Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik are the words-and-music team responsible for Spring Awakening, that loud, rude, impassionated hit musical bursting with adolescent energy and angst. Their new work, Arms on Fire, is a quieter but equally heartfelt piece, not a full-scale musical but rather a three-character contemplation of ambition and loneliness, framed in songs that link past and present.
Actually, make that two characters and a ghost: Ulysses, a world-weary Honduran ex-DJ living in exile and isolation in New York; Smith, a compulsively voluble New Age wannabe singer; and Josephina, a nightclub cantante whose memory haunts Ulysses and whose songs resonate in Smith. The play-with-music has its world premiere this weekend, not in the Big Apple but at the Chester Theatre Company, the hilltop home of smart, adventurous contemporary stagecraft.
Through July 7, Chester Theatre Company, 15 Middlefield Rd., Chester, (413) 354-7771, http://www.chestertheatre.org.