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Gary Rue Debuts 30th Musical

Like so many of McNally Smith’s faculty and the high profile talent from the Twin Cities music scene in general, Gary Rue (Composition) is one of the unsung players who has finally received  much deserved wider exposure for his work. Rue has just finished composing his 30th theatrical piece for the SteppingStone Theatre for Youth in St Paul.  Rue wrote the music for the world premier of Randy Latimer’s adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Nightingale.” The play opened July 10, 2009, and runs until August 2.  The auspicious occasion generated a recent front-page profile in the Sunday Arts & Entertainment section of the Star Tribune, underscoring his engaging career highlights.

Many longtime Minnesota rock buffs fondly know Rue’s early ‘70s work in the legendary rock band Wire, with Steve Theilgas and Curtiss A (Almsted). But he’s had many other incarnations. John Lennon fans of all ages have watched Rue and dozens of area musicians over almost three decades perform four-to-five hours of the Lennon songbook (solo and Beatles’ work) at the annual Tribute to John Lennon at First Avenue every December 8th.

That must-see event is led by Almsted, with Rue often playing Paul to his John — and directing and playing with the band, choice roles that he performed on the road for the late ‘60s pop star and songwriter Gene Pitney (“Town without Pity,” The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence,” “Looking through the Eyes of Love,” and many others).  And you can thank him for one of the classic jingles ever to burn up the airwaves: Rue’s the writer behind that catchy little ditty, “There’s a place for fun in your life: Mall of America!”

According to Star Tribune writer Graydon Royce, who penned the Rue profile tilted, “Gary Rue’s Many Steppingstones,” the composer and multi-instrumentalist “…has been a teen heartthrob, a music director for Gene Pitney, a promoter, a showman and a musician whose knack for invention and ear for melody made him perfect for theater and ruined him for arena-rock stardom.” Royce goes on to note that “he has made his living from the constant and lonely turmoil of the creative spirit. He has written more than 1,000 songs, including tunes recorded by Nick Lowe and Helen Reddy.” Leslie Ball, who worked with Rue in the smart and stylish ‘80s band, Rue Nouveau, calls his SteppingStone work “so smart and tender …He doesn’t write down to kids, and he can write so many different styles that it serves his artistry” (read the entire story at the Star Tribune).

Gary’s own website discusses his latest landmark occasion

How good is the new music for The Nightingale? Take Mr. Rue’s cue, from a recent posting on his own website:

Funny how a random call from the ‘Stone in 1994 (they needed some help with a show that was soon to hit the stage) turned into 15 years of immense satisfaction for me. They have given me license to do what I do best, they have exhibited a trust in my work that is rarely experienced in this world (or the next), and I’m immensely proud to have been a consistent part of their institution (and mission) for such an extended period of time. This music took a little longer than usual to get stage-ready (labors of love are often arduous), but the songs were worth the wait-time it took for the muse to catch up, and Randy’s book is wonderfully hilarious, poignant, topical and timely. Only seven bucks away from bein’ free…come on! See you at the Theatre!

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