As a child of four or five, Zack Zadek was obsessed with the D word, not divorce, Darth Vader, but death. He wasn’t traumatized by the lose of a goldfish or a grandmother but, precociously, pondered the unknown. Zack lay in bed one night before sleep and realized people and things don’t last forever. That realization that something was going to happen to him and to his parents was terrifying to the young lad and he spent considerable hours trying to reconcile that reality, the inevitable lack of forever. While he didn’t go to the length of dressing as a Goth, all in black, his thoughts were not directed to the sunny side of the street.
Now Zadek has channeled all his angst and anxiety into a world premiere musical “Deathless” that resolves the question by giving options, eliminating the dying factor, and guaranteeing eternity. Curious how he does it? Goodspeed’s Terris Theatre in Chester will provide the method and the means from Friday, June 2 to Sunday, July 2 and you’re invited to chill out and take a pill of pleasurable discovery.
Even though his dad reassured him that death was too far away to worry about, Zack was not convinced. He started marking his life by benchmarks. like learning to drive , graduating high school and college, by charting a timeline of important events. Now, at the advanced age of twenty four, he needs to keep pinching himself because the milestones are piling up rather rapidly. Nominated by Playbill as “A Contemporary Musical Theatre Writer You Should Know,” he is the winner of the 2017 Weston New Musical Award, the 2017 MacDowell Fellow in Theatre, the winner of the inaugural “Got Musical” award from Disney Creative Entertainment, as well as a stack of honors from Broadway to London's West End.
Being at Goodspeed’s Terris Theatre is “crazy and all I ever wanted and worked for. It’s remarkable. In middle school, before I was even bar mitzvahed, I was a finalist to play in the band of a new musical at The Terris called “13.” It’s amazing that ten years later I am here as the writer of book, music and lyrics for my own show, an endgame.” As to the experience workshopping the show in Chester, Zack calls it “the best of the best. The team of fifty, including the great director Tina Landeau and the wonderful cast of five has been revealing. Before this, I was talking to myself alone in a room and now I have collaborators who are helping me learn about my own piece. The text on page is coming to life, like a baby being birthed.”
“Deathless” is a musical about a family on an annual road trip to Niagara Falls who has just suffered the loss of the mother and about Hayley, the nineteen year old who can’t reconcile her grief. Hayley will be played by Tony nominated actress Jennifer Damiano. Zack calls the story “a mystery” just as death is a mystery. A pill has just become available that will guarantee life forever and Hayley is struggling with a decision to take it or not. Zack hopes the audiences will ponder that choice and have conversations with loved ones about their feelings. Could or would you give up aging? Would you want to stay at the age you are now? What if only some of your family took the pill? What if life no longer had an expiration date?
For tickets ($49 and up ), call the Goodspeed at 860- 878-8668 or online at www.goodspeed.org. Performances are Wednesday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 3 p.m. and 8 p.m and Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. The Terris Theatre is located at 33 North Main Street, Chester (exit 6 off route 9).
Even though “Deathless” deals with the big topic of death, it is surprisingly funny. Bring a bag or three of snacks as you take a road trip with the Serling family and relearn how to value your life and live it to the fullest. Zack Zadek will be happy to be your tour guide for this intriguing musical adventure.