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‘One Way Trip to Mars’ to debut in Waterville

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Rock opera to premiere at the Waterville Opera House 

WATERVILLE – “One Way Trip to Mars – A Rock Opera” makes its world theatrical premiere at the Waterville Opera House August 24 through 27.

“One Way Trip to Mars” is a Broadway-bound spectacular, musical and cinematic production that takes audiences on a virtual journey into space and the surface of Mars. The story is told entirely through songs written by Maine musicians Peter Alexander and Johannah Harkness and is directed by Dennis St. Pierre. International recording sensation Fantine will star as Casssandra, the lead female role; she is joined on stage by a cast of professional New York actors and supported by an 11-piece rock orchestra.

“One Way Trip to Mars”is set in 2033 and tells a fictional story about Paolo Cruze, the first human chosen to fly a solo, one-way mission to establish a human colony on Mars. Harkness conceived of this idea and she and Alexander began writing songs for rock opera in 2015. In the fall of 2016, they produced a series of multimedia concert performances of the show with their Hollowbody Electric Band and an 18-voice chorus. Since that time the show has been re-worked for musical theater with 10 additional songs and theatrical book by Dennis St. Pierre.

Lead performer Fantine is a singer-songwriter who has worked with pop stars Gloria Estefan and Wyclef Jean. She made her musical debut in 2010 when she lent her vocals to Australian Group Space Invada’s soulful jazz-inspired single “Super Sweet.” Her career skyrocketed in 2013 when she moved to Miami and began working on her debut album “I Am Fantine” with 19-time Grammy Award-winning producer Emilio Estefan and seven-time Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Gloria Estefan (who also co-wrote two of her songs). Emilio Estefan curated and helped develop Fantine’s most popular songs, including “Bachata de Rosa” and “Reservation for Two.” In September 2014, “Reservation for Two” peaked at No. 5 on Billboard’s Dance Club Songs list. 

Alexander (also known as Peter Blachly) comes from a family of classically trained musicians. His musical career has included performances with Chuck Berry, Poco, Tim Hardin, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, and other legends of folk and rock music, and one of his songs was recorded by Rod Stewart in 1986. After moving to Maine in 2008, Peter served as Executive Director of Maine Alliance for Arts Education and president of the Maine Songwriters Association.

In May, Alexander was asked to perform songs from “One Way Trip to Mars– A Rock Opera” at The Humans to Mars Summit in Washington, D.C., the world’s largest event dedicated to human exploration of Mars, where Buzz Aldrin and several other astronauts participated.

Harkness is also an accomplished artist and songwriter. “One Way Trip to Mars” as a rock opera was her original conception, and she was the artistic director for the show’s multimedia concerts last fall. Harkness, who has a private psychology practice, has a particular interest in the human condition. She brings a theatrical sensibility to her work.

In October 2016 Alexander and Harkness teamed up with dramatist and director Dennis St. Pierre to re-work their rock opera concept into a fully developed musical theater piece to prepare it for the Broadway stage.

St. Pierre is a professional performer and interdisciplinary artist and educator with an MFA in Intermedia from the University of Maine at Orono and a B.A. in Theater from Franklin Pierce University. He is a member of Actors Equity and Screen Actors Guild and has worked for television production companies and more than 30 theater companies throughout the U.S. The production staff includes Jeff Buchsbaum as music director, Chad Lefebvre as lighting and scenic designer, Courtney Babbidge as assistant music director, Mike Gudroe as lighting tech, Devin Cromwell as sound engineer, and Paulette Carter and Lauren Parrow as costume designers.

(For more information about the show, visit www.onewaytriptomars.org. Tickets are available at www.operahouse.org.)

Last modified on Wednesday, 16 August 2017 12:21

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