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Purple Line, the Musical?
The playwright imagines a Purple Line train platform like this one, at MARC Brunswick Line's Barnesville station. Photo via Tracks: The Musical.

The playwright imagines a Purple Line train platform like this one, at MARC Brunswick Line's Barnesville station. Photo via Tracks: The Musical.

The Purple Line, a proposed 16-mile transit line in Maryland’s D.C. suburbs, has inspired a new musical, titled “Tracks,” written by Paul Stregevsky, a Department of Homeland Security employee, and Marshall White, a high school music teacher. (Check out performer bios and audition videos–“Third Car, Seventh Row” is particularly catchy–at the official “Tracks” Web site.)

EMBARQ and the World Resources Institute studied the proposal and found that bus rapid transit (BRT) along the route would actually cost less, offer similar services, and fight global warming better than light-rail cars.

Despite this analysis, which generated a lot of debate, Stregevsky and White envision a light rail scenario for their song and dance tribute.

From The Gazette:

“Tracks” is set in 2014 when the Purple Line, a 16-mile proposed light rail project [Editor’s note: Maryland’s Governor has not chosen a preferred alternative, yet, but light rail seems to be the local favorite.] running from Bethesda and New Carrollton via Silver Spring, has supposedly been completed. Most of the action and the 23 musical numbers take place on the platform of an isolated station at the extreme end of the line. The transit authority has announced that unless at least 18 riders use the station every day, it will close.

The station’s loyal users, aware that just a few of them could decide the fate of the station, welcome a newcomer, Duran Longshaw, a Lexus driver in withdrawal who is bitter about taking the train. Longshaw learns the ways and habits of transit users and grows to love the Purple Line, and sheds his class snobberies.

Along the way, several of the characters fall in love. Longshaw marries a woman who sells flowers at the station, while the Jewish songwriter dates the Iranian banker. And in the end, the station is saved.

“I’m a romantic. I don’t see any venue that isn’t romantic,” said Stregevsky, whose second song in the play contains the line: “From the moment that you ride it/you’ll feel the love inside it/When riding with friends like these.”

The play’s synopsis reminds us of The Simpsons “Monorail” episode. Remember? “Well, sir, there’s nothing on earth like a genuine, bonafide, electrified six-car Monorail!”

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