Dallas — It takes a big personality and big passion to bring a new musical to a city already filled with established theatrical choices—especially when its creator is a "techie” (not the theater kind) whose only theatrical experience was playing a flying monkey in her high school production of The Wizard of Oz.
But it’s the theme of Broken: The Musical—the story of a rape victim’s journey from tragedy to recovery—that made her decide that it had to be produced. The musical opens today in the Lone Star Room of Gilley’s in Dallas, running through Aug. 17.
Entrepreneur, executive producer, lyricist and book writer Monica Martino was inspired by a news story about the careless loss of evidence that was going to be used in sexual assault cases. That didn’t seem right to her.
Broken is about how you can experience a really bad tragedy and come through the other side,” Martino says. "The musical is also about educating viewers on the challenges sexual assault victims face within the judicial system."
“I’ve started a lot of businesses so I know how to get things up and started,” she says. “But the final impetus is the decision that you can’t get to that without outside help.”
Martino says she wrote 90 percent of the script within two weeks. Once she decided to do this, people started showing up, and she chose collaborators with theatrical résumés.
The show’s music, all original, is written and orchestrated by Aaron Fryklund, a young composer based in Dallas. His compositions, which include acoustic and interactive computer music, have been featured in films and recordings.
The show’s rape scene, arranged by award-winning choreographer Paula Morelan, is stylized to the ballad “Strike a Chord,” is a ballad with a tango. Martino, who also wrote the lyrics, admits she cried when she heard the song for the first time.
“If everything else goes bad, I don’t care if the lights go out—the music will carry it,” she says.
Director Peg Waldschmidt is pleased that the subject of rape will be shown in a theater setting. While it’s important that the show entertains, it’s also important to raise awareness about issues like this. Half of opening night’s proceeds will be donated to the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center.
“It’s hard, as the author, not to get in your director’s way,” Martino says. But she admits that the musical is a work in progress and editing was needed.
Gilley’s was chosen for the show in part because of its large and flexible accommodations. It offers five venues. Three stages were built for Broken, and some of the scenes take place in the audience.
From spring rehearsals until now, Martino has watched as the show has come together. And now, being in the room as it’s filled with music and lighting is like “seeing the baby born,” she says proudly.
Martino reveals that her biggest challenge with the project has been not paying attention to the people who said she couldn’t do it.
“It takes a lot of risk,” she notes. "You have to figure out how to find actors, a director, a composer, a choreographer—it’s a lot. Then it all starts to come together."
At the end of the interview, in a quiet, somber tone, she adds: “Telecom is my heart, but Broken is my soul.”