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'In Emily's Words' premieres at the Wharton Center this weekend

In Emily's Words
Posted at 10:51 PM, Sep 20, 2022

EAST LANSING, Mich. — A never before seen musical is hitting the Pasant Wharton Center stage this weekend.

A collaboration of local high school students, Michigan State University students in the ImaGen program and the help of some broadway stars makes up the cast of the new musical "In Emily's Words."

“I've been writing this show for about two and a half years,” said composer and writer Jessy Tomsko. “We are putting on its feet for the first time, a new musical that I have written called 'In Emily's words,' which is about Emily Bronte's process to write Wuthering Heights.”

“We've been here at MSU for the last two weeks working on this show," said Director Susanna Wolk. "It's our first time putting it up on its feet staging with actors, which has been really, really thrilling.”

Wolk said she and Tomsko have been collaborating for the last six months.

“In the ensuing months, she and I started working together and just really, doing a deep dive on the script, just doing a lot of dramaturgy, making sure everything was super, super ready to go by the time we got here," Wolk said. "We prepared like crazy.”

Actors include high school students and college students like Sebastian Barnette, who are part of the ImaGen program at Michigan State University.

“It has been a fantastic opportunity," Barnette said.

The cast also includes broadway actor Johnathan Christopher, who plays characters like Aaron Burr and George Washington in Hamilton and performed at the Wharton Center back in April.

“I just love this kind of full circle moment of doing that, and Hamilton gave me a couple of weeks off, so I could come here and work on the show,” Christopher said.

Tomsko said it's been a quick process to prepare for the show.

“We've been staging it, we've been going full out with staging and some light choreography and some props, and it's starting to really take on a life of its own, it feels like a show,” Tomsko said.

Wolk said working with this talented and determined group of people has been incredible.

“They have been so wonderful, so eager, ready to dive in, they've really embraced the material and also been just fantastic collaborators, this is our first time seeing the work come to life with a full company,” Wolk said.

Barnette said he's learned a lot from working with Christopher.

“Getting the opportunity to watch Jonathan kind of make steps and make bounds, and get to watch him just read table work, reading something off the page for the first time in putting it into voice and putting it into action, rather than just kind of reading," Barnette said. "It's been very fun.”

Christopher said he's learned a lot from this group of students too.

“It's reminding me that I can always take a step back as well and just really ask those questions," Christopher said. "What am I objectives? How am I feeling? What is the environment that I'm in? Who am I talking to?”

So if you're looking for a good song.

“Some of this music is really, really unique in the best way possible," Barnette said. "It's not like everything else that is coming out recently. It's going to be really fun to listen to as well as really, really tight a lot of the time.”

A good show and a good laugh.

“It's a story about imagination, and creativity and finding your story, and you know, kind of using your ideas and your creativity to walk the path of immortality as Emily Bronte did," Tomsko said.

You can find all three at the Wharton Center this weekend.

"In Emily's Words" will hit the stage Friday night at 7 p.m. and Sunday at 2 p.m. Tickets can be purchased on the Wharton Center's website.

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