There were two little kids who lived in a little town in Idaho. They went to their first day of kindergarten together, lived right next door to each other and did almost everything together. They drew pictures, played dress up, made crafts, rode bikes, had birthdays..... and made music.
Flash forward to high school. The two teenagers were still the best of friends and still making music. Alison was highly involved in piano and theatre, singing and dancing. Caleb was already learning to write music and working for his church as a musician and singer. Neither of them were the most popular or most noticed kids at school. Art and music were their lives and their emotional outlets. One day in health class (because they paid SO much attention in school obviously) Alison had brought a copy of the Into the Woods score with her as she was doing a production of it and showed it to her friend.
"We could do this" said Caleb.
"Do what?" asked Alison.
"Write a musical!" Caleb exclaimed...and so in a nutshell, they did! Started right there in fact...
Caleb says we were watching 'Sybil' at the time while learning about mental health. I don't remember that, but I do remember opening a blue notebook (which we still have!) and writing down the first ideas that came to us. And boy did the ideas come....organically in fact. We look back and laugh because we honestly have NO clue what would prompt two 16 year olds to choose the subject matter we did. Our show to this day retains most of the original ideas written down that day in health class. I don't even remember the teacher's name....but will be eternally grateful to her for not noticing us NOT paying attention whatsoever!
We crafted an original story about an interracial couple (Martha and Cyrus) living in the Civil War era. Him a black slave, her a young white girl of privilege. They meet in Georgia, fall in love and escape to Pennsylvania. They have a son together, Joshua, and Cyrus is caught by slave catchers and dragged back down south leaving Martha and Joshua alone with nothing. Pretty dark stuff huh?? It gets better! But I won't spoil the whole story just yet...
It would seem a daunting task for two teens who weren't exactly the loudest or most noticed to get anyone to take them seriously or help with putting a project like this together at the time. Luckily for us, I had a mother who believed in our talent and encouraged us to go forward with it. We wrote every day. And we slowly assembled a cast of local singers and actors (whom to this day I will be forever grateful for) who for whatever reason believed in us as well. Almost two dozen original songs and one very maturely themed original story and libretto later, we had a show.
We named it 'Freedom's Song'. It was honestly the only name we thought was fitting as it covers a very broad spectrum of what we feel are basic human freedom's that EVERYONE should be entitled to. We told the story with multiple interwoven characters and story lines in a show that for us was anything BUT a 'period piece' but more of a human rights tale spun within an era rife with angst and drama! Because what 16 year old isn't rife with angst and drama right? All our characters reflect something in our lives then....and now years later after we've revised the show, reflect even more of ourselves in them....but I digress.... Back to 'before' (can anyone name that brilliant show? Lol!)
By the time we were seniors, we had the show finished and were well into production of a concert version in full costume with some wonderful and talented people helping us.
While most seniors think about prom and homecoming and parties we thought about rehearsing, writing, polishing, costumes and advertising.
We achieved our goal and opened the show in concert TWICE. Once in Idaho and once in Utah. I look back on what we did and it still makes me quite giggly that we actually pulled it off. Our cast was wonderful, our audiences were receptive and supportive and seemed to genuinely enjoy what we had produced. For two quiet kids with nothing but their passion for music and art driving them, it was beyond exhilarating.
|The men of the original cast|
|Thom Spencer will always be our villain 'Jeremiah'|
|The entire original concert cast.|
We even did a few really sketchy recordings for our own records....thankfully really,
as they are GREAT fun to laugh at now!
And of course, none of it would have happened without a supportive mother pushing us on and telling us our dreams are worth chasing and helping us believe in ourselves. So glad she did....thanks mom.....
And now years later, here we are. New York City and a little over a month away from this same show having it's first concert reading (for those of you not sure what that is, it's minimal cast, no costumes, read and sung in full with script for a live audience) hopefully for people who will help take it to the next level. But more on that later.... Right now we're still those two young kids, wide eyed with dreams of Broadway and letting it motivate them to literally EVERYTHING we've done in our careers thus far. And so it comes full circle...15 years later. I'm so glad we didn't let those enthusiastic, wide eyed kids down. They would be SO excited about all of this.
|Our now selves with our then selves...right around the time we started writing the show.|