Musical tales of witchcraft, pregnancy and creationism to be presented

The true story of a youngster accused of witchcraft, three teenagers who decide to become single mothers together and the collision of faith and science — these are the themes of the three original works that will be honed for the stage at workshops at the Yale Institute for Music Theatre this June.

The institute — headed by Mark Browkaw, artistic director, and Beth Morrison, producer — is a joint venture of Yale’s Schools of Drama and Music. It aims to identify distinctive and original music theater works by emerging writers and composers, and to serve those writers by matching them with collaborators such as directors, music directors, and actors/singers who can help them further develop their work.

This year’s selected works are “Maren of Vardø,” music by Jeff Myers, libretto by Royce Vavrek; “The Pregnancy Pact,” music by Julia Meinwald, book and lyrics by Gordon Leary; and “The Profit of Creation,” music by Tim Rosser, book and lyrics by Charlie Sohne.

The two-week workshops will culminate with readings of each play, which will be presented June 16, 17 and 18 at the Off-Broadway Theatre, 41 Broadway, as part of the 2011 International Festival of Arts & Ideas. The dates and times for each reading are included below. 
Tickets for the readings and receptions are $15 each, and can be purchased online at; by phone at (203) 562-5666; and in person at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas Box Office (Shubert Theater, 247 Chapel St.). Arts & Ideas members and Yale Repertory Theatre subscribers may purchase tickets for $10 each by phone or in person only.

Descriptions of the works follow:
“Maren of Vardø”

“Maren of Vardø” is inspired by the true story of Maren Olsdatter, a 12-year-old girl who lived in Vardø, Norway, in 1663. She was accused of dalliances with the devil shortly after her own mother was burned at the stake. Told that she will continue to be tortured unless she confesses to witchery, Maren claims that she has visited hell and was given a tour by Satan himself.

Directed by Thaddeus Strassberger; music directed by Robert Trevino. Cast: Christopher Burchett, Cherry Duke, Helen Gabrielsen, Stephanie Joiner, Solange Merdinian, Andrew Nolan and Lisa Williamson.
Readings: Thursday, June 16, at 4 p.m.; Friday, June 17, 7 p.m.

“Pregnancy Pact”

Fifteen-year-old Brynn and her three best friends make a pact to become single mothers together and raise their children together in a shared dream of the perfect life. Their pact grows as other young girls equally disenchanted with their lives begin to find out and want in. What starts as a utopian quest quickly turns complicated as the youths get closer and closer to parenthood. “Pregnancy Pact” is a hard-hitting pop-rock musical about the harsh realities of love, responsibility and growing up in teenage America.

Directed by Mark Brokaw; music directed by Vadim Feichtner. Cast: Krystina Alabado, Bonnie Antosh, David Baghat, Andrew Durand, Eryn Murman, Libby Servais, Allie Trimm and Remy Zaken.

Readings: Thursday, June 16, 7 p.m.; Saturday, June 18, 1 p.m.

“The Profit of Creation”

A liberal scientist takes a bribe from a right-wing organization and heads up the “Creation Museum” in Kentucky. This deal becomes complicated when he falls in love, makes promises he can’t keep and becomes deeply connected to a family with whom, at first glance, he has nothing in common. “The Profit of Creation” is a story about the collision of science and faith, and what happens when one man strikes a bargain between the two with a price that is just too high to keep.

Directed by Evan Yionoulis; music directed by Chris Fenwick. Cast: Danny Binstock, Allison Fischer, Manu Narayan, Blake Segal, Christopher Shyer, Sally Wilfert.

Readings: Friday, June 17, 4 p.m.; Saturday, June 18, 4 p.m.

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