Even in the dustiest of times, or, perhaps only in the dustiest of times, legends can be born.

By: Sep. 21, 2023

In the heart of Dustbin, where rules and dust reign supreme, I had the opportunity to experience Sarah Saltwick’s charming THE GIRL WHO BECAME LEGEND. This darling production, a commissioned work by The Kennedy Center, now playing at ZACH, is brought to life and staged by the ensemble work of a creative and sturdy cast and their director Liz Fisher.

Raina (Blakeney Mahlstedt) is a daring young girl on a quest to bring back a long-lost cloud after years of relentless drought in Dustbin. Along the way, she encounters legends she’s only read about in the books she used to read, before Dustbin’s controlling mayor (Helyn Rain Messenger) shut down the library. What girl wouldn’t be inspired by the likes of Calamity Jane (Amber Quick) Johnny Appleseed (Jeremy Rashad Brown) and Paul Bunyan (Helyn Rain Messenger)?

Playwright Saltwick shares about THE GIRL WHO BECAME LEGEND that she “was inspired by folk legends of past and tall tales where the truth was stretched for dramatic effect. As I imagined Raina’s journey, I thought about being brave and about leaving home for the first time. Raina discovers new things about herself… Being scared is natural… Being kind is powerful. And embracing the different parts of yourself - the angry storm and gentle rainbow - means you just might be able to do something impossible...” Luckily for us, this cast and Fisher deliver on all these ideas.

The play's opening moments transport us into the barren and dust-laden world of Dustbin. Mahlstedt’s optimism and sweet charm as Raina are supported by the generous affirmation she receives from the characters (and the supportive and talented cast) in this production. The contrast between the oppressive, monotonous brown town and the realm of Raina's vision is crystal clear. Raina's courage, determination, and indomitable spirit is hopeful, not just for the young among us, but those of us who look on life with a more seasoned world-view. Some might see a familiarity to certain circumstances in the play and similar situations in our current political climate. But for everyone of any age, this story brings hope for those courageous non-conformists who are brave enough to be authentic.

The supporting cast gives us a host of memorable characters and also serves as the band for this sweet musical. In fact, Helyn Rain Messenger, Amber Quick, and Paul Sanchez are also credited with composing music and writing lyrics for the show. The creative process for THE GIRL WHO BECAME LEGEND is, in the truest sense, a collaborative artistic endeavor. And what a talented cast Fisher has assembled and collaborated with. Particular standout moments included Amber Quick’s Calamity Jane, Paul Sanchez’s Daisy Widowmaker (Grrl!) and Helyn Rain Messenger’s evil Mayor. Rounding out the cast is the charming Jeremy Rashad Brown, and hard working musician Nathan Daniel Ford.

From my adult perspective, THE GIRL WHO BECAME LEGEND goes beyond what Saltwick describes into other healthy themes such as being resilient, overcoming adversity, and showing grit. I encourage those of you who have aspiring young humans to take the opportunity to embark on Raina's adventure and get to ZACH for this show. This production serves as a reminder that even in the dustiest of times, or, perhaps only in the dustiest of times, legends can be born.


Script and Lyrics by Sarah Saltwick

Music and Additional Lyrics by Helyn Rain MessengerAmber Quick and Paul Sanchez

Directed by Liz Fisher

September 20 - October 01, 2023

ZACH Theatre

Kleberg Stage

South Lamar Blvd at Riverside Drive

Austin, TX, 78704

Tickets available Click Here

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From This Author - Joni Lorraine

Joni joined BroadwayWorld in 2016 after over twenty-five years of involvement in the Central Texas theatre scene.  She has worked as a company member and educator for Pollyanna Children's The... Joni Lorraine">(read more about this author)


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