Gordon Leary

153 posts

Cheer Wars returns!

Cheer Wars will be featured in this summer’s Florida Festival of New Musicals at the Winter Park Playhouse in Winter Park, Florida!

The festival will feature six musicals, presented over four days, June 20-23, 2024.

Read more about the festival and the five other shows here. I look forward to sharing more information about our collaborators and cast soon.

The time has never felt more right to stake a claim for joy, and I’m excited to revisit this project with Karlan almost 17 years (gulp!) after we started writing it!

2023 Wilde Awards

Flint Repertory Theatre’s World Premiere production of The Magnificent Seven has received four 2023 Wilde Awards from Encore Michigan:

Best Teamwork (for the entire case)
Best Lighting Design (Jake DeGroot)
Best Costume Design (Adam Dill)

And Best Musical!

It’s so lovely to be recognized for all that went into the production (the only world premiere musical on the list!) And it’s especially lovely to see some terrific friends recognized for their work on other projects in Michigan: Michael Lluberes (twice!), Bryana Hall, Elexis Morton, and the powerhouse Flint Repertory Theatre with 25 awards for the season.

It’s all a wonderful cherry on top of the most wonderful experience this year!

A first table(t) reading!

As we quickly make our way through a first, rought draft of These Familiar Spirits, Julia and I wanted the chance to hear what we’ve written so far read outloud for the first time… mostly just to make sure it makes sense and we’re on the right track. So we enlisted some of our most trusted friends and collaborators (some stretching back over two decades!) to do a cold reading and see what we have!

Beyond being excited about what we’ve written, tonight was the best reminder that there’s nothing like longstanding collaborations with wonderful actors who know your work and know your heart to make you feel invincible (and not at all embarrassed, which is how I normally feel hearing anything for the first time.) I feel so lucky to have LaRaisha Dionne, Sukari Jones, Allison Lian, Ellen Macy, Allison Posner, Lynne Marie Rosenberg, Libby Servais, and Rich Silverstein as an integral part of my writing and my life!

(And the verdict from the read? These Familiar Spirits is a moooooood. Now back to writing!)

These Familiar Spirits

Julia and I are thrilled that our wonderful friends at Flint Repertory Theatre have commissioned us to write our next musical, These Familiar Spirits!

The musical imagines a reunion of the “afflicted girls of Salem” twenty-three years after the end of the witch trials as they return to Salem Village for the funeral of one of their own. (We like to say that the elevator pitch would be “The Crucible meets The Big Chill.“) The women have to face each other and their shared past and the harms they felt and caused… and probably encounter (or participate in?) some magic along the way!

We’ve been talking about the story and doing research and writing some exploratory songs for the last few years – you may have already heard “I Remember Summer” or “Scar” (starting around 26:30) – but we are so excited to get to work on writing the show itself and digging into a brand new world fully. And we’re even more excited to be doing so with everyone at Flint Rep… It’s an honor to get our first full commission from one of our favorite places!

We’ll be working on the piece over the course of the year with a few developmental steps in Flint and beyond, so keep an eye out for more information soon!

But that is joy, and that is life, and that is me

We stuck the landing! After thirteen wonderful performances, we’re leaving behind the Georgia Dome (for now, we hope.)

Bryana Hall, Hana Slevin, Alex Finke, Amanda Kuo, Phoebe Strole (Photo by Jenifer Veloso)
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And a huge thanks to everyone involved in the production: Director Catie Davis, Choreographer Duane Lee Holland Jr., Associate Choreographer Alvon Reed, and Music Director Jeremy Robin Lyons; cast members Bret Beaudry, Alex Finke, Emi Fishman, Beth Guest, Bryana Hall, Scott Anthony Joy, Amanda Kuo, Mary Paige Rieffel, Hana Slevin, Monica Spencer & Phoebe Strole; stage management team Melissa A. Nathan & Rebecca MacCreery; designers Ann Beyersdorfer, Adam Dill, Jake DeGroot, Matt Otto, and Miranda Hartmann (and their associates/engineers Abbey Wiker, Alex Grindey & Emma Orr); musicians Lucas Perro, Terrence Newman & Russ Sauter; the remarkable Flint Rep Staff of Michael Lluberes, Nicole Samsel, Jesse Glenn, Sasha Dudock, Taja Christine Calhoun, Kendra Babcock & Dave Thompson, and show sponsors Dr. & Mrs. Frederick Van Duyne.

(And special thanks to Cynthia at Minerealm Crystals and everyone at the Flint Farmer’s Market for keeping me grounded and happy the whole time!)

I can’t wait to see what’s next for The Magnificent Seven and I’m so grateful to have had this magnificent opportunity to discover the heart of our musical.