Local singers will throw a pitch to Broadway producers
Park City-based voice teacher Debra Cook is taking a flock of local singers to the New York New Works Theatre Festival next week.
The group, which includes members of the Park City Treble Makers and McKinslee Mitchell, Cook’s six-year-old granddaughter, will perform for Broadway and off-Broadway producers at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 7, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Acorn Theatre in New York City.
The singers will perform the finale of Cook’s musical, “Jilted to Perfection: A MorMom’s Love.”
“The story is somewhat autobiographical,” said Cook, the co-founder of the Utah Conservatory. “It’s about a young and divorced Mormon mom who fights against culture and security when she meets a destitute Scientologist actor and director who takes risks to live his dreams with the woman, whom he knows is his soul mate.”
The story was inspired by the lives of Cook and her late husband Fred, she said.
“The idea of using a Mormon reference in the title was not my idea,” Cook said. “It was the idea of one of the consultants that said I needed to use it in the title.”
The piece was originally going to be about three women, according to Cook.
“I was working with two others, Kristen Brown and Kristie Guynn, on the story,” Cook said. “But we ran into some issues because they were working on other projects and their deadlines had come up.”
The women told Cook that she had enough material for her own story.
“I also had some other material that I could add in,” she said.
Cook submitted her proposal earlier this year and said she “nearly fainted” when festival organizers extended her an invitation to perform.
“I thought about expanding the piece so I could get other singers from the Park City community an off-Broadway credit,” Cook said.
(Related: the list of singers accompanying Debra Cook.)
The New York New Works Theatre Festival is designed to give developing musicals and other plays a chance to preview in front of Broadway and off-Broadway producers, according to Cook.
“The catch is that these producers don’t want to waste three hours of their time to watch a full performance, so we have only 25 minutes of performance time to tell the story,” she said. “That way they can preview six shows each night.”
Producers will look at the work and decide if they want to develop the work or just give feedback, Cook said.
This format was developed by Gene Fisch, Jr., the festival’s director.
“He noticed people were spending tens of thousands of dollars to produce their pieces to show producers and no one would show up to see them,” Cook said. “So Gene decided he would get producers he knew to come to the festival presentations every night for a few minutes. In turn, if any of the shows got picked up for production, Fisch would sign on as executive producer.”
This isn’t the first time Cook has attended the festival. She worked on a production called “Sleepy Hollow” as a member of the creative team for four years, and as a consultant last year.
“I was there last year sitting by people who produced ‘Wicked,’” she said.
In the course of the event, “Sleepy Hollow” raised some interest and is now starting to move forward to get produced, Cook said.
“Even though I’m not involved in it anymore, it’s finally getting some wheels,” she said. “It’s very exciting.”
Cook is grateful for the chance to not only present her work, but also showcase some of Park City’s and Summit County’s talent.
“The group is a microcosm of Park City singers,” she said. “I’m looking forward to showing them off.”
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