All Recipes Are Home debuts in Decorah
This has been an incredible undertaking. Years of work for Sean Lewis and a year of work for us, with these last months in a vast rehearsal space figuring out how to fit our music (new and old) into a new kind of musical. On April 11th patrons at Luther College's Center for Faith and Life were the first audience to ever see "All Recipes Are Home". The band is seated stage left and upstage of most of the action. The cast sings with us, to us or the audience and sometimes we operate as their inner voice or part of the chorus. At times our music underscores scenes, creating a sonic landscape in which scenes unfold and the story drives forward. We arrived at these ways the music works in the piece through playing, experimenting, writing, scratching something and trying something new.
You meet so many strong female characters that it feels more like the world we actually live in, than the map and time jumping world the play exists in. There is love: between young couples, between women, between community and land, between siblings and ultimately, there is a Iowa. Right there. Right at the center. It feels like Iowa feels, how it is to live in a place so deeply engrossed in farm and food production. Iowa is not just the location, but the air this play breathes.
It has been a complete joy working on this production with the talented cast. Cara Clonch Viner is a great singer who easily moves from child to young woman. Frankie Rose surprises with his comedic timing and awkward sweetness. His character "Josef" is as endearing as Viner's "Erin" is strong and inspiring. Kristy Hartsgrove Mooers breaks your heart with how hard she can love and makes you wish that you had a bad ass babushka wearing Czech for a big sister. Jennifer Fawcett expertly transitions between adorable buffoon and the symbol of unrequited love making each nearly unrecognizable from the other. Katy Slaven holds down so many ensemble characters with immense precision and grace that she somehow becomes the symbol of all strong women. Chris Cruz leaves us without a breath in our lungs telling his immigration story, while in other ensemble roles he cracks us up with his excellent timing and agility. And finally, watch out for Aaron Weiner's dance moves. He can act with great flexibility, and is particularly good at playing detestable jerk-faces, but he can also move like Jagger!
We didn't know what this would be and we are thankful for the way this project has changed the way we work, think about writing songs and collaborate. It has been a revelation. Even though this first run of the show closes on the 18th of April, it does not feel like the end. It feels like the beginning of something new. How does a band of 5 women who have just written a musical not come out unchanged? We are different, more of an ensemble than ever and it is incredible to have this as part of our story and part of our future. We're excited to see how it travels with us and outside of us.
We'd like to send an huge thank you to the cast, the technical crews at Luther, Hancher and Grinnell. Thank you to the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, Iowa Arts Council and The National Endowment for the Arts for your support through our major grant and a big, warm thank you to Working Group Theatre. Sean Lewis, thanks for asking us along on this epic journey! You wrote a good one!
And please, let us know if you want to see it in your town. Have show, will travel.