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SYNOPSIS

O Pioneers!
Book, Music, and Lyrics by Robert Sickinger
Additional Music and Lyrics by Mel Atkey

ACT 1

The musical opens in the Bohemian Beer Gardens in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1898.The Bandmaster announces a "Gentlemen's Choice." Frank Shabata, the buck of the garden, escorts the fifteen-year-old beauty Marie Tovesky to the dance floor (WALTZING). Frank declares his love for Marie and lures her into marriage (PRETTY LOCKET). Marie's father hears of the pending marriage and places her in a convent (HEAR OUR PRAYER). Two years later Frank comes for her, and they run away to St. Louis (reprise of PRETTY LOCKET). Marie's father finds them living in poverty and buys them the Linstrum farm in Red Cloud, Nebraska (PRAIRIE DREAM). Marie arrives at her dear friend Alexandra Bergson's farm, where she has spent her past summers. Alexandra's brothers, Lou, Oscar and Emil, arrive. Alexandra excuses herself and asks Emil to remain with Marie as they remember their past summers spent together (SUMMER DAYS). Frank arrives, and they leave as Marie invites Emil to her home to renew old times.

Marie seeks out Emil and talks him into doing some work on her farm. Carl Linstrum, Alexandra's lifetime friend, on his way to the Yukon, arrives from New York City. They are overjoyed to be together again, and Carl is astonished to see the prosperous farm Alexandra has made (I LOVE THIS LAND). In the marshes Emil and Marie are hunting. A distraught Marie runs off when Emil shoots a duck.

Alexandra and Carl visit Marie's farm, but the visit is cut short by the appearance of an angry Frank. A broken Frank finds farm life intolerable (GOD'S TURNED MY HEART TO STONE). A church fair dance finds Marie "the Belle of the Ball" (DANCE PRETTY LADY). Emil is in love with Marie, but Marie will remain true to Frank. Emil laments (POSSIBILITIES OF LOVE). Lou and Oscar visit to tell Alexandra "people are talking" about Carl's stay (JUST LIKE A WOMAN). Emil severs his relationship with Marie and leaves for Mexico. Carl will go to Alaska to seek his fortune and make himself worthy of Alexandra. Alexandra is left alone (I LOSE ALL I LOVE).

ACT 2

Alexandra and Mrs. Torburg visit Marie's farm (THE SNOW). Alexandra gives Marie a letter Emil has written from Mexico (THE LETTER). Alexandra and Mrs. Torburg leave. Alone, an unhappy Marie sings of her failed marriage to Frank (SECOND CHANCES). Marie is telling fortunes at the church fair (COME TO THE FAIR). Emil returns from Mexico, and his friend Amedee persuades Emil to turn the light off in Marie's booth so the boys can kiss the girls. Emil turns off the light - he and Marie impulsively kiss and flee from each other. He follows her to the woods, and they talk of their impossible situation; Emil promises to leave town if Marie tells him she loves him. She replies "Didn't you know!", but will not leave her husband. Emil visits Amedee to say goodbye, and Amedee is suddenly stricken with appendicitis and dies. Amedee's funeral Mass (AGNUS DEI). Emil rushes out of church to bid farewell to Marie, asleep under the mulberry tree (MY BEAUTIFUL DREAM). Frank finds them embracing and shoots them. Neighbors and family find their dead bodies (DEATH IN THE ORCHARD). Alexandra, alone in the rain, stands by the graves of Emil and Marie and decides to free herself of pain by forgiving Frank (NEVER FEAR). Alexandra visits Frank in prison (I LOVED HER SO). Carl returns and asks Alexandra to be his wife. (MY LOVE IS YOU). The company follows with O WONDROUS LAND.

 

Plaudits...


"I Enjoyed the score for "O Pioneers" especially "Possibilities," "Agnus Dei," "My love Is You," and "O Land." I think it would be great as a touring production......Willa Cather is so loved across the country."
KT Sullivan International Vocalist and Cabaret Artist

"EXTREMELY POWERFUL AND COMPELLNG ... ENGAGING SCORE by Sickinger and Atkey."
Michelle Tattenbaum
MANHATTAN THEATRE CLUB

O Pioneers! A Musical of the Heartland is engaging and moving and faithfully reflects the novel ... particularly liked the treatment of the theme of freedom, which is too often overlooked.... Thank you for a fine rendering of an American classic."
Steve Ryan
Executive Director
Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial & Educational Foundation

" enjoyed your musical very much ... especially refreshed by the depth and care with which you created your characters and guided them through the piece."
Kent Nicholson
THEATRE WORKS

"Canadians will embrace this vibrant and wonderful musical celebration of pioneer spirit that will have a special resonance in the Canadian West ... impressive"
Byron Toben
SENIOR TIMES MONTREAL

"a perfect musical.....tremendously gifted work"
James Ashford
FLORIDA STUDIO THEATRE

"lovely poignant musical"
Bernadette Ulrich
MUSIC THEATRE INTERNATIONAL

"RECOMMENDED"
Julian Woodford
GLOBAL SEARCH FOR NEW MUSICALS

"O Pioneers will wow audiences with its beautiful music and touching story."
Kristin Ettinger
PIONEER DRAMA SERVICE

"The topicality for Utah audiences is clearly strong..... music richly compelling and theatrical...."
DAVID DYNAK Chair, Department of Theatre University of Utah

"Canadians will embrace this vivid and wonderful musical celebration of pioneer spirit that will have a special resonance in the Canadian West."
BYRON TOBEN Senior Times Montreal

"Enjoyed your musical very much........ especially refreshed by the depth and care with which you created your characters and guided them through the piece."
Kent Nicholson THEATRE WORKS

Reviews...


" true to the spirit of Cather's novel......staged in the manner of Our Town."

"the VITALITY of Sickinger's direction, the LUSH MUSIC and the VERVE of the cast make this an ENGROSSING TOUCHING musical."

"as Marie and Emil, Lisa Neubauer and Matthew Morse were extremely attractive and compelling and made beautiful music in their duets 'Summer Days' and 'Beautiful Dream.' "
BACKSTAGE May 11 2001

"A MUSICAL WITH HEART ... BEAUTIFUL and MEMORABLE ... I loved every minute ... THE AUDIENCE WERE ON IT'S FEET CHEERING ! "
CHELSEA JOURNAL May 15 2001

"young enthusiastic golden throated singers ... Oliver Burg's transformation as Frank is DYNAMIC."
SHOW BUSINESS May 15 2001

"a MELODIC SCORE that approaches grand opera in the intense arias written for the cuckolded husband, the intensely frightening Oliver Burg."
OFF OFF BDWY REVIEW MAY 5 2001

"WILLA CATHER is the decade's JANE AUSTEN."
ASBURY PARK PRESS May 12 2001

 

 



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