Musical tales of secretive pasts and love triangles to be staged

A “powerful tale of legacy and forgiveness” and a play that examines one of the most famous literary love triangles in history have been selected as the next productions of the Yale Institute for Musical Theatre.

“The Last Queen of Canaan,” with book and lyrics by Rebekah Greer Melocik, and “Mrs. Hughes,” with music and lyrics by Sharon Kenny
 and book by Janine Nabers, will be developed in an intensive lab setting June 4-16. Open rehearsal readings of each project — presented as part of the International Festival of Arts & Ideas — will take place on Saturday, June 15 and Sunday, June 16.

Tickets for each open rehearsal reading are $20 and can be purchased online, by phone 203-562-5666, and in person at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas box office, located at the Shubert Theater, 247 College St.

Descriptions of the plays follow:

“The Last Queen of Canaan”

Kay McKenna is an eager young writer hired by the WPA, who travels to Virginia on a mission to collect narratives from former slaves. In Canaan, she meets Cora Skye, a sharecropper who still farms the land she worked as a slave. Each woman wants nothing more than to forget her past.

The play is set in the “deeply haunted and slowly healing South,” note the organizers, where “secrets are unearthed, and past and present collide.” 

“The Last Queen of Canaan” features music by Jacob Yandura. The play is directed by Mark Brokaw with musical direction provided by Matthew Gallagher. The cast includes Bonnie Antosh, Ato Blankson-Wood, Erin Davie, Kecia Lewis, Corey Mach, Aaron Ramey, Nicolette Robinson, Melvin Tunstall, and Carmen Zilies. 

Open rehearsal readings will take place on June 15 at 1 p.m., and June 16 at 5 p.m.

“Mrs. Hughes”

Writer Sylvia Plath yearns for an identity separate from her famous poet husband Ted Hughes. His mistress wants nothing more than to be his wife.

In this work, say the organizers, the characters’ “lives become tangled,” and “each must face the high cost of blindly pursuing love, career, and fame.”

Directed by Kate Whoriskey, “Mrs. Hughes” features musical direction by Zach Dietz. The cast includes Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Monique Bernadette Barbee, Kelli Barrett, Nick Corley, Robert Lenzi, Betsy Morgan, and Eric Morris.

Open rehearsal readings of the play will take place on June 15 at 5 p.m., and June 16 at 1 p.m.

The Yale Institute for Music Theatre is a program of the Yale School of Drama that bridges the gap between training and the professional world for emerging composers, book writers, and lyricists. The institute identifies distinctive and original music theater works by emerging composers and writers. During a two-week summer residency in New Haven, the institute matches the authors of the selected works with collaborators, including professional directors and music directors, as well as a company of actors and singers that includes professionals from New York City and current Yale students. Yale’s Binger Center for New Theatre provides support for the institute. 

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