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Vineyard Arts Project Presents Early Look at New Musical

by Louisa Hufstader

Vineyard Arts Project is back with another season of cutting-edge dance, opera and musical theatre residencies, each concluding with a public performance of works in progress. Artists in residence at the Edgartown arts incubator this week include a modern ballet company and the writers, cast and director of Far From The Tree, a new musical based on Andrew Solomon’s best-selling book of nonfiction subtitled Parents, Children and the Search for Identity. Michael Greif, famed for directing the Pulitzer-winning musicals Rent and Next to Normal and the current hit Dear Evan Hanson, said Far From The Tree uses Mr. Solomon’s own parenting challenges to frame material from the book.

“He’s inspired and charged by his memories of the interactions he’s had with families of special needs children,” Mr. Greif told the Gazette at the Vineyard Arts Project campus Tuesday.

At an outdoor dining table, the musical’s composer Robert Maggio, lyricist Kristin Maloney, librettist Justin Warner and music director Lynne Shankel were collaborating, each with an open musical score.

“The best musical material is the material that has the most emotional stakes,” Mr. Greif said, and Mr. Solomon’s book, along with his life story, are deeply charged with emotion.

That’s the sort of story that appeals to Ashley Melone, founder and artistic director of Vineyard Arts Project.

“I’m excited by that piece and am really drawn to it, because I’m a parent,” said Ms. Melone, who has an 18-month-old daughter and is expecting another baby in September. “I really identify with the love and fear and worries that new parents have.”

The company will perform a reading, with music, of Far From The Tree on July 5 at 7 p.m. at Vineyard Arts Project.

(To read the rest of the article, please visit the Vineyard Gazette.
To purchase tickets to the performance, please visit Vineyard Arts Project.)