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BalletX’s Sunset, o639 Hour Reinvents History, Musical Instruments, And A Lot More

  • The Wilma Theater 265 South Broad Street Philadelphia, PA, 19107 United States (map)

BalletX’s Sunset, o639 Hour is ambitious art-making in the best sense. It contains a lot — ballet (of the contemporary sort), original music, invented instruments, wild flights of fancy, and at the heart of it, actual history. In this case, it’s of the tragic variety:

“On January 2, 1938, American pilot Captain Edwin Musick embarked on a historic flight – the inaugural airmail service between New Zealand and the United States. Piloting the Samoan Clipper, one of Pan American’s Sikorsky S-42B flying boats, Musick and six crew members traversed 4,000 miles of open ocean. From Auckland they stopped in Pago Pago in American Samoa and again at Kingman Reef, then on to Honolulu, where a connecting flight completed the mail run to San Francisco. On June 11,1938, Captain Musick and his crew departed again for New Zealand, carrying mail from the United States. However, shortly after taking off from Pago Pago, the last point before New Zealand, the Samoan Clipper tragically exploded mid-air in a blast that could be heard for miles. The ocean was littered with oil, burnt mail and plane wreckage. The bodies of the captain and his crew were never recovered, and the airmail service was suspended until July 1940.”

As you can see, there’s a lot going on there, and with this re-mounting of the critically acclaimed original, first staged in 2014, every detail is necessary to tell such an expansive tale. The musical core of Sunset, o639 Hour is a collab between New Zealand native/Philly theatre stalwart Rosie Langabeer, who composed the songs for the show with Andrew Mars (recently of the very moving Settled Arrows) and instrument inventor Neil Feather. And the choreography by BalletX’s Matthew Neenan, who has been hailed as “one of the most appealing and singular choreographic voices in ballet today,” is unlike any other work being performed in this era. This is one to get lost in, and it may be your last chance to see it.


Runs from November 16 thru the 20th. Tickets and more info here.