The Day of the Show: PART OF THE PLAN Opens Tonight
Music theater history is rife with stories - legends really - of how some shows came into being, oftentimes going on to find much stage success and making famous their creators, while there are still others which died desultory and unremarkable deaths on the boards and live on in infamy for reasons quite the opposite. And like lightning striking twice, no two shows seem to share the same inspirational story for their creation and subsequent success proving that formulaic stratagems for creating a musical theater hit just aren't very reliable.
With Nashville's theater/music/entertainment/arts communities now abuzz about the world premiere of Part of the Plan, a new musical by Kate Atkinson and Karen Harris that is inspired by the music of American troubadour Dan Fogelberg, and which features a score of songs from among the singer/songwriter's catalog of biggest hits.
Directed by Tony Award-nominee Lynne Taylor-Corbett (Swing!), Part of the Plan features a cast that includes stage luminaries from New York, Los Angeles, Nashville and points in between those three entertainment meccas.
Part of the Plan was borne out of an idea Atkinson had when she was reintroduced to Fogelberg's music in 2010 and over the next seven years, she and her writing and producing partner Harris have worked tirelessly to bring that idea to fruition, ultimately paying off with the 19-performance developmental staging at Nashville's Tennessee Performing Arts Center's James K. Polk Theatre.
Opening for its first of two preview performances on Friday night, the show will celebrate its official opening night performance tonight, preceded by a red carpet event.
Part of the Plan Timeline
August 2010 Kate Atkinson is introduced to Dan Fogelberg's song "Make Love Stay" by new beau, Richard Allegro. Reminiscing and rediscovering Dan's music, Kate has the idea for a Broadway musical while listening to the opening bars of "Nether Lands." That summer, a story begins to emerge based on adoption, the meaning of family, and fate.
September 2010 Kate and Richard approach Richard's longtime friend - Grammy Award-winning arranger and composer Victor Vanacore - about arranging Fogelberg's music for the stage, and Victor signs onto the idea.
November 2010 Kate has lunch with friend and multiple Emmy Award winner Karen Harris, who mentions she is considering writing a play. The two decide to co-write the musical.
December 15, 2010 Kate sends an email to Jean Fogelberg, Dan's widow, to share her idea for the musical. Jean opens the email on December 16, the anniversary of Dan's passing.
December 16, 2010 Jean Fogelberg responds. She says she has "received so many letters over the last three years [since Dan's death] from people who have ideas for all kinds of projects," but she "felt something" when reading Kate's email. She asks for more information on the musical.
(Meanwhile) Kate and Karen create a story outline and work with Victor to arrange six of Dan's songs and put them on video. Jean suggests they connect via Skype to discuss. Kate and Karen insist they will meet Jean anywhere, anytime, to share this story face-to- face. Jean invites them to meet her in Nashville in February.
February 2011 Before the scheduled meeting, Jean asks if she can bring Norbert Putnam, Dan's longtime record producer, and his wife, Sheryl, to hear the pitch.
February 19, 2011 The group meets in a conference room at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel in Nashville. Karen and Kate narrate the story while Richard works the music. Norbert talks about the emotional aspects of the story and how impressed he is with the song selection. Later, while chatting at the bar, Jean says she wants to work with Kate and Karen and that she will call the right people to get things rolling. Part of the Plan is born in a Nashville hotel.
February 20, 2011 Kate, Karen, and Richard return to Los Angeles. The next day, Kate and Karen begin the book for Part of the Plan. They immerse themselves in Dan's music.
April 11, 2012 Exclusive stage rights to Dan Fogelberg's catalogue of music for Part of the Plan are secured.
April 17, 2012 Kate and Karen complete a first draft of the book. They invite their actor friends to participate in a "table reading" of the book. Military veteran Stephan Wolfert, who was hired by Twyla Tharp to choreograph the military sequences for the original Broadway production of Movin' Out, comes to observe and provide insight. Stephan agrees to be Part of the Plan's military advisor moving forward.
July 2012 Kate visits New York and meets with production counsel Robert Harris who has represented Broadway productions for over three decades. They discuss the next phase of the show should include a "staged reading" and a "workshop" with time in between to hone the book.
Staged Reading: Actors on stage behind music stands reading the book and singing the newly-arranged songs, guided by a director.
Workshop: Takes place over several weeks and involves choreography, blocking, and rewrites. By the end of a workshop, a show can be ready for a regional, or developmental production.
October 2012 Kate and Karen continue to work on the musical and business end.
February/May 2013 Kate and Karen join forces as producers and form K-Squared Entertainment. They travel to Chicago and New York City to meet with producers, directors, attorneys, and Broadway professionals. One of these early meetings is with Tony Award-nominated director/choreographer Lynne Taylor-Corbett who is now the director of Part of the Plan's World Premiere production at TPAC.
August 2013 Kate and Karen launch a one-month Kickstarter campaign on Dan Fogelberg's birthday, August 13, and raise the money to develop the show.
October 2013 A staged reading with two performances is held in Los Angeles.
August 2014 Kate and Karen work on rewrites and contemplate next steps for the development of the show. They decide to go into the studio and record some of the Part of the Plan music as marketing material for producers and investors. Grammy Award winner Laurence Juber plays guitar and Harley Jay sings lead vocals.
September 2014 In partnership with New York-based WalkRunFly productions, K-Squared begins auditioning actors and singers for their first New York staged reading. Playbill.com reports on it: "Dan Fogelberg Musical Will Get NYC Staged Reading." Harley Jay, "Sean" from the LA/San Diego readings, flies to NY to audition in person. He is cast before he leaves the building. The rest of the talented actors are cast out of New York.
Oct/Nov 2014 They rehearse and stage the NYC reading. Part of the Plan plays to packed houses and receives standing ovations for both performances. All together there are six presentations of the show: two in Los Angeles in October 2013, one in LA and one in San Diego in June 2014, and two in New York in November 2014.
From those readings, they officially attach Lynne Taylor Corbett as director and Broadway musical director Michael Moricz. December 2015 Part of the Plan, LLC and The Fogelberg Foundation of Peoria nominate Dan Fogelberg for a star on the Music City Walk of Fame in Nashville. Dan has always had a powerful connection to Nashville. His first album was recorded there, he wrote his first hit single - "Part of the Plan" - there, he often performed live there, and it was in Nashville that Kate and Karen first met Jean Fogelberg and Norbert Putnam, four years before, to present their idea for a theatrical project using Dan's music. Music City will always be a home for anything Fogelberg.
February 2016 K-Squared meets and develops a relationship with Kathleen O'Brien, President and CEO of the Tennessee Performing Arts Center in Nashville. Kathleen is a Fogelberg aficionado since his early career, and she is deeply moved upon reading the script. Kathleen wants to hear more, as TPAC explores the possibility of developing original productions to expand its stellar reputation for delivering top-notch Broadway shows. This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
September 2016 TPAC co-produces a staged reading of Part of the Plan with three performances on the stage of James K. Polk Theater. In the audience are TPAC's Board of Directors and some longtime subscribers. Feedback at the readings, as well as from follow-up surveys, show a clear and passionate desire to see this show further develop.
April 2017 Jean Fogelberg releases "Live at Carnegie Hall," a new album from a found DAT tape of Dan's from 1979.
April 11, 2017 Kathleen O'Brien announces that a new, original musical - Part of the Plan - with music and lyrics by Dan Fogelberg will launch TPAC's 2017-18 HCA/TriStar Health Broadway at TPAC series. It marks TPAC's first original production. Additionally, Kathleen announces that not only will TPAC present the show, but it will also co-produce the World Premiere of Part of the Plan.
Spring/Summer 2017 With co-producers and a theatre in place, K-Squared hires a world-class team to bring Part of the Plan to the stage. Designers, actors, production crew, stagecraft, marketing, and publicity - all the elements necessary to bring a world-class developmental production to life. Under the direction of Lynne Taylor-Corbett, produced by K-Squared Entertainment, and co-produced by Tennessee Performing Arts Center.
August 13, 2017 Colorado Music Hall of Fame will host an induction concert for Dan Fogelberg at Fiddler's Green. Performances include Garth Brooks, Amy Grant and Vince Gill and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band.
August 2017 Rehearsals to begin in Nashville for the World Premiere of Part of the Plan.
September 10, 2017 The red carpet World Premiere of Part of the Plan at TPAC's James K. Polk Theater.
September 8-24, 2017 The run at TPAC's James K. Polk Theater will include 19 performances total (two preview performances on September 8-9, an opening night performance on September 10, and an additional two weeks, with eight shows per week).
About the show Part of the Plan - a new musical featuring 20 iconic songs from the catalogue of acclaimed singer/songwriter Dan Fogelberg - celebrates its world premiere and its possible trek toward Broadway with a 19-performance run at Nashville's Tennessee Performing Arts Center. The production opens Thursday, September 8 and continues through September 24 at TPAC's James K. Polk Theatre, with a gala red carpet event heralding the show's official opening night on Sunday, September 10.
Directed and choreographed by Tony Award-nominee Lynne Taylor-Corbett (Swing!), with book by Kate Atkinson and Karen Harris, Part of the Plan interweaves Fogelberg's music, arranged by Grammy Award Winners Victor Vanacore (Ray Charles) and Laurence Juber (Paul McCartney), including "Leader of the Band," "Longer" and "Same Old Lang Syne."
Produced by K-Squared Entertainment in association with the Nashville-based nonprofit Tennessee Performing Arts Center, this show marks TPAC's first original production. Directed by Tony-nominated Lynne Taylor-Corbett, with book by Kate Atkinson & Karen Harris, this developmental production follows the lives of an adopted boy and the teenaged girl of privilege who was forced to give him up Part of the Plan takes audiences through the post-World War II boom times, the social and sexual revolution of the 1960s, and the political upheaval of the 1970s, while exploring the theme that everything in life happens for a reason.
Part of the Plan introduces the music of American troubadour Fogelberg, who lived and worked - and wrote some of his best-known songs - in Nashville during his career, to a new generation of fans, while evoking memories for his legion of die-hard fans who long to hear his music in all forms.
In 2016, a staged reading of Part of the Plan was held on the stage of TPAC's Polk Theatre, with an invited audience of TPAC subscribers, theater supporters and journalists.
Taylor-Corbett's cast features a mix of talented performers from New York, Los Angeles and Nashville, led by Broadway's Harley Jay (Rent), Kate Morgan Chadwick (Bed) and Nashville's own J.T. Hodges (Academy of Country Music nominated artist), along with Jayme Lake (I Love Lucy: Live on Stage) and Daniel David Stewart (Deaf West's Spring Awakening). Joining them in the ensemble to bring this new story to life will be: Katy Blake, Chris Roberts, Erica Aubrey, Benjamin D. Hale, Euriamis Losada, Darian Peer, Melinda Porto, Joshua Payne, Wyatt Rogers, Curt Bonnem, Kirsten Towers-Rowles, Megan Murphy Chambers, Miles DeMaria and Cameron Gilliam.
Part of the Plan features scenic design by Jason Sherwood (The View UpStairs, Drama Desk nominee), costume design by Loren Shaw (The Mysteries, Drama Desk nominee), lighting design by Jason Kantrowitz (Dames at Sea), sound design by Josh Leibert (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) and musical direction by Nashville's own Stephen Kummer.
Tickets are now on www.TPAC.org, by phone at (615) 782- 4040 and at the TPAC Box Office, 505 Deaderick Street, in downtown Nashville. For groups of 10 or more, call (615) 782-4060.
For more information, visit www.danfogelbergmusical.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.