In 2013, Tommy teamed up with director Michael Moran, then a directing MFA candidate at UC San Diego, to reimagine Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath for the stage. Using the noted Galati adaptation as the base script, Tommy and Michael infused the play with period and contemporary folk music. As the vehicle by which the family migrates, music becomes the central force that keeps the family together.
The production premiered at the Mandell-Weiss Forum at The La Jolla Playhouse in 2013. It was remounted in Oakland with Moran's theater company, Ubuntu (a Nigerian word that means "I am because we all are") as part of their inaugural 2016 season, centered on the theme of threatened homes.
Steinbeck's themes still haunt us today. Set in the site-specific basement of the Oakland City Church, and peopled with a cast of many ages and ethnicities, Ubuntu's production confronts audiences with burning questions of humanity and decency, and seeks to ignite compassion and fellowship among people at a divide.
The Grapes of Wrath
November 21 - November 24, 2013
The Mandell-Weiss Forum, La Jolla Playhouse
By Frank Galati
Directed by Michael Moran
With songs arranged by Tommy Crawford
Musical Direction by Tommy Crawford
Scenic Design by Lily Bartenstein
Costume Design by Janet O'Neill
Lighting Design by Bo Tindell
Sound Design by Splash Yang
Dramaturgy by Heather Ramey
Assistant Direction/Choreography by Jesca Prudencio
All photos by Jim Carmody