The Burnt Part Boys
by Mariana Elder, Chris Miller, and Nathan Tysen
originally produced at Playwrights Horizons,
through May 13, 2010
Tim Sanford, Artistic Director of Playwrights Horizons and Doug Aibel, Artistic Director of Vineyard Theatre
Both Playwrights and The Vineyard have long had a passion for the development of new American musicals, and this passion has led to the two companies joining together to bring The Burnt Part Boys, a new musical by Chris Miller, Nathan Tysen, and Mariana Elder, to life. The Burnt Part Boys is set in West Virginia, c. 1962. It deals with a group of teenagers going on a life-transforming journey. “The Burnt Part Boys” are the sons of a group of West Virginia miners who perished in a mining accident ten years prior. When word gets out the mining company plans to re-open the mining site on the mountain that had for years been closed, some of the children decide to make the perilous journey to this forbidden zone, in an effort to take action, keep the mine closed, as a shrine to their lost fathers. The gestation of the show stretches back over eight years and it is worth noting that, whatever the intention of the writers, it probably would have been impossible not to interpret this story through the filter of recent memories of 9/11. At the time, debate about how to rebuild the site and what would constitute an appropriate memorial was still highly charged. Gradually, the controversy has quieted with the final approval of plans for both the new Freedom Tower and 9/11 memorial. But stories about reconciling grief still impact us a little more keenly. Moreover, a deeper universality lies in the epic coming-of-age journey of the young people of this story. They are not simply coming to terms with their grief; they are in fact looking for their fathers within themselves. In effect, they are looking into their own futures. The dynamic journey they undertake leading to its transformative climax should strike deep chords of recognition in all of us. Set to a haunting and original bluegrass/pop inspired score, this new work will be the much-anticipated debut New York collaboration of librettist Mariana Elder, composer Chris Miller and lyricist Nathan Tysen. Both of us believe strongly that The Burnt Part Boys has the potential to be a new American classic, a heartfelt and beautifully told tale of young people discovering their potential under trying conditions.
Rural West Virginia, 1962. Fourteen year-old Pete’s fighting to claim his past. His older brother Jake’s hoping to forge a future. With its soaring, elegiac score and eclectic band of youngsters teetering on the brink of adulthood, this inspirational new musical from an acclaimed new team finds both the streaks of light and the heart of darkness within us all.
Book : Mariana Elder
Music : Chris Miller
Lyrics : Nathan Tysen
The Burnt Part Boys has received generous support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, as the first project in our new Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s Playwrights Horizons Musicals in Partnership Initiative.