TREES: A New Musical
Book, music and lyrics by Neal Learner (2023)
Ever since she was a child, Rachel loved walking through the woods near her house, a hike that took her past rolling hills, bubbling streambeds, sunny meadows, and a small lake. The only problem was she had to sneak through a fence to access the land that had long been off-limits to the public. Rachel decided one day she had had enough of her life as a trespasser. With the help of her biology teacher Ms. Fields, Rachel wins a million-dollar state grant to help turn Alexburg’s last remaining tract of wild woodland into a nature park. Unfortunately, the land also is coveted by developer Dirk Ramelton, who has filed permits with the city to develop luxury townhomes and mixed-used condos on the very spot. Aided by a compliant Mayor Pilton and city council, the developer prepares to move forward. That is until the plan runs up against Rachel.
Trees: A New Musical explores the conflict that arises when developers view land as a resource to be exploited and environmentalists view it as a treasure to be protected. Who will prevail?
(World Premiere: Bethesda Little Theater, October 26, 27, 28, 2023)
Get Me Home: A Travel Opera in Three Acts
By Neal Learner (2020)
Get Me Home: A Travel Opera in Three Acts follows the adventures of Maxine T. Heart, an American expat, as she rushes home to see her father who was injured in a bicycling accident. Set in three 10-minute acts, the sung-through musical calls for four characters (2 men, 2 women) playing various roles:
- Act I is set in a foreign airport as Maxine tries to sort out a ticketing snafu that almost prevents her from leaving.
- Act II is set in the hospital where Maxine reunites with her mother and younger brother, and sorts through some family issues beyond her dad’s injury.
- Act III is set in a restaurant of Maxine’s adopted country where she kindles a romance with the luggage handler who helped her overcome an obstinate ticket agent.
Get Me Home is a musical odyssey that distills a series of real-life scenarios to their emotional essence, touching on themes of mortality, family, stress, jealousy, and love. The show calls for four characters — young adult male/female and senior adult male/female — with each act lasting roughly 10 minutes. The story is entirely sung through with solos, duets and four-part harmonies, all accompanied by piano. Maxine is the constant in each act while other actors change characters to reflect the story. Short narrations establish each act, and minimalist scenery is arranged to set each scene.
(See below Acts I & II performed below by Taphouse Theatre, Dallas, Texas; and demo recordings of Acts I, II & III)
Get Me Home: Staged Reading, Alexandria, Va., Nov. 12, 2022
Taphouse Theatre performance of Act I and II
Demo Recordings of Get Me Home, Three Acts
LIFE: A Comic Opera in Three Short Acts
By Neal Learner (2016)
Life is as grand! Not always in the sense that it’s “wonderful and pleasurable” but rather in that it’s large and intrinsically dramatic. Life is funny/sad, painful/sensual, anxious/confident, exciting/boring, loud/quiet, hateful/loving, beautiful/ugly, desirous/repulsive and everything else in between. It has three distinct phases: beginning, middle and end. And there’s nothing anyone can do to change that. Life: A Comic Opera in Three Short Acts sets to music this grand topic in the only medium up to the task – opera! The work features a mother and father and their twin children, a boy and a girl, as they experience the flow of life in all of its subtle and not-so-subtle moments.
(See below full performance and scenes from 2017 Capital Fringe Festival performance)