In 2010, an early draft of Dear Boy received a workshop with the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre (http://picttheatre.org/), with support from the Small Arts Initiative of the Heinz Endowments. The reading was produced by PICT's Operations Director Stephanie Riso, directed by PICT's then Associate Artistic Director Melissa Hill Grande, and music-directed by Michael Miller. This was our first opportunity to hear the show sung and read all the way through, and it showed us what we needed to do before moving on to . . .
Development, stages 2 & 3
Two further workshops. First, musical theatre students in Stacey Cabaj's class at the University of Pittsburgh rehearsed the revised Act 1 of Dear Boy as their final project of the semester, performing the staged and choreographed Act 1, still book-in-hand, before an invited audience. They were brilliant, thanks to their talent, energy and wonderful university support staff. Their performance told us that our revisions had put the show on the right track.
Then, with the same music director (Nick Stamatakis), we assembled a professional company to give a reading (a pared-down version of Act 1 and the full Act 2) to members of MTAP--Musical Theatre Artists of Pittsburgh in the summer of 2015. Our colleagues' responses have helped us further revise both book and music.
Development, stage 4
In 2016, the full, further revised show received a public reading, again funded through the Small Arts Initiative of the Heinz Endowments, and produced by
MTAP—Musical Theatre Artists of Pittsburgh, a collective of artists working to create new musical theatre. It allowed us to see a fundamental structural flaw in the storytelling and led to a restructuring of the entire show, including heightened roles
for the ensemble, to the extent that they all became named characters at base, knowable and essential in those roles despite some of them playing many additional roles.