musical to be
performed during Bicentennial
musical written by
Seymour composer Moman
Lela Jane Bradshaw
(January 2009) The Dec. 6 Madison Christ-mas
Parade offered area residents a sneak peek at the upcoming River-town
musical being written as part of the Madison Bicen-tennial celebration,
to be held in 2009. Singers in period dresses and top hats braved cold
weather and performed the songs Madison and My Hometown
by singers riding the Bicentennial float.
Not too many people get to celebrate their own towns
Bicentennial, says composer and lyricist Charles Moman, 57, of
nearby Seymour, Ind. He describes his commission to develop the musical
as an extraordinary situation, Im very grateful.
The two-act, Broadway-style musical Rivertown will premier
Oct 9 with a Gala event and run for six performances over two weekends.
That date is nearly four months after the city holds its Old Home
Week in mid-June, when most of the larger Bicentennial events
Moman is working with script writer Yancy Unger and director-designer
Aaron Kelsey, a teacher and theater director at Madison Conso-lidated
High School, to produce the original musical. Casting will take place
sometime before Madison schools let out for summer vacation, Moman said.
While a majority of the cast will be high schoolers, some
elementary students will also be needed for the production. Stu-dents
interested in auditions should keep an eye on the Rivertown
website for details. Susan Ohlendorf, who serves as the Educational
Chairperson for the Bicentennial Steering Committee, says one of the
many exciting aspects of the musical is the fact that, its
all hometown people in the production.
Rivertowncovers the first 100 years of Madison history.
The decision to limit the scope of the musical was based on a desire
to prevent the production from turning into a historical pageant, and
Aaron and I wanted to tell a story, Moman recalls. The story
begins with the 1909 Madison Centennial celebration, when people begin
to approach an older gentleman for memories of the towns past.
The musical will reflect on many aspects of the Madison story from the
Underground Railroad and the Civil War to the town orphanage and Irish
workers on the railroad. Moman says that, Without the river and
railroad Madison would not be what it is and both will play a
large part in the piece. Moman explains that the style focuses on singable
songs and that while the story does touch on serious issues, overall
the tone is very upbeat.
Moman is not new to capturing Indiana history and culture. His best
known musical, Indiana, Thats Where I Belong, was
designed for schoolchildren and has been performed for the Indiana Senate,
and as part of the 2005 Indiana Governor Inauguration. Moman describes
that musical as, A walk through Indiana history.
Moman, an elementary music teacher, has been awarded three Lilly Endowment
Teacher Creativity Fellowships. His most recent fellowship project,
An Indiana Portrait, incorporates music and photography
to create a picture of rural Indiana. For Rivertown,extensive
research is being conducted with the help of local genealogists and
the Jefferson County Historical Society.
Were striving very hard to be historically accurate,
says Moman. It was no problem coming up with ideas because the
history is so rich.
Ohlendorf has been reporting on the musicals progress to the Bicenten-nial
Committee and says that excitement is already growing about the production.
When the committee heard the first songs from the musical, We
were just spellbound; we just couldnt wait, said Ohlendorf.
His music is so beautiful and so fun, she said of Momans
Plans are under way to include clips from the songs on the Rivertown
website, so soon all of Madison may be singing along.
For more information, visit www.RivertownTheMusical.com
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