Monday, November 17, 2014


Being tied to the land can be a blessing or a burden.  It speaks to heritage and tradition and family.  For Amy McPherson, her family's sheep shearing ranch in California is her entire world.  While her siblings Lacy  wants a big time career and Shaun, who has clearly lost his way, Amy will move heaven and earth to be sure the ranch Emoh Ruo (Our Home spelled backward) survives and thrives.

Amy is willing to battle a long drought, the danger of wild fires and the financial uncertainties of her quest. No task is too hard or too difficult to face and overcome. "Once We Lived Here" with book and lyrics by Dean Bryant and music by Matthew Frank will be offered at Spirit of Broadway Theater in Norwich until Sunday, November 30. The musical is Artistic Director Brett Bernardini's signature swan song, his farewell tribute to the theater that has been his home and focus for the last seventeen years.

To Bernardini, "Once We Lived Here" is a great musical with an amazing cast, about family and the memories it creates, the home that holds it together.
The ultimate message is "family matters."

Originally set in Australia, the composer's home, the musical has been relocated  to California where the realities of lack of rainfall and dangerous brush fires and economic downturns are all too real.  The McPhersons have gathered their wagons together to survive another family tragedy.  Eight years ago their father was tragically killed.  Now their mom Claire (Jennifer Killinger Blackwell) is seriously ill. Despite all of Amy's (Samantha Souza) diligence and hard work, the future of the family farm is in question. Will Shaun (Dakota Dutcher) or Lacy (Bessie Fong) step up to help?  Can Burke (Matt Smolko ), a hired hand who helped in the past, ride back in as a white knight to save the day?

Here is a disfunctional unit who harbors secrets and lives on lies.  Their memories creep in and explode in their faces.  Will a fresh wind of change help them rediscover what family means and uncover the love they all need to survive?  Brett Bernardini works wonderfully well to help the cast discover the anchors they need to thrive.

For tickets ($32), call Spirit of Broadway Theater, 24 Chestnut Avenue, Norwich at 860-886-2378 or online at  Performances are Wednesday and Thursday at 7 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m.

A 2014 Spirit Gala will be held on Saturday, December 6 to honor and pay tribute to Founding Artistic Director Brett Bernardini with a reception at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. and special guest performances at 8 p.m.  This black tie event is sure to be special.  For tickets ($125), call the theater box office.

You can vote on the future of the theater at www.surveymonkey/r/SpiritofBroadway.

Discover that "All Roads Lead to Home" in this musical where unanswered questions, guilt and memories must be addressed.


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