THE WHISPER is a full-length musical that uses the framing device of a fairytale narrative to explore the difficult and complex topics of depression and suicide ideation. This piece aims to address the challenges of depression, especially when experienced in isolation, but to also celebrate the beauty that can come from a mind forced to find its own outlet. The fantastical world of our story is all built from the imagination of our protagonist, MELANIE, who, in her darkest moment, also creates the most beauty.
MELANIE sits in her bathtub, feeling nothing but “So Cold.”
And in her lowest moment…
She is pulled even lower…
Two wooden hands POP! out of the bathtub and pull Melanie down the drain - into a whole new world.
A red lake. With a sign next to it that reads:
“Keep Out! Lake Unclean (re: The Pomegranate Fiasco)”
Melanie is pulled out of the red lake by a 4-foot-tall, autonomous wooden PUPPET. The puppet pulls Melanie into a cabin – which has a dead body on the floor?!
Melanie – naturally – freak outs. The puppet tries to communicate – but, sadly, has no nose or mouth. Melanie, thinking quickly, carves the puppet a face – giving her the gift of speech!
The puppet, whose name we learn is LAINIE, explains that the dead body is that of her maker, THE WOODWORKER. She was killed by a cloud of thinking, living, whispering smoke called The Whisper.
Now, Lainie is out for REVENGE against The Whisper – and begs Melanie for help. Their best bet for defeating The Whisper is to track down the GREAT QUEEN, who is hiding deep in The Waltzing Woods, a magical forest full of trees that used to literally dance before they were burnt to a crisp.
Melanie just wants to go back to her apartment, but with no clear path, she agrees to accompany Lainie on her quest, in the hopes that The Queen’s knowledge of her Queendom will help Melanie get home.
So, Melanie and Lainie begin their quest – one that will lead them to a man named WALDO, who has literal ice in his chest; BATS with hundreds of recipes for cooking spiders; and SUBJECTS who dance as they paint over the burns covering the trees.
But will Melanie and Lainie get what they want?
Well, this is a fairytale.
(All concept art designed by Matthew Hill.)
Originally developed at NYU's Graduate Music Theatre Writing Program.
No further development history.