at the barre
Photographer - Joaquin Silva
At the Barre (Book & Lyrics by Steven Meeker Jr. and Music by Sarah Flaim) is a musical in two acts that combines musical theater with indie pop as well as mime, ballet, stage combat, clown, and contemporary dance. Catherine, a talented principal dancer at ABT with the weight of the world on her shoulders, and Shawn, a non-binary, overweight mime with self-esteem issues, are thrust into each other’s lives after an insane audition. Navigating the format of a Golden Age love story, At the Barre focuses on how one finds their beauty, finds peace within themselves, and finds a genuine connection in a cluttered and overly talkative world.
At the Barre is based on a series of vignettes collectively entitled Very Strong Liking, choreographed by Steven Meeker Jr., that began in 2013 with individual vignettes being developed at biannual Otterbein University Dance Workshops as well as presentations in the first and second Otterbein University Department of Theatre and Dance's Festival and at the second-ever The Launch presented by the Department of Theatre & Dance.
Very Strong Liking was developed into a 40-minute mime play that was presented on August 5, 2017 in the Jewel Box Theater as a part of the Midtown International Theatre Festival. The production featured Olivia Crawford as Catherine, Steven Meeker Jr. as Shawn, Isabel Billinghurst as Catherine’s Inner Self, Daniel Kunkel as Shawn’s Inner Self, with Madalyn Baker, Douglas Reitsma, and Jessica Toltzis rounding out the ensemble (Nominated for Best Variety Show).
At the Barre has been in development through residencies starting at the beginning of 2018.
During the February 2018 residency at the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT, Steven with collaborators Alli Acuff (Director), Anne-Marie Pietersma (Shawn), Alex Becker (Catherine), and Colby Rison, Chandler Smith, Zahan Mehta, & Leya Van Doren (Readers), held the first table-read of the script, recorded beginning demos for the songs “Blown,” “Pause #3,” & “Radio Silence,” as well as block the end of Act One and the beginning of Act Two for a potential staged reading.
As a resident artist at the Access Theater in New York City, NY from March 1 - August 31, 2018, At the Barre will be read through monthly table readings (March through June) with new and old collaborators from the New York City area, with a goal to finish with the first staged reading open to the public at the end of August at the Access Theater.
The first table reading at the Access Theater on March 12, 2018 featured Emmy Albritton, Madalyn Baker, Kaylee Barrett, Alex Becker, Sarah DiFiore, Madison Eberhardt, Olivia Kasten, Gianna Meaglia, Jasen Miyamoto, Evan Moore-Coll, Anne-Marie Pietersma, and Douglas Reitsma.
The second table reading at the Access Theater on April 5, 2018 featured Madalyn Baker, Alex Becker, Megan Bowen, Ben Folts, Emi Lirman, Evan Moore-Coll, EmJ Nelson, Carrigan O'Brian, Jennifer Pernia, Violeta Picayo, Anne-Marie Pietersma, David Socolar, Aliza Sotsky, Monique St. Cyr, and Emily Michelle Walton.
The first public reading of At the Barre took place during the Scratch Night Series at Theater for the New City on May 21, 2018 in the Cino Theater. The reading was directed by Allison Acuff. The reading featured Emi Lirman (Catherine's Inner Self), Joyah Love Spangler (Shawn's Inner Self), EmJ Nelson (Catherine's Voice), Caylie Rose Newcom (Shawn's Voice), Madison Eberhardt (Catherine's Shadow Self), Amina Theis (Shawn's Shadow Self), Sally Clark (Dani), Morgana Mauney (Madame Jeri), Kaelyn Brandt (Emily), Olivia Kasten (Alli), Natalie Szczerba (Arianna), Jasen Miyamoto (Head of ABT), Sarah Marthinsen (Person #1), Jennifer Pernia (Person #2), Ben Folts (Person #3), & Evan Moore-Coll (Stage Directions).
At the Barre will also be in residency at the Dragon’s Egg Studio in Ledyard, CT in August 2018.