Help Shape a new Show in Seattle!

Deborah's Story: You got a theater? I got a show!.

Buy Tix  for the show online

Video Trailer  at right - for "In the Wings" workshop production – 3-and-a-half minute video trailer by Lynn Andersen - click it to watch

Learn more about the show online  

Dear Friends,

Many of you know how important stories are to me, and how they infuse my concerts, but many people don't know that my goal, from childhood, was to write Broadway musicals.   This month I'm working on a special project that combines that life-long love with a lifetime of performance -- the development of a musical with me in the lead!

This month's performance is the second phase of a project that began in summer of 2008 as a one-woman musical - and the new version includes a singing, dancing, harp-plucking chorus.

If you're in the Seattle area, join us for the show and informal talk-back session afterwards.  Check out the trailer and jukebox below!  And read on for more about the birth of a new musical.

You got a theater? I got a show!

or ..The Birth of a new Musical

I was so excited!  Would I remember my lines? Would the audience like my new show? I strode onto stage and began the first number. This was my theater debut! I'd written every line of the script, every note of the music – and the auditorium was packed!!   But I wasn't nervous – after all, they were 4th graders – and I was already in the 6th grade.

Thus began my passion for writing musical-theater. 

By my mid-20's, I'd completed and produced 3 musicals and four song cycles.  I'd also started playing the harp professionally. My "Grand Plan" was to use harp-playing income to subsidize my musicals.  And my "Grand Plan" was working!

Then came a bolt out of the blue: Charlie Rose invited me on his show – not as a composer, but as a harpist. Two weeks later I got offered a major record contract.  Boom!  In the space of a month, the trajectory of my life turned like a weather vane in a shifting wind. I became immersed in the life of a touring musician, and the challenge and romance of pioneering a new field – but each success was both sweet and bitter – watching my life as a musical theater writer recede as my success as a performer increased.

That had its advantages. Self-defining as a composer gave me distance from worrying about myself as a performer. Ironically, that helped me become a better performer, since neither success nor failure in that arena cut to the deepest part of my artist-self – and since the "real me," the composer, wasn't at stake, it gave me freedom to worry less about failure – and therefore reach further and just be myself on stage.

But the quintessential fusion of story and music into a full-length story – that art form that most moved me – was floating further and further away. And that really hurt. From time to time I'd reach back, grab the hand of musical theater, and try to pull it closer to me. In the late 90's I wrote a one-woman narrated musical, "The Frog Princess" - and premiered it with the Buffalo Philharmonic. In 2006, my CD-DVD project "Invention & Alchemy" fused story and music in a kind of anthology of musical short-stories.

In 2007, I hit the crisis point. I'd just come off of a huge success as a performer: a Grammy Nomination and my own special on PBS stations around the country. I loved that that project intertwined music and story, but it also highlighted for me that I wasn't really producing musical theater in the way I'd imagined it as a 12-year-old, when I first planned the trajectory of my life.

I knew I needed help.  By myself, I clearly wasn't getting where I wanted to go.  I'd heard there was a group in Boston called the "New Opera and Musical Theater Initiative" (NOMTI).   I contacted them and discovered they'd just started an "Advanced Writer's Lab." I applied, got in, and at long last, turned to face my true love, though she was still a distant speck on the horizon.

The NOMTI "Advanced Writer's Lab" is a group of 12 people – composers, lyricists and book-writers – who meet once a month for 8 intense hours to present, and critique our original works. Each one of us is working on at least one full-length musical or opera in addition to our other jobs as musicians, teachers, theater-composers and the like.  When I joined, I planned to dust off my abandoned projects, revise and produce them, but somehow – and I can't remember how – I got a "New Idea" –  an idea for a new musical that would combine my skills and experience as a performer, and my passion for full-length music-story projects. 

The "New Idea" became a musical called "In the Wings (or: What the Hell are you doing in the Waiting Room for Heaven??)" which is about an After-Life Coach whose job is to mentor new recruits in the Waiting Room for Heaven – only she's so distracted by her own inner demons that SHE needs more coaching than her recruits do.

With the help of NOMTI, I wrote the original script as a one-woman show, and produced it last summer for a two-week run in Cambridge, MA.  In that production, I discovered both strengths of the show (the concept, the music), and some weaknesses ("but.. where's the PLOT??")  – and I went back to the drawing board, reworking the script, presenting it at NOMTI meetings again.

Fast-forward to March 2009. Enter Mark Andersen. Mark is president of the American Harp Society in Seattle, Washington. During a stay at his house last March, one night the conversation turned to musical theater. It turns out that Mark spent years in NYC as Head Arranger for NBC, has written musicals, and shares my passion for the art form. We talked about my new musical, I played him some of the music, and someone (Was it me?  was it him?  Was it his husband, Lynn?) said: "Hey, wouldn't it be funny if this musical had a kick-line of singing, dancing harp-players? Hahaha!"

And suddenly, we all stopped mid-laugh. "You know," Mark said slowly, "we could ... uh ... actually do that.  I mean, I have a theater," (no, I'm not joking, he really said this, just like in the old movies!) "and with all the harpists here in the Seattle area, we could actually put together a singing, dancing, harp-slinging kick-line." 

Well... one thing led to another ... and this coming Friday, October 23 - at 8pm, we'll be mounting a "workshop production" of that show on stage at a Mark's very cool theater in downtown Seattle.  A polished product?  No, this won't be a slick Broadway production, this will be the first steps of a new show – a chance to be at the birth of a new musical.  So if you live near Seattle, or have friends out this way, tell them not to miss this event – and make sure you stay for the informal talk-back session where ... where, who knows, YOUR insight could be the one that changes the play!

BUY TIX NOW for "IN THE WINGS" Fri. Oct. 23rd
You can buy tix for yourself or friends online for the new workshop production of "In the Wings."  Tix are $15 for adults and $10 for anyone under 21.  Daniels Hall is at Marion Ave and 5th in downtown Seattle, with three parking lots within a block or two of the theater. 

Click the tickets at left to buy online right now.  If you want more information about the show, visit the "In the Wings" show page or call Mark Andersen at 425-922-6810


To the 3000+ folks who came out to Pinehills to see my show last month - it was great to see you there!!!   What a spectacular day! ** And for the folks who couldn't get tix for the sold-out Silver Center show in New Hampshire - I'll try to get back your way soon!

After next Friday's production of "In the Wings" I'm hoping to finally have time to focus on getting more of my music down in writing, and available for sale.  My hope is to be release a few more solo pieces by the end of the year, and then focus on preparing music for a series of pieces for harp and chamber ensemble, for debut in Wales in April 2010.  But you can always check my Tour Page for upcoming events.

**I got some wonderful photos of the Pinehills show, but can't include them here because I left the disc at home and I'm in Seattle right now, rehearsing for the musical!


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If you have questions about this E-Newsletter, or comments about a recent show, video or CD cut, drop me a line!  Let me know if you enjoyed the Trailer and the Jukebox. It's always great to hear from you, and though I can't always answer quickly, I do try to get back to you as soon as I can.

SPECIAL THANKS FOR THIS EBLAST CONTENTS TO:  Alex Feldman (, Jonathan Wyner.(, Beatriz Harley (the lovely voice inside the phone at 888-DEB-STUF), and Lynn & Mark Andersen

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