THE STORY OF JO-BETH
Book, music, and lyrics by Daniel Maté
From a concept by Erin Ortman and Daniel Maté, adapted from the Old Testament's Book of Job
Originally devised in collaboration with an ensemble of college seniors at CAP 21 Conservatory's Professional Training Program in New York City, Fall 2011:
Valerie Blatt, Dan DeLuca, Kelsey Dobyns, Madison Eastman, Emily Hannon, Grace Lewis,
Megan Martin, Sarah Merner, Chad Murnane, Emily Price, Susanna Rizzo, Matthew Rosell and Kellie Welch
"The Curse" contains an interpolation of lyrics from Joni Mitchell's "The Sire of Sorrow (Job's Sad Song)"
THE STORY OF THE SHOW
In this modern-day retelling of the Old Testament's quintessential tale of woe, the role of Job falls to a 17-year-old all-American high-achiever named Jo-Beth who has it all—family, success, boyfriend, a brilliant future—and suddenly loses everything. As her tight-knit Midwestern community abandons their former poster child in her time of distress, Jo-Beth is forced to confront the depths of loneliness and despair, and venture to the edge of her own faith in humanity. Blending Biblical imagery with modern psychological realism and humor, and a diverse musical score that hovers somewhere between contemporary and apocalyptic, THE STORY OF JO-BETH is a compelling meditation on adversity, suffering, and courage; a spiritual allegory for our calamitous times.
THE STORY BEHIND THE SHOW
Like MIDDLE SCHOOL MYSTERIES, the genesis (no pun intended) of this piece was as a collaboration with an ensemble of young actors — in this case, college students in a conservatory program in musical theatre performance at CAP 21, a school and theatre company I've been working with for years. The ensemble's acting teacher (and the show's original director) Erin Ortman had the idea of using the Job myth to explore present-day instances of individual and collective suffering. Erin had the inspired idea to set the show in a wholesome Midwestern town recovering from a natural disaster similar to the one that destroyed much of Joplin, Missouri in early 2011. From there we worked with the actors to create character types, backstories, and relationships, from which we then assembled the basic plot structure. It was a tremendously intense six-week process — both because of the limited time and the high-powered thematic material. The result was a very visceral piece of musical theatre that we were all excited about and proud of...
In April 2013 at The JCC in Manhattan presented a new rewritten version in a workshop directed by Michelle Tattenbaum, music directed by Brian Usifer.