BULLDOZER started with one song about Robert Moses written by New York songwriter/composer PETER GALPERIN for a NYC Parks Department song writing contest in 2012. The song ("Master of the Masterplan"), a folk song in the style of early Bob Dylan, was rejected from the contest for being too long, but survived to receive it's first public performance by Galperin and his band in 2014, appropriately enough, at Greenwich Village's famous Bitter End Club. Over the next several years the concept grew as Galperin further developed his musical about the man who built and almost broke New York City. By early 2016 an abridged version of the show was readied and performed in a soldout series of live music showcases in Manhattan at the Triad Theater and The Cutting Room.
In November 2017, the full 95-minute, 19-song show had it's Off-Broadway debut at the Theatre at St. Clement's, starring CONSTANTINE MAROULIS (best known for his Tony-nominated performance in ROCK OF AGES and his epic run as a finalist during the heyday of AMERICAN IDOL) as Robert Moses, with WAYNE WILCOX (Broadway credits include: CORAM BOY, PRISCILLA, QUEEN OF THE DESERT, THE NORMAL HEART (Drama Desk Award) and CHAPLIN) as Nelson Rockefeller, MOLLY POPE (recipient of the 2016 Bistro Award for Creative Cabaret Artistry and the 2016 MAC Award for Musical Comedy) as Greenwich Village activist Jane Jacobs, RYAN KNOWLES (originated the role of Buddy in the North American tour of WE WILL ROCK YOU, the Queen musical) as the Washington Square Park street singer, and KACIE SHEIK (Broadway, Central Park, West End, National Tour: HAIR (Jeanie) (Helen Hayes nomination -Best Actress) Dir. Diane Paulus) as Moses' longtime assistant (and eventual second wife).
Directed by KAREN CARPENTER (award-winning director of LOVE LOSS AND WHAT I WORE, by Nora Ephron & Delia Ephron, produced by Daryl Roth; Jonathan Dove’s opera, MANSFIELD PARK; New York Times critics’ pick HANDLE WITH CARE and many others), the show ran for 42 performances, was seen by over 3,200 fans, and was hailed by New Yorker Magazine as "theatrical gold."
Powered by 19 original songs steeped in the fresh, vibrant rock sound of the mid-1960's, BULLDOZER initially portrays Robert Moses as a Johnny Appleseed, a folk hero of the common man – a sophisticated and visionary bureaucrat who, starting in the 1930's, rode the wave of three decades of federally-financed building programs that pumped tens of billions of dollars into the New York economy. However, using the power of eminent domain he displaced over a quarter million New Yorkers – often the poorest – to make way for his public housing and highway projects, and by the late 1950's many began to wonder – was Moses actually destroying the city he loved? And as the most powerful unelected public official New York and the nation had ever seen, his ideas and political tactics were imitated across the country for decades to come.
By 1960, the tide began to turn. Led by the writer and activist Jane Jacobs, who was among the first to question not just his tactics, but also his vision of urban renewal, a nascent community movement (with behind-the-scenes support from Nelson Rockefeller) would prove to be Moses’ biggest opponent. When he attempts to demolish much of Greenwich Village and Washington Square Park to build yet another expressway, a project he considered crucial to the future economic viability of the city, a remarkable phalanx of opposition will come together and lead to his undoing.
Moses' lasting legacy is the modern urban environment that we live in today. Of the billions of dollars invested in public infrastructure during Robert Moses' tenure from the 1930's to the 1960's, not one dollar went towards mass transit. If you are stuck in traffic on the Long Island Expressway, or your subway to Bay Ridge breaks down, or even if you are a die-hard Mets fan (his dislike of Walter O'Malley sent the Brooklyn Dodgers to LA), Moses' work impacts your life more than you realize. In fact, Moses' infatuation with the automobile and modernism created the car culture of today, and by extension the anti-pedestrian urbanism that shapes the cityscape of nearly every American city. And that's definitely a story worth singing about.