Music Theater Philly, the region’s premier and vibrant training facility for young theater and dance artists founded by professional Broadway performers and choreographers, is developing a world premiere musical based on the true story of the Nickel Mines shooting Amish School was based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Written by theater artist Mary Fishburne, BOUNDLESS explores how two teenage girls from vastly different worlds discover that they must be fearless enough to ask the right questions and brave enough to hear the voice within when they… answers. The production, which will feature Music Theater Philadelphia students from grades 5 through 12, will open on Saturday, May 21 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the Arts Bank (601 S. Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA) publicly presented.
“Music Theater Philly is thrilled to present our first-ever in-house developed musical, which will showcase the talent of our incredible students,” said Tim Popp, Executive Director of Music Theater Philly. “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Philadelphia-based theater artist Mary Fishburne on the development of BOUNDLESS, a moving story that explores how friendship and forgiveness can come from unexpected places.”
BOUNDLESS is set ten years after the Nickel Mines Amish School tragedy in which five girls were shot dead in a one-room schoolhouse in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The King Sisters are in their rumspringa, the time when the Amish turn a blind eye to teens venturing out into the world before deciding to embrace the Amish faith for life. As the King Sisters’ lives intersect with the world and its customs, Willa King forms a relationship with Sofia Robins, the daughter of the man who shot her sister. Their friendship surprises them both as they realize they are more alike than different. The King Sisters and Sofia Robins must all be fearless enough to ask the right questions and brave enough to hear the voice within when it answers.
The theme and story of BOUNDLESS became clearer when Fishburne moved to the Philadelphia area in 2018. Fascinated by the lofty challenges of the decision-making process of a young adult in the Amish community, Mary recognized the courage that is necessary for anyone striving to claim their own path in life. In addition, she believes now is a great time to tell stories that show the similarities and differences of all people. When Mary finally visited Amish country for the first time, she could still feel the effects of the 2006 Nickel Mines school shootings.
“The story takes place ten years after that event, while the survivors are still coping with forgiveness, joy, and moving forward,” notes Fishburne. “The power of this theme is told most strongly by young voices. History is cautious about optimism but fervent about hope. She is shy about certainties but adamant about inquisitions. She is mindful of courage but persistent of resilience.”
Fishburne holds a BA from Vanderbilt University and an MA from Temple University. She has worked across the country as an actress, singer, choreographer, musician and now a playwright/composer. His favorite films include MY FAIR LADY at the Virginia Stage Company, LUNGS with Fiasco Theater Artistic Director Noah Brody, ONCE at the Arden here in Philly and SOUTH PACIFIC at the Dock Street Theater in Charleston. While Mary enjoyed working as a theater artist in New York, it wasn’t until she moved to Charleston, South Carolina that she fell in love with regional theater, theater education and the opportunity for work-life balance. She co-founded the Educational Branch of the Village Rep Company at the Woolfe Street Playhouse and directed/directed/choreographed 2-3 shows a year for the advanced teenage group. It was here that her dream of writing a young adult show began.
BOUNDLESS will feature talent from Music Theater Philly’s signature training programs, recognized as “Best of Philly” by Philadelphia Magazine. Youth performers will work with professional directors, choreographers, music directors and designers to produce the musical. Building on their acting, singing and dancing skills, these young actors experience a complete production process of auditions, rehearsals and a performance.
BOUNDLESS will be performed at The Arts Bank on May 21st at 2pm and 7pm for 2 performances only. That same weekend, the Music Theater Philly will present its youth production of 101 DALMATIANS: KIDS on May 22nd at 12pm. Tickets can be reserved at https://www.showtix4u.com/events/16007.
ABOUT PHILLY MUSICAL THEATER: A vibrant professional training place for young theater and dance artists, the Philly Musical Theater is dedicated to adult-led children’s arts education. Located in the heart of Center City, MTP aims to create a creative, encouraging and disciplined environment while maintaining the integrity of musical theater. Our programs are designed to build trust, respect and teamwork while helping each individual find their personal voice through artistic training. Classes are divided by age, which allows each group of students to feel confident that they are on the same developmental field as their peers. Each class is specially tailored for our students and adapted to their ability and interest. Find out more at musictheatrephilly.com.