The Water
Music by Georgia Stitt
Lyrics by Jeff Hylton
Book by Jeff Hylton and Tim Werenko

November 18 at 7:30 PM
November 19 & 20 at 8 PM
November 21 at 2 PM
Trueblood Theatre


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From our Newsletter
A Town Faces Certain Disaster - Together
"The Water" - a new musical about people at risk emotionally and physically when a river floods their town - shall receive its first full-scale production this fall by the Musical Theatre Department in order to help the creators determine if the piece is ready for a commercial production. Georgia Stitt, the respected composer and music director who is the Production Music Coordinator for "Once Upon a Mattress" set to air on "The Wonderful World of Disney" this season, wrote the music with collaborators Jeff Hylton (lyricist and co-librettist) and Tim Werenko (co-librettist).

"It's a book musical," Stitt said. Set in 1997, it's a completely original story about a small Missouri town that survives a flood. It's fiction, but bookwriter Tim Werenko lived through a flood and drew quite a bit from his personal experiences. I write both folky music and groove-driven music," Stitt explains. "Some of it is very lyrical and some of it is more pop. I wouldn't call it 'rock,' but it's definitely a step outside the norms of traditional musical theatre. I grew up outside of Memphis as a classical pianist, so there are hints of the South in the music."

"The Water" was Stitt's idea. "I wanted to write about why people choose to live in places that are devastated by nature, and why people rebuild in those same places knowing they face the possibility of another disaster," she explained. "I wanted to write about the concept of community, particularly in middle-America. This town is situated on the banks of a river that is a tributary to the Mississippi River. It has flooded before, even within memory of some of the older people in town. The river is as much a character in the show as any of the actors, and the idea of 'water' - its presence or its absence - is almost always in the music."




Press Release
UM MUSICAL THEATRE DEPARTMENT PRESENTS A SOLD OUT WORLD PREMIERE OF A NEW MUSICAL - "THE WATER"
Ann Arbor - The University of Michigan Musical Theatre Department presents the premiere of a new musical entitled "The Water." "The Water" plays November 18 at 7:30 PM, November 19 & 20 at 8 PM, and November 20 & 21 at 2 PM at the Trueblood Theatre in Ann Arbor. The show is sold out.

Starting with "A Chorus Line" in 1975, a new process of musical development - the workshop - became the standard in bringing new work to Broadway. The purpose of workshops is largely to help the writers, and often the producers, understand whether the show is ready for commercial production. "The Water" previously workshopped at Theatre Works in Palo Alto, CA. The Musical Theatre Department's full-scale production of the musical provides the next step in the long and detailed process of preparing a new work for commercial success.

Brent Wagner, chair of the Musical Theatre Department and "The Water" states that "staging new works is becoming more and more necessary in a performance training program. After graduation, most Musical Theatre alums participate in readings and workshops of new musicals. We are extremely grateful to the writers of The Water for allowing us to join this important process by collaborating on their new musical here at the University." All of the writers have been closely involved with the Department's production from the start.

"The Water" is written by the team of Georgia Stitt, Jeff Hylton, and Tim Werenko. Composer Georgia Stitt has served as composer in residence for the Tribeca Performing Arts Center in New York City. Also a music director, she is currently the assistant conductor of the Broadway revival of "Little Shop of Horrors" and was the associate conductor of "Encores!" at Lincoln Center. Stitt recently served as Production Music Coordinator for "Once Upon a Mattress" set to air on "The Wonderful World of Disney" this season. Lyricist and book writer Jeff Hylton provided lyrics and co-wrote the book for "The Elephant Man - The Musical," which was performed at the 2001 New York International Fringe Festival. Tim Werenko (book) has directed two feature films, written several screenplays and one novel called "Onkeeton Ghosts." The trio is currently working on another new musical comedy called "The A-Bomb Follies."

"The Water is a book musical," Stitt told Playbill in January 2003. "Set in 1997, it's a completely original story about a small Missouri town that survives a flood. It's fiction, but bookwriter Tim Werenko lived through a flood and drew quite a bit from his personal experiences." The musical was Stitt's idea. "I wanted to write about why people choose to live in places that are devastated by nature, and why people rebuild in those same places knowing they face the possibility of another disaster," she explained. "I wanted to write about the concept of community, particularly in middle-America. This town is situated on the banks of a river that is a tributary to the Mississippi River. It has flooded before, even within memory of some of the older people in town. The river is as much a character in the show as any of the actors, and the idea of 'water' - its presence or its absence - is almost always in the music."

"The Water" is set in a small town along the Onkeenton River. A gentle rain starts to fall as the town gathers for breakfast at the cafe. From the pontificating mayor to the schoolgirl hastily preparing her assignment on dams, the rain is a reminder of past floods and a metaphor for the cycle of life. As the townspeople prepare to fight the rising waters, will their efforts save the town or will the river wash away more than just their homes? In the aftermath of the storm, lives will both be forever changed and remain the same. "The Water" highlights a tight-knit community dealing with everyday life on a floodplain, lived at a price and loved with a passion.

Joining Wagner on the artist team for the production is Cynthia Kortman Westphal as Musical Director/Conductor. Scenic design is by Gary Decker, an assistant professor in the Department of Theatre and Drama. Undergraduate students Taran Muller, costume design, and Andy Fritsch, lighting design, both make their mainstage debut with "The Water."

CAST (Hometown):
Nicholas Ardell (Portland, OR), Joel Bauer (Oak Creek, WI),
Danny Binstock (Potomac, MD), Odin Biron (Duluth, MN),
Alexandra Brock (Houston, TX), Mark Christine (Massillon, OH),
Erika Foss (Madison, WI), Nick Gaswirth (Sherman Oaks, CA),
Bethany Heinrich (San Antonio, TX), Stephanie Layton (Olympia, WA),
Jennifer Lorae (Harrison, NY), Michael Mahoney (Ann Arbor, MI),
Brian Mazzaferri (Glenview, IL), Lorna McGee (Fairmont, WV),
Gregory Royce Pearl (Adrian, MI), Lauren Rosental (Racho Palos Verdes, CA),
Patrice Seibel (St. Clair, MI), Kristin Shields (DeWitt, MI),
John Sloan III (Farmington Hills, MI),
Tessa Waldheger (Westlake, OH), Danny Wedel (Madison, WI)

# # # - Kerianne M. Tupac




Program
Click here to view The Water program as a PDF file




Production Photographs



Kristin Shields as Joan John Sloan III as Will




Cast Cast




Nick Gaswirth as Nicky and Tessa Waldheger as Susan Tessa Waldheger




Erika Foss as Maddy Lorna McGee as Earline




Nicholas Ardell as Sandy Danny Binstock as Lenny and Erika Foss




Michael Mahoney as Slim, Alexander Brock, and Danny Wedel Lauren Rosenthal, Gregory Royce Pearl, and Bethany Heinrich




Danny Binstock Brian Mazzaferri as Harv




Odin Biron as Cecil and Brian Mazzaferri Brian Mazzaferri and Lorna McGee




Nick Gaswirth Stephanie Layton as Rebecca




John Sloan III and Nicholas Ardell Odin Biron


Stephanie Layton and Nicholas Ardell