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development history

From the first table read in November 2013 to our next phase, we've been fortunate to work with talented professionals. Here's the path to date, with the most recent activities listed first. We can't wait for what's next.

 
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Dramatists Guild Institute PIP

Through the DGI's Plays in Progress program, lyricist/librettist Lee Phenner worked with DGI consultant John Dietrich to focus on story and backstory. The core framework remains but the revision ratchets up the tension, deepens the characters, and introduces a new number, "I Am Your Champion No More" sung by Professor Chester Washington III.

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Dramatists Guild: End of Play

After a long hiatus, we jumpstarted work on the show by taking part in the DG's End of Play program. In one month's time, Lee drew on comments from participants nationwide, as well as from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Black Swan work and input from Playwrights Horizons. The revision included changes in lyrics and punching up the book, with attention to conflict and resolution (or lack thereof).

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Oregon Shakespeare Festival's Black Swan Lab for New Works

Lyricist/librettist Lee Phenner and directory/story contributor Benny Sato Ambush were invited to spend a week with the OSF repertory company in their new works lab under the direction of Lue Douthit. This intense session inspired critical changes to the setting and story.

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National Race Amity Conference

National Race Amity Center Executive Director William Smith invited us to perform passages from the work at the organization's national conference.

Director: Benny Sato Ambush

Music Director: Scott Nicholas

Cast

Professor Chester Washington III: Ron Williams

Sergeant Tim O'Connor: Nile Hawver

Chloe Washington: Briana Maia

President Michael Rivera: Christian Figueroa

Ensemble

Liliane Klein

Steven Martin

Band

Piano: Scott Nicholas

Bass: Joseph Smith

Drums: Doug Lippincott

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Emerson College, Bill Bordy Theater

An on-book recital performance of the full show included a talkback featuring William Smith, executive director of the National Race Amity Center, and Roxanne Euben, Ph. D., of Wellesley College. 

Director: Benny Sato Ambush

Music Director: Scott Nicholas

Cast

Professor Chester Washington III: Ron Williams

Sergeant Tim O'Connor: Kevin Cirone

Chloe Washington: Briana Maia

President Michael Rivera: Christian Figueroa

Ensemble

Tyla Collier

Brian De Lorenzo

Liliane Klein

Steven Martin

Ron Murphy

Band

Piano: Scott Nicholas

Bass: Joseph Smith

Drums: Aaron Drescher

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Tufts University, Distler Performance Hall

We introduced six of a planned 16 songs during this on-book recital performance. Several actors from the first table read took part, and new vocalists joined, with some roles split between actors and singers.

Director: Benny Sato Ambush

Music Director: Scott Nicholas

Cast

Professor Chester Washington III:

read by Bill Bruce; sung by Joshua Bailey 


Sergeant Tim O'Connor:

read by Daniel Berger Jones; sung by Cailin Mackenzie 

Chloe Washington: Alexandria Danielle King

President Michael Rivera: Christian Figueroa

Ensemble

Amelia Broome

Trent Bagley

Shanaé Burch

Patrick Curran

Samantha Evans

Keith Mascoll

Eric Radford Weiss

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Emerson College, The Cabaret

The first phase of development was a table read of the book and lyrics. 

Director: Benny Sato Ambush

Cast

Professor Chester Washington III: Bill Bruce

Sergeant Tim O'Connor: Daniel Berger Jones

Chloe Washington: Miranda Craigwell

President Michael Rivera: Jaime Carillo

Ensemble

Maureen Keiller

Alexandria Danielle King

Eric Weiss

Tiffany Chen

Patrick Curran

Samantha Evans

Keith Mascoll