New Musical Offers 'Lighthearted Approach' To Climate Change: Cape Cod Theatre Company Debuts 'Crude'

By: Elizabeth Van Wye

Topics: Local Theater , Environment

Terry Brady as Brian, Ann Vohs as Cassidy and Branndon Prentiss as Chad in “Crude—The Climate Change Musical.” COURTESY PHOTOS

If pleas from our children, warnings from the UN, and daily evidence of increasing weather disruptions don't convince us of climate change, how about a musical?

That's what inspired Cape Cod playwright Maureen Condon to write "Crude—the Climate Change Musical," which has its world premiere Thursday, Oct. 10 at the Cape Cod Theatre Company, home of the Harwich Junior Theater.

With a background in science writing and a career in journalism and marketing, Condon was convinced that people were tuning out the stories of "gloom and doom" on this important issue. She also knew that the 1979 movie "The China Syndrome" had helped make a skeptical public more aware of safety issues in the nuclear industry, and she wanted to do the same for climate change.

"Our kids are holding the bag," Condon stressed, and reaching enough people to make a difference might require a more "lighthearted approach." Ten years ago, she set out to achieve her goal. "Crude—the Climate Change Musical," is the result.

"Think 'How to Succeed in Business' meets 'An Inconvenient Truth,'" she said recently. The musical centers around an environmentalist daughter who tries to outwit her oil tycoon Dad.

"It's a fun musical romp through the world of big oil and high-stakes PR where solar start-ups and the press are pawns in a game of corporate intrigue and family politics," she said.

Condon, who is also an accomplished country music songwriter, is a long-time musical theater aficionado who had a goal to write a musical by the time she was 45. "That didn't happen," she said with a laugh, but by 2008 the time and the topic seemed right.

That year a chance meeting with musician and arranger John McKenna, on their way to a conference of the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), was a stroke of luck, Condon said. "He is a rock and roll guitarist and we swapped CDs," she recalled. She gave him one of the songs from the show and when he arranged it she was delighted. Ultimately, she would write 22 songs for the show; all have been produced and arranged by McKenna at his studios in Evergreen, Colo.

In addition to writing the songs, Condon has spent the past 10 years refining and fine-tuning the script. She sought advice from Nina Schuessler, producing artistic director for CCTC/HJT, took a script writing class at Cape Rep Theater and a course in "How to present a new musical" at the Goodspeed Opera House in Connecticut.

In July 2016 “Crude” was accepted into the New York Musical Festival for a developmental reading and positive feedback was provided by members of the theater community. The show was ready for prime time.

Two of the songs, "Puerto Rico In Your Arms," and "When I think of Christmas" have already been performed by the Cape Cod Symphony.

Once CCTC/HJT agreed to produce the show, Condon approached some unique sponsors to help underwrite some of the costs. Given the subject matter, she decided to appeal to alternative energy companies, and ultimately five solar companies signed on. So did the Sierra Club and CapeCod 350.org, among others. Conrad Geyser, founder of Cotuit Solar, volunteered that "Having theater as a means to integrate this message to the public brings needed levity for a heavy subject...It's an inspiring way to spread an important message."

Andrew Wade of My Generation Energy agreed. "Getting the message out about climate change is crucial—whether it's through news articles or song and dance."

Condon still recalls seeing Jane Fonda in "The China Syndrome" and remembers its impact on nuclear power. "Jane Fonda is my inspiration," Condon said. She is hoping that "Crude" can also have an impact on the urgent problem of our time—climate change.

 

DETAILS:
"Crude—The Climate Change Musical"
At the Cape Cod Theater Company/Harwich Junior Theater, 105 Division St, West Harwich
Oct. 10 through Nov. 10
Information and reservations: 508-432-2002, www.capecodtheatrecompany.org