When Twyla Met Billy Joel

Twyla Tharp didn’t have to spend much time convincing Billy Joel to let her use his music for an evening-long show. “It was like archeology. I treated the songs as shards, pieces of pots that had been pulled out of the ground, and I had to reconstruct the whole pot. My other concept was something called living newspapers. It was a short-lived form of American theater — Orson Welles, among others, practiced it. They took subject matter like electricity, water, labor, and bulked dramatic evenings out of these concepts, and I had the feeling that I would do this with the conflict of war.”