Over at the last of the classy supper clubs, Feinstein’s/54 Below, a Dandelion is growing. This Dandelion will blossom for one night only bringing a new musical to the place where musicals grow best. August 14 at 9:30 p.m. a heartbreaking musical called DANDELION premieres.
The soil behind Dandelion is the story of high school senior, Jane, and her mother, Delilah, and how the two are forced to confront guilt, responsibility, and sacrifice. Jane must decide between attending college or remain at home to fare for her mother who is withering under a desperate battle with mental illness and drug addiction. opioid addiction.
The female-driven Dandelion features music and lyrics by Colleen Francis and Bill Zeffiro, book and direction by Jessica Francis Fichter and Sean Riehm, and has been developed in collaboration with Hailee Beltzhoover. Musical Director, Nevada Lozano guides artists Hailee Beltzhoover, Lillie Ricciardi, Allison Siko, Brenden MacDonald, Brianne Wylie, and Miranda Luze.
Tickets and information are available at www.54Below.com. Tickets on the day of performance after 4:00 are only available by calling (646) 476-3551.
A thru-line of many of this months Five Star Arts articles centers on the creative process. So we grabbed the creatives on how they got that way.
Tell us about yourself.
Director Jessica Francis Fichter: I grew up in Columbia, South Carolina and was always a self proclaimed theatre nerd. I think I feel in love during a school production of Really Rosie when I was five years old- I played a bluebird (and no that is not a real role). After graduating from Winthrop University with a degree in theatre education, I taught theatre in both middle and high school public schools for 8 years in addition to acting as the artistic director of a theatre company in SC before moving to the city to pursue my MFA in directing. I am a mother of 2 small children, 8 years old and 4 years old, and have been navigating the NYC theatre world for 2 years. I recently directed The Eleventh Hour at Townstages, and Assistant directed Shadows: A Dance Musical at the Connelly Theater.
Colleen Francis (Musics/Lyrics): I am a singer-songwriter based out of Dallas, TX. My main experience is with pop and country artists, however, when my sister brought the idea of the Dandelion to me, I jumped at it. I was always into musical theater growing up, and enjoy songs that can cross over to pop/rock charts, namely Rent, Spring Awakening, Dear Evan Hansen, Waitress. I am very excited to bring my experience writing in the pop world to musical theater. Tell us about this play … why did you choose to work on this?
Tell us about this play … your inspirations? Your “plan?”
Director Jessica Francis Fichter: This musical is a story that is close to my heart for many reasons. At its core it’s a story of a young woman finding her own way- forging her own path despite obstacles far beyond what a seventeen year old should be faced with. But as we all know, what should be and what is do not always align. This positive, high school female-driven story of strength is begging to be told and I am grateful to have the chance to tell it. And on a personal note, this is a story of someone I know and love, and the truth of her struggle may be what another family needs to find their way through the labyrinth of mental health and drug addiction. It’s also a story of responsibility and family and what we owe ourselves versus what we owe those closest to us. They are not questions that can be answered in 2 hours but they are certainly worth asking- and I honestly can’t tell you if everyone will agree with Jane’s decision in the end but maybe that is the point.
Colleen Francis (Musics/Lyrics): In college, I had my first brush with the correlation between mental health and drug addiction. Seeing a long-term friend of mine cross into a period of amphetamine-induced psychosis was very difficult to cope with. I was caught between the role of caretaker and instigator. At the time, I didn’t really understand how mental health and drug addiction can be so closely tied, or how they can have profound effects on close relationships. In our musical, we hope to touch on the difficulties of coping with family members who suffer from these conditions.
What is your “creative process”?
Director Jessica Francis Fichter: Working with my sister who is a singer/songwriter in Dallas has been challenging, involving many trips back and forth and late night conversations but it has also been extremely fun to share our creative talents with each other. We are excited to finally have actors in the room, because each individual brings their own perspective and thoughts to the piece and nothing can replace the creative energy of a room full of excited actors collaborating on your work!
Colleen Francis (Musics/Lyrics): I spent a lot of time putting myself back in that place – thinking about the pain and anxiety that it provoked in me – thinking about the struggles that my friend was going through. It honestly puts me in a very emotional place. Throughout the process, inspiration and recovery were two words that kept coming back. I wanted the music to touch on the darkness but maintain the aspect of hope.
Who do you feel is your “audience?”
Colleen Francis (Musics/Lyrics): Anyone who has a friend or family member who has struggled with mental health or addiction… so everyone. The music is certainly more youthful, and younger audiences may connect with it more easily, because of the coming of age aspect.
Director Jessica Francis Fichter: We are hoping to find a lead producer who is excited about the story we are telling and the right fit for the Dandelion team. We are thrilled to follow this journey in whatever direction it takes us. For me personally, I am working on a female driven devising piece called If Women Rose Rooted and finishing my MFA at the Actor’s Studio Drama School.
Colleen Francis (Musics/Lyrics): After this showcase, we’d love to get it on its feet. We need to workshop out the book and the overall flow. We’re taking each step as it comes. It’s a long process, and we want to do what’s best for the whole project.
For further info, visit www.dandelionmusical.com.