WHY MY NEW MUSICAL IS NOT MY OLD MUSICAL
by John McDonnell Tierney
It would seem there is some confusion about which of my shows is which. Several folks told me they did not go to my 2019 New York show because they assumed it was the same as my previous show from 2016. It wasn’t. And, similarly, my latest musical (2020), is not the same as my previous show from 2019.
Let me explain: Since retiring in 2012, I have written three different musicals. The first was a re-write of a 2001 work, a musical titled “Dreamsinger: The Story of Child Who Dreams.” By 2016, the original script and story had been replaced and the show re-named “Peacemaker: The Dreams of Humanity’s Child.” Much of the original musical score came forward and new music was written as well. Peacemaker was produced in May of 2016 in Hartford with a pro-am cast of eight principles (professional), a sixteen voice chorus (amateur), a children’s choir (amateur) and a seven piece band (professional). In that production I introduced the character and concept of “Humanity’s Child.” In my conceptual framework, Humanity’s Child is, to quote a lyric from my song “Like The Phoenix,” “...not just one child, I am all the children crying out for justice.” Further, the idea is that each and every one of us is humanity’s child, no matter how old or how young. So, the function of the actor who comes to play Humanity’s Child on stage, is to convey the universality of experience of being human. When the cast sings, "You are Humanity's Child," they are saying to each and every individual listener, "You are Humanity's Child!"
The 2016 performance was very well received but, given its huge cast (30+) and the number of musicians required,” Peacemaker” was an impractical property to market or win submissions. Believe me, I tried. And so, in September of 2016 I began re-writing Peacemaker for a smaller cast and a smaller band only to quickly realize that the story was no longer the story I wanted to tell. And so, as has been my practice, I brought forward themes (youthful emergence into the world), and concepts (the Humanity’s Child character) and even some of the songs. The result of two years writing and composing was a new musical titled “Humanity’s Child: A Musical for Today!” This show, as you noted, made it to off-Broadway with an all-female cast of thirteen and, in fact, was nominated for Best Musical in the New York Theater Festival. In the development of this piece, I collaborated with another writer; a woman whom I thought would bring an important perspective, given that all the characters in the show we’re 17 and 18 year old females still struggling with personal identity and classic angst. “Humanity’s Child: A Musical for Today!” opened at The Players in Greenwich Village on August 9th. On August 10th I began writing my current script titled: “Humanity’s Child: A Musical in Five Continuous Acts; Fear – Joy – Action – Mission – Vision.” Granted, a rather long title, but it does summarize the show in five words.
While this new musical does bring forward several songs, it features an entirely different sent of characters and focuses on young adults- educated, competent and capable.
The story now is about what to do with all that education, competencies, and capabilities. Our answer is to speak up for what you know is right and do it from a place of joy and optimism. This is conveyed in an entirely brand new script for 6 to 8 actors as well as some thirty minutes of new songs and updated musical arrangements. We will be recording the full score (78 min. of music) with a professional ensemble over the holidays and anticipate release of an album in late January.
My Humanity’s Child musicals might be seen as analogous to J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Each title begins with “Harry Potter and the _____.” Each new book bring forward characters and themes, but each is “new” and “different” from their predecessors.