workers use songs to turn pain into power and get their pleas for change heard.

In 1923, 86 years before this production, Upton Sinclair climbed the steps of a platform that striking dockworkers had built atop a hillock they named Liberty Hill. As someone held a candle for illumination, Sinclair said nothing about the 600 dockworkers who had recently been arrested for striking. He only tried to read the Bill of Rights. He got as far as the first three lines of the 1st Amendment, the one guaranteeing freedom of speech, before he was arrested. The ACLU of Southern California was formed the same day that Sinclair addressed the public one week after his arrest and three years after the national ACLU had formed. Sinclair’s arrest and release also led to the empowerment of the labor movement.

Sinclair’s four-act play on which this new production of UPTON SINCLAIR’S SINGING JAILBIRDS: THE MUSICAL is based, ran for 79 performances on Broadway in 1928 and 1929. The new musical production will run May 22 – May 24; May 29 – May 31 – 2009, Fridays and Saturdays at 8PM, Sundays at 2:30 PM. Performances will be at Warner Grand Theatre, 478 W. 6th Street, San Pedro, CA 90731. WGT is a facility of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs.

Advance tickets may be purchased at Press inquiries may be made to or (310) 929-8129.

Information about upcoming auditions for this production may be found here:

The Relevant Stage challenges hearts, engages minds, and exposes truths through musical theatre at Warner Grand Theatre in Downtown San Pedro, CA

S . Lodge
600 S Pacific Ave #220
San Pedro, CA 90731

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