Peak Performances - World Premiere 2014
Music by Liz Queler & Seth Farber
Book by Liz Queler & Edna St. Vincent Millay
Direction by Mindy Cooper
Music Direction by Seth Farber
Scenic Design by Erhard Rom
Lighting Design by Aaron Copp
Projection Design by S. Katy Tucker
Costume Design by Debra Otte
With Donna Vivino as Edna St. Vincent Millay
and Michael Paternostro
Musicians: Liz Queler (guitar/mandolin/vocals), Seth Farber (piano/vocals), Steve Count (bass), Ann Klein (guitar),
Karl Latham (drums), Brad Bosenbeck (violin)
Words – losing them – finding them.
I don’t know why, but one day I turned to Millay. I like to think that it wasn’t by chance. Her verses sang to me. Her language, though lofty (trees were tamaracks, horses were cobs), was accessible in ways I hadn’t experienced before in poetry. Her defiant feminism and sly, dark humor made me smile. I relished my time with her as music poured out with every turn of the page. One day I came home and found my book open on the piano. My husband, Seth, had written a song, and now we were both hooked. Soon enough we’d amassed a collection of 21 songs; it became our CD - “The Edna Project.”
As providence led me to Millay – so it led us to Jed Wheeler, executive director of Peak Performances. We met at the elementary school talent show where Jed was (appropriately) serving as the show’s producer and Seth as music director. We had a vague notion of developing a theater piece from “The Edna Project” and thought he might offer some feedback. He listened to the CD and was intrigued. I’d become immersed in the life and work of Millay. I’d devoured biographies, been to the Library of Congress and held her letters and manuscripts in my hands, and we‘d visited her home in Austerlitz, NY. Vincent (as she was called by her family) had an inspiring story to tell which, accompanied by our song cycle, could present a compelling evening of theater. “That’s all fine” said Jed, “but I can’t help thinking this is more about you.”
Hmm…Indeed, Vincent had moved into my life, precisely when my father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s had reached a particularly difficult phase. She offered me words, gave me a reason to sing, and carried me with the wisdom of her verses. My father, on the other hand, as he descended into his dementia, reached me on a different level, and with no words helped me discover in myself wells of patience and compassion I had no idea I had.
Some songwriters believe that songs are hanging in the air waiting to be discovered. All you have to do is show up, and receive them. In my case Edna showed up, and her timing, much like her words, was perfect.