Watch The Surreal Spectacle Of The Illinoise Broadway Cast Performing Sufjan Stevens’ “Jacksonville” On Colbert

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It’s one thing to know that someone adapted Sufjan Stevens’ classic 2005 album Illinois into a Broadway musical. It’s another thing entirely to see that musical in action, but now you can. Illinoise, the new production from director/choreographer Justin Peck and playwright Jackie Sibblies Drury, opened in Chicago last year. Right now, it’s running on Broadway, and it’s up for four Tonys, including Best Musical. The cast recording of the show came out last week, and the play’s whole company performed on last night’s episode of Stephen Colbert’s Late Show.

On Colbert, everyone involved in Illinoise — singers, orchestra, dancers — performed “Jacksonville,” one of many great Sufjan Stevens songs that they’ve adapted for the stage. Back in 2005, songs like “Jacksonville” sounded almost absurdly ornate in the context of that time in indie rock. Here was a record with strings and horn and banjos and angelic voices. The Broadway-show version of that song takes its grandeur and blows it all the way out. It’s really something to see.

The Colbert performance of “Jacksonville” is full of theatrical touches — a lantern-lit stage version of a bonfire, band members in butterfly wings, way more tap-dancing than I was expecting. I watched it very early this morning — couldn’t sleep — and almost felt like I was hallucinating. It’s crazy to imagine a song like “Jacksonville” staged on this level, and it’s even crazier to watch it actually be realized. Check it out below.

Illinoise: A New Musical (Original Cast Recording) is out 5/31 on Nonesuch. Illinoise is currently running at Broadway’s St. James Theatre.