By Chelsea Royer
Perhaps the best part of being a writer is that nothing has to remain stagnant. You tell a story and the story morphs, evolves, and changes with every idea and stroke of the pen or strike of a key. For the dedicated, what was supposed to be the finished product is never good enough and thus it is back to the drawing board for fresh content and new twists.
For Lynne Lerych, writing is her life, as both a teacher and creator. Other people bring it to life on stage for an audience to see. Lynne has been teaching 26 years and has a masters degree in play and fiction writing. Unfortunately, life is often too busy and until 10 years ago, Lynne had to take a long break from playwriting. The availability of time has made her a jack-in-the-box of creativity and in 2008, Lynne began a story about a Veteran that she titled “The Dig.” The play never reached completion and she instead focused on other works that would eventually become original Bishop Center performances. After seeing three of her works develop into full-scale plays, Lynne decided she wanted to do something a little different.
Lynne’s inspiration for “The Dig” came after hearing the story of a depressed Veteran who received a jolt of reality when a homeless man tried to give him money. As she attempted to unveil the story in her mind, it just wasn’t coming together in the way she wanted – the characters had too many monologues. Turns out, the monologues just needed a melody.
Alex Eddy is a Grays Harbor College graduate and former student of Lynne Lerych. He took her playwriting class and along the course of his education, fell in love with writing musicals. He has spent much of his time conducting the orchestra at the Bishop Center, as well as playing piano and crafting “mini” performances. Now a graduate of The Evergreen State College, Alex has taken Lynne’s playwriting class multiple times out of sheer delight with the subject.
When Alex and Lynne decided to collaborate and come up with a musical, Lynne brought forth her old drafts for him to preview. When Alex read over “The Dig,” he was full of ideas. “I’ve always been more of a fan of realistic musicals that are about real people and situations,” says Alex. “There are lot of people who may have taken a look at the manuscript and thought that it shouldn’t have been a musical. But I tend to look at things and think, ‘why shouldn’t this be a musical?’”
Nothing stood in their way. The draft was retitled “Back in the World” and the two and a half year process of creating a performance began. “It worked because I got to bring my strength to the game and watch Alex turn those lyrics into something I never could have created on my own,” expresses Lynne.
“Back in the World” has personal origins and the makeup has continued in an attitude of friendship. Lynne would write lyrics, Alex would create melodies. When Alex knit them together on Lynne’s piano in her living room, tears would flow and the next idea was introduced. It was a precious beginning to what would become a touching result. When the time came to include others into the circle of creativity, the crew maintained a personal atmosphere about the project. There is not a single person partaking in the musical that is not a friend or family member of Alex and Lynn. The familiarity of those involved lends even more feeling to the project as all have become invested.
“Back in the World” is the first full scale musical that Lynne and Alex have created. There is both excitement as well as anticipation. Alex explains that some of the greatest growth you can experience is hearing the feedback of the audience – whether or not they laugh at the humor or are emotional while hearing the struggles of the protagonist. Once the cycles of performances are complete, he’s sure that he and Lynne will have some “tweaking” to do. But until then, they wait with fingers crossed for each curtain lift.
With an eclectic mix of music, an uplifting plot full of struggle as well as hope, and free admission for veterans, two and a half years of hard work and imagination have gone into this original musical by Grays Harbor locals.
Watch “Back in the World” at the Bishop Center on November 7, 8, 14 and 15 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students. As Lynne will be in the audience, perhaps you’ll find yourself not just watching the musical, but sitting back and enjoying it with one of the creators as well.