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The Northern Skies SOUVENEIR BRO

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THE NORTHERN SKIES an Original Musical

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Production photos from the Vassar College Drama Departmental Archives

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THE NORTHERN SKIES Conceptual Overview 1 PART I PRODUCTION AND DESIGN Something Has Begun 3 Creating a new work with Emily Drossell and George Luton Picture What Lies in Store 8 Directing the project with Allison Breeze Can You See the Glow 9 Lighting the show with Leo Hilton To the Top of the World 10 Constructing the set with Omri Bareket For Your Disguises 11 Designing costumes with Mollie Lipkowitz Listen to Me 12 Managing the stage with Lindsay Matheos an Original Musical PART II PERFORMING THE WORK To Complete the Perfect Partnership 15 Emily Drossell as Captain Hope Goodwell Raphe Gilliam as Professor John Clarke Good Enough Whether They re On Our Side 21 Charles Mangan as Valere Deciel Jacqui Anders as Madame Lucretia Capitaux Let This Be a Lesson They Hate Us Just the Same 25 Bryan Smith as Ambrose Gracie Nayman as Ariane I Wish I Had the Words Let Me Lead You Back Whence We Began 29 Abigail Goldman as The Adventurer Eli Wassertzug as The Savant Sami Hodes as The Trapper Take My Hand

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CONCEPTUAL Plot This story tells of an inventor and her colleague who venture to the frozen wasteland at the top of the world to research the arctic circle s prehistoric inhabitants hoping that they may discover the secret to these creatures immunity from the epidemic that is plaguing their city They convince an investor to join them and assemble a crew with tangled histories Haunted by figures from their intertwining past the members of this expedition wrestle with capital interest scientific absolutism and spiritual fulfillment as they encounter both precious minerals and deadly plagues entrapped within the ice and the northern lights shine overhead OVERVIEW Living Characters Captain Hope Goodwell an inventor engineer and pilot late 20s Professor John Clarke Hope s older colleague a research biologist 40s Madame Lucretia Capitaux a wealthy widowed investor 50s Valere Deciel a servant of Madame Capitaux formerly apprenticed to her late husband mid 20s Ambrose a young man trying to escape his family s poor reputation due to their spiritual beliefs early 20s Ariane sister to Ambrose maintains strong connection to the spiritual otherworld mid teens Deceased PLACE The city of Avance and unexplored arctic territories to the north TIME Three days voyage 1 Adventurer Hope s mother lost on a northern expedition 30s Savant Monsieur Capitaux murdered by his wife 50s Trapper father to Ambrose and Ariane executed by authorities 40s 2

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Something Has Begun Emily Drossell librettist George Luton composer Both writers for The Northern Skies still marvel at how a brand new science fiction musical was mounted in such a brief span of time George Luton the composer for the project began conceiving of the fantastical storyline complete with a soaring airship a threatening disease and vengeful murder in the summer of 2017 That fall he began working with Emily Drossell to flesh out the storyboard before they both set the piece aside for a year to make way for other projects Late in 2018 they began work again collaborating to create a few demo songs for a reading in December at the Experimental Theatre of Vassar College s Streep Studio which granted the piece the approval it needed to be mounted the following April We were both so grateful for the opportunity said George so we spent all of January finishing incomplete songs drafting the script and reworking story elements that needed help There was so much to do To George one of the most interesting opportunities the work provided was its lack of historicized placement It was really exciting building the world from the ground up with some basis in historical societies said George I mean Avance is completely made up but its blend of English and French culture and cool climate suggest a resemblance to Newfoundland or Labrador up in Canada We also scripted in a steampunk aesthetic because of how Avance and its research university conform to positivist scientific theories developed and appraised in the Victorian Era Emily noted that by constructing this progress oriented society from scratch the class hierarchies created could be determined not by gender sexuality or race but rather by utility Hope being an exceptional engineer and pilot shares a similar status at the university to that of John while both Ambrsoe and Ariane living in a spurned community outside of Avance and possessing no skills that the city finds worthy share the lowest status of any one on the ship George described how the complex web of characters fit together schematically within the cultural context he and Emily developed All nine of them fit into these interlocking triangular relationships he said We meet three trios at the play s beginning Hope John and the ghost of Hope s mother form one group representing the university with names of British origin La Capitaux her dead husband and their servant Valere hail from a high French culture and the last family unit consisting of Ambrose Ariane and their deceased father bears names that lie somewhere in between French and English in spelling and pronunciation Personal alliances and rivalries form across these boundaries consistently over the play until at the end there is only one survivor from each original group The three of them then have to make do with what they have with the hope that they will make it out of the Arctic Circle alive Interpersonal relationships were also a concern of Emily s I was very conscious of the way in which the female characters were defined by the men in their lives she recalled Both Hope and Ariane are heavily influenced by paternal figures Hope having John and Ariane the spirit of her departed father and Capitaux until recently has felt trapped by her husband I wanted to make sure that these women did not have to rely on their interplay with patriarchal figures in order to articulate themselves to the audience but rather had enough substance and motivation to establish a character outside of any interpersonal dynamic 3 4

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Creating a cohesive score for this show was a bit di cult George remembers I wanted the older villainous characters to tap into a Neo Victorian vibe with more contemporary musical theater pop for the younger characters Putting together the orchestration was the next challenge reconciling the string ensemble with the rock band throwing trumpet and flute into the mix for color The wild combination of instruments though was critical for unifying the variation on genre I was tapping into spanning over a hundred years of historical time Any one of over a hundred billion stars can point us the way If you set a course by starlight you won t go astray As bizarre as it may seem just as there is a place for a soaring string countermelody or brass hit in a pop song there is room for an electric guitar within the contexts of nineteenth century symphonic and folk pastiche with varying allowance for distortion and warmth With a drummer taking on auxiliary percussion and mallets and a bass player switching between electric bass guitar and contrabass our band could seamlessly bridge the challenging diversity of genres I scored From the emotional nuances brought to the lyrics by the actors to a score enriched by a full orchestra this show was given a life that can t exist on the page said Emily It is honoring and humbling to see how much support the story received enabling it to touch many people 5 6

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If it weren t for me we wouldn t be in the air I ll have a say in where we go from here Picture What Lies in Store Allison Breeze director Though she has directed excerpts and scenes from larger works Allison Breeze has never before directed a whole piece by herself startto finish until encountering this production While The Northern Skies would likely pose a challenge to any seasoned director with its constantly revolving plot and nearly through composed score Allison took to the project with alacrity I was extremely excited to direct a new work and was especially glad to have worked with the creators in the development stage so I better understood the framework that created the text and music she said In weaving the scenes together in order to convey a fully cohesive story Allison was conscientious of the fact that it is such a humanmotivated show we see the cycle between motivation action result and new motivation play out in front of the audience and all of that comes from the characters themselves so it made sense to really focus on the individual stories being told within the collective story of the journey Considering this she added we were lucky enough to have such a focused cast and crew because it meant that I could trust them all to be doing their best work and that their first instincts were almost always spot on 7 8

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I m here to help you Please let me help you

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Can You See the Glow To the Top of the World Leo Hilton master electrician Omri Bareket technical director Lighting designer Leo Hilton used approximately 250 lighting sources for The Northern Skies 72 of which were strip lights used to illuminate the cyclorama leaving about 180 instruments to light the stage and the scenery Almost 50 of these were dedicated to colored low angle sidelight which served as primary illumination an abnormality in most theatrical lighting plots However Leo found that this illumination coming predominantly from the sides of the stage creates strong contouring shadows that distort the human form I complemented this with high angled sidelight as well to soften hard edged shadows and provide visual definition between the actors and the set These techniques reflect Leo s e ort to serve the text in his design I understood the story of The Northern Skies as one where science and technology collide with spirituality and class struggle I did my best to capture and accentuate these themes using lighting techniques to highlight the highly dramatic and dynamic qualities of the music text and action It was of little surprise to Leo that the most di cult part of his job would be the creation of the aurora borealis e ect so critical to the narrative After experimenting for a few weeks with projections which failed to capture the desired magnitude of the phenomenon Leo settled upon relatively simple techniques including colored faceted glass gobos cast onto a rippling curtain 11 From the moment I was brought onto this project I was most excited by the prospect of the process both creatively and technically says Omri Baraket set designer and technical director for The Northern Skies Our initial conversations planted a central theme of height in my design thinking Omri was tasked with the challenge of creating an airship the Vita Nova the play s central setting I put my e orts into creating a space that served as the Vita Nova s interior but could also evoke the vast arctic outdoors Moreover as the story takes place in multiple sections of the ship as well as the outdoors the space needed to accommodate the dynamic structure of the musical The set construction crew was put to task with many unique technical design processes incorporating metal work fine carpentry and abnormal rigging to construct the custom frame for the airship Omri also implemented set electrics and detailed set dressing which illuminated di erent parts of the ship with practical lighting Most of our scenery came recycled or repurposed materials and scenery says Omri The grate in the floor the engine the sca olding sections the window the gears the skylight the bridge and the entire platform upstage were all repurposed for this production or were constructed with repurposed materials fitting for the play s environmentalist and anti consumerist stance 12

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For Your Disguises Listen to Me Mollie Lipkowitz costume designer Lindsay Matheos stage manager Mollie Lipkowitz was immediately taken by the script s steampunk aesthetic I think starting from a place of creation and fantasy which came from that steampunk mindset allowed me and the rest of the design team to explore choices that aren t available when doing more traditional period pieces she said We had the option to design and shape our own universe in a way that isn t available when presenting a story grounded in fact The six principle characters each had two costumes one for each act in order to execute a color shift into starker tones to reflect the growing murkiness of the plot As such Mollie had a total of fifteen looks to design pulling each one o with distinctive flair and complete capability Linsday Matheos has been the singular person holding The Northern Skies together since the production s process began in February of 2019 As stage manager she and her assistant Jessie Marasco keep track of every single element of the show from scheduling rehearsals and meetings to music copying to calling every cue for light sound and set changes during the performances Stage management is a tricky business and as Lindsay notes you end up doing so many things that are just not your job and that you don t have time for I spent at least twelve hours a day running around working on the show but probably only half of that was actual stage management work One of the additional responsibilities Lindsay picked up was sound design and she put together over 150 cues most of which never made it into the production I had a lot of sound thoughts early on as the set was developing she said since it s a unit set I was interested in the way subtle changes in atmosphere could signal changes in space These atmospheric subtleties were intended to emphasize the interior hum of an airship in contrast to the desolate arctic landscape After becoming familiar with the score however Lindsay found it necessary to simplify the design saying We found that most of what we wanted to say with the sound design was already written into the music and underscoring Lindsay is overall happy with how the work turned out in spite of the restrictions on the production My whole experience on this show has been reinforcing the idea that if you want something you will find a way With our tiny budget and limited resources we put on a huge production and broke down a lot or barriers that many productions here face just because we were persistent and creative 13 14

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We re the first crew to happen upon This queer corner of the map It s a new frontier

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TO COMPLETE THE Emily Drossell as Captain Hope Goodwell As both a librettist and a performer for the production Emily Drossell found that playing Hope became part of her writing process I was never fully able to make a clean move from writer to actor but in a way the rehearsal room was the environment I needed in order to finish writing the show For instance it was once I began playing Hope that I understood how she needed to be fleshed out Because she needs the audience s sympathy and support for the show to be successful I did everything I could to bring justice to the role PERFECT PARTNERSHIP Raphe Gilliam as Professor John Clarke In preparing for the role of John Raphe Gilliam considered the professor s relationship to his colleague Hope throughout the play In the ten years since John killed her mother Hope has become not just a reminder of the woman that he betrayed but a focal point of reparations and so as they embark upon this voyage together his pride for Hope s accomplishments dominates his conscious thought Over the course of the show however greed and remorse overcome John and begin to override his personal attachments Trying to place Hope directly in the world of steampunk Mollie dressed Emily Drossell in a long coat and boots While she initially intended to provide goggles for all of the characters who exited the ship and ventured into the arctic wasteland they were found to be obstructive and scrapped Mollie costumed Raphe Gilliam as John Clarke in strictly Victorian garb comparing him to a gentleman scientist of the era able to afford peak fashion regardless of its impracticality The spectacles aged him demarcating him as Hope s senior in rank experience and academic standing 17 18

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My biggest concern with Hope was that she would exist only to react to the plot points revealed to her by other characters said Emily I wanted her voice to be more than a reminder that their mission was led astray and so focused on finding her personal stakes in this journey She so desperately wants to do the right thing for her city for her mother s memory and struggles to uphold her ideals and conviction when her closest friend John suddenly turns on her She is torn and confused but never loses sight of what is right which sets up an internal struggle Additionally she has repressed a lot of painful memories concerning the death of her mother and as more obstacles stand in the way of living up to her legacy and as Hope and John s relationship deteriorates Hope must reckon with her grief on her own Recognizing these struggles within Hope and the emotional toll this journey takes on her was a turning point for me in terms of playing the character Hope accepts some of the standards of Victorian life but she wears silhouettes and colors that fall much later in the period if at all said Mollie It was through Hope s design that Mollie began departing from historical accuracy as a specific means of indicating a character s youth The character of John undergoes a particular challenge in dealing with the e ects of the bacteria Bacillus treyocis which he contracts prior to the events of The Northern Skies by mining the precious mineral recherch on the Capitaux estate This process also releases the disease to Avance s agricultural centers which decimates regional livestock Symptoms of the Nousomagitis John experiences include self imposed isolation uncharacteristic aggression erratic behavior and eventual death As the plot progresses John becomes increasingly destructive most notably in his secret sabotage of the Vita Nova s engine which brings the ship down upon an unstable glacial structure all for the sake of giving John a chance to mine more recherch INFECTION I ve seen what s waiting below And I m determined to go But can t let anyone know I m going to bring it down Before suspicions arise We will be far from the skies And I ll have gathered my prize If I can bring it down There s so much at stake And so much to take That waits underground But if we can t agree It will be all up to me So time to try it and see Whatever happens When I bring it down Raphe speaks to the complexities of Hope and John s interactions saying their relationship at the beginning reads as publicly friends and peers John does a lot to impress upon others that Hope s work stands out on its own merit and that she is a leader in her own right In private John takes on a more advisory role As the show progresses both of these aspects of their relationship turn sour and John speaks to Hope not as a peer but a subordinate and manipulating her through his position as her mentor 19 20

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Have faith and trust in yourself Believe in how accomplished you are Cause you have all that it takes to take you far And it s clear to me there s no one else With whom I d rather see this through So stop second guessing yourself The song Good Enough establishes Cause you know just what to do Hope and John s relationship Your words of encouragement While inspiring Might not help Suppose we find that I m not good enough You say I m exceptional But maybe your affection s made you blind What if I m not everything you dreamed I d be today Good Enough showing the deep trust between the two characters Hope confides in John regarding her doubts about this mission and her capabilities and John reciprocates by offering her assurance and comfort Hope s thematic motif constantly questions whether she is good enough while John s responses consistently bring her up telling her try not to limit yourself and please believe in yourself Good Enough is musically reprised at John s death Deluded he sees The Adventurer when he looks at Hope and confesses to her his shame for his recklessness that caused her death At this point John is full of doubts and fears feeling immense guilt for everything he has done Hope speaks as her mother trying to console him horrified at both the truth of John s past as well as the sight of her mentor dying before her eyes from a disease he acquired through greed Hope s never forgotten you And I ve stayed right by her side Even though I wasn t good enough I swore that I d see her through as best I could And somehow let you know She came to be everything you dreamed she d be and more 21 Unbeknownst to Hope this song is the first indication of John s malice and greed as he manipulates Hope into redirecting their course to a site where he is positive he will uncover recherch The encouragement he gives her however is real though he has already broken their trust by keeping his aims a secret from her Raphe identified this as the initial point of John s moral weakening seen in the musical choosing the moment to launch the character s inner conflict In the moments before John s death their roles are reversed Hope tells John don t be so hard on yourself and forgives him for his many mistakes and failures John in turn confesses to his friend the Adventurer that he was not good enough to have the privilege of watching her daughter grow into the person she has become and with his dying breath expresses his great admiration for Hope The Adventurer helps him cross to the otherworld Don t be so hard on yourself It s true you made mistakes in the past But it s time that you forgave yourself at last Since I know the kind soul I admire Is still inside the man I see Though you ve lost sight of yourself You will not lose sight of me 22

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WHETHER THEY RE Charles Charlie Mangan as Valere Deciel Jacqui Anders as Madame Lucretia Capitaux Charlie Mangan found that the most di cult part of playing Valere was finding in this flirty character a coolness and suaveness He remarks While I do feel that I embody a lot of the aspiring young scientist that Valere is his ambiance and way of carrying himself around is not like mine I ve always wanted to play a villain says Jacqui Anders who plays Madame Capitaux and she was a bonus because she s an extra challenge Not only evil but also murderous and classist Valere however is far from shallow and in the play s darkest hour at the conclusion he is able to rise to the occasion to comfort and lead his fellow survivors distraught from having lost the only family they had left The story takes him through a dynamic character arc as he discovers the truth behind the death of his kind and generous mentor and a depth to his romantic love Mollie considered Valere to be of the younger steampunk flavored generation that Hope exuded and thus costumed Charles Magnam with a combination of Victorian articles and anachronistic pieces from later decades 23 ON OUR SIDE As Valere s servitude to the Capitaux estate was a defining feature of his costume Mollie considered how the earthiness of the Savant and the classconsciousness of the Madame interacted to create his uniform As a character Madame Capitaux embodies the systems of oppression that subjugated the largely impoverished laboring proletariat class to the bottom of the capitalist hierarchy during the industrial revolution The a uence of the bourgeoisie was justified through the presumption that their socioeconomic prosperity resulted from their respectable way of life and standards of propriety Mollie put together the most extravagant and Victorian costume on stage for Madame Capitaux played by Jacqui Anders She understands what appearance can do for power she said The deep purple corresponds to that which John wears in the second act visually revealing their scheming relationship and mutual goals Though introduced in a full skirt an essential means of emphasizing her class the fight choreography that Capitaux is required to perform in Act II including two murders and her own death required a costume change Mollie devised a second outfit with elegant harem pants still referential to the Edwardian period but enabling Jacqui to accomplish all of her staging safely 24

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Jacqui elaborates on her process of developing her character saying from the very beginning I made it my priority to make Capitaux human As she stands on the page she doesn t have many redeeming qualities and it s hard to see her as a sympathetic character But as the actor portraying her I knew it was my job to like her because I had to understand where she was coming from in order to make her truthful and as powerful of as a character as I knew she was written The fact that Jacqui was the first ever to play this role added an additional exciting challenge to her work The onus was on me to make this villainous murderer come to life in a way that would make her real and truthful in this brand new world And that was so exciting I got to make her entirely my own build her from scratch and pour myself into her in a way that actors playing alreadyexisting characters often cannot Let this Be a Lesson is one of the show s most dramatic pieces sung by Madame Capitaux at the beginning of the second act It begins as a lesson for Valere warning him not to trust Ambrose or Ariane in spite of Valere s growing fondness for Ambrose However soon Capitaux s words lead her down into the depths of her own memory as she recalls giving similar advice to herself as she resisted the wishes of her husband to prevent disruption of wildlife on their land His restrictions upon her grow too much for her to bear and in the final moments of the song she addresses the Savant in rage proclaiming that she is worthy of so much more than this role you want me to play and kills him with the Trapper s snare diverting the blame 25 The piece is in an asymmetrical 5 4 meter subverting the traditional nineteenth century waltz said George so while it maintains a sense of class it is unbalanced vengeful Jacqui found that this song in particular enabled her to unlock aspects of Capitaux that she would otherwise have difficulty finding She fights to stay in control in every social situation and through her entire life so those moments of song gave me a window into the underlying motivations and emotions that she often fights so hard to hide Jacqui noted Let This Be a Lesson Let this be a lesson All power comes at a price It s a tireless uphill climb Let this be a lesson On what you must sacrifice I promise you ll learn in time Let this be a lesson The world knows not wrong from right Let this be a lesson There re times to put up a fight Let this be a lesson from me Your beloved wife Let this be a lesson You re just one more worthless life This will teach you That no one will stand in my way 26

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AND THEY HATE US Bryan Smith as Ambrose The fact that I was originating a role didn t really dawn on me until very late in the process confesses Bryan Smith who plays Ambrose I just went with the story from the start This is Avance We re on a ship I have a sister and secret Let s take it from there Ambrose definitely has a lot of duality going on in his head says Bryan referring to the character s conflicting concern for his sister his budding romance with Valere and his secretive past but I think the bottom line is that he wants Ariane to be safe He just loves her so much and I really leaned into that as the justification for his actions throughout Ambrose played by Bryan Smith and Ariane portrayed by Gracie Nayman are the characters most removed from the technologically advanced steam powered city of Avance Mollie dressed them in in earth tones focusing on textured layers of leather which served functional purpose in both the world and in the performance As the plot progressed these layers are stripped away as the carefully concealed secret of Ambrose and Ariane s identity becomes exposed to the whole crew 29 JUST THE SAME Gracie Nayman as Ariane Out of all of Ariane s qualities Gracie Nayman most appreciates the her unfailing hopefulness She can always find the good in people Usually characters with her same innocence are also ignorant but Ariane is the most honestly aware person on the expedition and only one who has access to the magical realm of the aurora While she may be innocent she possesses wisdom beyond her years Gracie notes that the music helped her find her character saying that the ethereal nature of her melodies helped me to comprehend how Ariane exists in and connects to multiple worlds in the same moment Considering how Gracie keels over into the orchestra pit upon Ariane s untimely murder Mollie concerned herself with ensuring that her loose flowing clothing appropriate to the character would not interfere with the safety of this challenging stunt which Gracie noted was incomparably the most thrilling spectacle I have ever executed in front of an audience I loved it I d also like to assure that I felt completely safe during the entirety of the experience which I am grateful for 30

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I Wish I Had the Words I wish I had the words to help you see I wish you didn t feel so alone I know you re scared but please remember You can rely on me You re not on your own With Valere Ambrose is frantic and a little goofy but totally smitten says Bryan With Ariane the love comes from a di erent place it s so fierce so protective that it takes on an intensity that gets quite dark Seeing that range throughout the show really illustrated Ambrose s capacity for love and I really admire that I Wish I Had the Words is the only pure love song in The Northern Skies says George It s about the kind of unconditional love that bonds chosen family even in the hardest of times and amidst the most hurtful arguments Ariane and Ambrose experience this kind of connection to one another and Hope tries to find it in John who fails her not only as a colleague and friend but as an adopted father It is also through this song that Valere sees that what Ambrose needs after the loss of his sister is not a romantic lover but support and constancy I don t know if there s a way I can get through to you There is nothing left that I can say And I wonder if you re right Perhaps it s me who s lost my way To Bryan the most distinctive opportunity that came with playing Ambrose compared to other characters he has played is the romantic subplot I d never done an onstage kiss Never had the opportunity to portray a queer relationship Had hardly ever seen someone that looks like me and loves like me shown as desirable onstage So as a black gay man it was really special for me to change that And I was really fortunate to have an amazing scene partner in Charlie with whom to navigate it all According to Allison the reason the love story was so adored by the audience was because their characters had defining personality traits outside of their relationship to each other They re two likable engaging people who happen to fall in love I wish I had the words to comfort you I wish I knew just what to say But we don t have to have the answers So till you see this through By your side I ll stay I wish I had the words to make it right I wish that I could let you know That though I ve failed to hear you I d give everything to reunite I won t let you go 31 32

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We re o on a journey We re facing the future There s no need to live in the past anymore

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LET ME LEAD YOU BACK For all of the ghosts Mollie used different shades of white and cream saying this was not only to give them depth but also to leave open the possibility to use lighting to change their appearance Mollie used Costuming Abigail Goldman as The Adventurer Mollie echoed the steampunk look exhibited by Hope Though initial plans included culottes to give the costume some historical distance from the show s Victorianism and decorations to suggest military experience these ideas were let go for the sake of a cleaner simpler design Abigail Goldman as The Adventurer In the world of The Northern Skies the spirits of the otherworld do not speak but rather sing to the living people who remember them Abigail Goldman who plays The Adventurer recalls I had to make sure that what I was singing told a story and took the place of spoken lines Through physicality vocal dynamics and gesture Abigail took on the challenge The context for The Adventurer s manifestation in the story motivated Abigail s expressive specificity Because The Adventurer is an inspiration and guiding force for Hope and a symbol of guilt for John making sure there was a dichotomy between the ways I interacted with the two of them was something I really focused on Even though dead The Adventurer has a narrative arc through the story She feels vengeful towards John for being so reckless as to cause her death and this resentment won t allow her to move on until she can find a way to forgive him Abigail says In guiding her daughter throughout this journey she is able to find closure for Hope John and herself 35 WHENCE WE BEGAN Eli Wassertzug as The Savant The ghosts in The Northern Skies though distant from the living beings they shadow are themselves very human as Eli Wassertzug noticed in his portrayal of The Savant It s not very interesting to watch someone play a totally removed and ascended being he says and it s impossible to play that anyways I m not and have never been omniscient Thus Eli found his character more directly through his very human objectives He describes these as the desires that The Savant wanted to see manifested regardless of his actual ability to make that happen such as the hope that Madame Capitaux is justly punished for her crimes or that Valere is protected This approach enabled Eli to organically develop relationships between The Savant and the other characters in the Capitaux household Finding the fatherly a ection for Valere and genuine love for but total misunderstanding of the Madame came through the rehearsal process naturally says Eli This ease was also partially due to the nature of The Northern Skies as a new work Not having any previous performances to refer to was scary but freeing Eli confesses originating a role was a great new experience for me I m so happy to have been a part of this show Keeping in mind that in this story spirits manifest from the glow of the aurora borealis Mollie created a preliminary design that wove the northern lights into the material of the ghost s costumes Upon meetings with other designers however she settled for using off whites that would provide a neutral surface upon which to project colored lighting Mollie dressed Eli Wassertzurg as The Savant in strictly period daywear appropriate to his age and high rank 36

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Those who ve left can always cross to you when lights emerge Sami Hodes as The Trapper I always thought of The Trapper as a humble leader says Sami Hodes who plays this benevolent yet mysterious spiritual guide He s at peace with his existence and tries to help others reach a similar acceptance According to Sami The Trapper remained behind after death for the sake of helping his children Ariane and Ambrose He s trying to connect with them encouraging them to continue on their journey and maintain hope 37 HAUNTINGS Throughout the show the ghosts are invoked by the characters either as shadowy presences that sing in tandem with the living or in sharp flashbacks These brief moments of pure memories are the only times the spirits engage in dialogue with no musical underscore Such instances contrast the times that either through imagination reflection or mental deterioration the presence of these ghosts becomes palpable to the living characters As the expedition grows closer to the top of the world the past and its haunting figures become more apparent eventually illuminated by the aurora borealis shining overhead Mollie costumed Sami Hodes as The Trapper in purely functional work clothes like his children without concern for placing him in a particular historical era The centerpiece of the costume is the starshaped pendant of carved wood inlaid with a small gemstone Take My Hand When the dark of evening falls And you are left to roam You will hear the gentle calls That will guide you home When at last you have the chance To let your spirit dream You will see the moonlight dance On a silver stream Take my hand And we l fly far as we can Take my hand Let me lead you back whence we began When the wrath of winter brings Your journey to an end You will hear how morning sings When the stars descend When your final breath is gone Dissolving into haze You will see a blinding dawn Set the world ablaze Take my hand And we l fly far as we can Take my hand Let me lead you back whence we began When it s time for you to face The heartache of the past You will feel the sky s embrace Once you re home at last The show s first moments are dominated by the spirit world beginning with song Take My Hand a chorale of ethereal disembodied voices singing to a bewildered cautious and lost soul and helping her to reach the other side After the first chorus the Northern Lights appear as they will again only during the finale to bookend the show and the lone soul finds herself as The Adventurer ready to take her place as a guide for others who have departed She begins to sing the melody that welcomed her bringing on The Savant and The Trapper who both find themselves and their place in the song the offstage voices growing ever louder and overwhelming In writing this piece George took a modal approach For this show I considered modality as a part of this spirit world he said Take My Hand is a mixolydian melody with a lowered seventh contrasting the modality of Ariane s song The Light Beyond which has a verse section in lydian with a raised fourth that brings it a sharp brightness Both of these modes are one alteration away from the major ionian mode but different in quality To me their commonalities reflect their similar peace with the prospect of death while their differences exhibit the singers stratified positions on either side of life and death a distinction that is blurred throughout the show This modal material contrasts with the modulatory tonally chromatic pieces sung by Madame Capitaux and John the more villainous characters who don t in the course of the show come to terms with death like the other characters living and dead 38

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There will be an answer Trust in me

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